The space on Dundas West near Spadina is contemporary and unassuming. Steam rises from tables where diners are getting their hot pot on making the atmosphere seem vibrant and convivial.
The restaurant is AYCE, and prices start at $24.99 on weekdays and $26.99 on weekends. As is conventional at many AYCE spots, broths are extra, with various prices depending on what you choose.
There are two special Sichuan broths that I’ve never seen anywhere else. The Picked Peppers and Cabbage Hotpot (+$7.99) is fiery with a light herb-like sour kick.
For seafood lovers, the Pickled Cabbage and Fish Hotpot (+$8.99) infuses a slightly heavier flavour into the sour-spicy broth. You can also get them in a double pot.
Fans of classic hot pot broth varieties won’t be disappointed with the Spicy Butter Hotpot (+$7.99) or the Nourishing Bone Soup Hotpot (+$3.99). Both come with lots of spice and comforting pork broth flavours. You can also dial the heat up from moderate to extra spicy.
Don’t forget to combine your own dipping sauce at the D-I-Y sauce station. I recommend a healthy dollop of sesame sauce with a touch of sesame oil and oyster sauce. Make sure to add a dash of spicy green chillies, something I don’t always find at other hot pot places.
All your regular AYCE ingredients are here in full force, ranging from beef slices to handmade fish balls.
A house specialty is the Hand-cut Lamb which is a thicker, more satisfying cut than the regular lamb slices. It’s also meatier and a bit more flavourful.
The more adventurous can order up fresh beef aorta, omasum, or tripe.
Side dishes based on popular Sichuan street food like Chicken Cold Noodle, Spicy Dandan Noodle, and Hot and Sour Vermicelli are included in the AYCE price and elevate the authenticity of the place even further. You won’t find these at your regular hot pot places.
Cool down with a pitcher of watermelon juice ($6.99). It’s perfect to counter all the tongue-numbing spiciness from the broths.