Roadside Hot Pot
Roadside Hot Pot is an AYCE Chinese hot pot that fuses skewer-based ingredients with a massive dose of 1980s China nostalgia.
The restaurant is part of a worldwide chain headquartered in Chengdu, China. Its official Chinese name is Malu Bian Bian, which literally translates as 'roadside' or 'streetside'.
The name is apt because the whole restaurant is based on the theme of Chinese rural life in the 1980s, where life was simpler and TikTok and Instagram didn't exist.
It's rather ironic, perhaps, that the restaurant's main rise to fame resulted from diners sharing their pictures on various social media platforms.
Inside, the restaurant is simply mesmerizing with gorgeous handpainted murals depicting what life was like almost half a century ago in small cities across China.
Bright neon lights and images of happy vendors blur the lines between outdoors and indoors, making dining here quite the experience.
There's even an old-school arcade video game machine which you can play for free.
The menu here is quintessentially classic Chengdu-style hot pot, which means a good selection of spicy broths with a small selection of non-spicy ones for less adventurous tastebuds.
Prices for single-broth pots start at $10.99 while a half-and-half pot start at $13.99.
For that price, you get a selection of meat slices which you can order like New Zealand lamb slices, pork dumplings, and Angus beef slices. You also get a handful of more exotic options like pig's blood and frog legs, should you wish.
The epicentre of the experience here is the ability to pick from dozens of skewer options to cook at your leisure. The refrigeration section of the restaurant is where you go to select your own unique combination of skewered morsels to cook at your table, all at no extra cost.
There is also, of course, a DIY sauce station where you can mix your own dipping sauce. Bird's eye chilies are available if you feel like your broth isn't spicy enough.
Roadside Hot Pot also serves up a unique Chinese side dish called maocai, which you don't need to dip in your broth. It's a collection of cooked signature dishes that are as spicy as they are flavourful.
My personal favourite is the Boiled Shrimp with Green Sichuan Pepper ($5.99 for a small bowl) which has a numbing spicy kick.
Not in the mood for seafood? The Spicy Tender Beef ($5.99 for a small bowl) is also a nice option among the many maocai selections. The beef is extremely tender and the spice level is just right.
Cool off from the spice with a selection of Chinese traditional drinks, like the Chinese orange soda ($3.99) and the interesting Peanut Milk ($4.59). Both these drinks are absolute childhood classics for those who grew up in China in the 80s and 90s.
They also serve refreshing fruity drinks like virgin Lychee Mojito and Grapefruit Soda ($4.99 each), which are actually my favourite drinks in this place.
You can also order dessert here, with the Fried Mochi Cake with Brown Sugar ($6.99) being my recommendation. Made from sticky rice flour, the dessert is tantalizingly sweet, lightly crispy on the outside, yet chewy on the inside.