XiangZi Hot Pot
XiangZi takes hot pot dining to the next level. Located in a sprawling plaza in Markham, its massive size dwarfs almost any other hot pot restaurant in the GTA.
It's impossible to visit the place and not be amazed. The restaurant features traditional architecture similar to ones seen in blockbuster Chinese period movies. From opulent marble tables to hand-carved hardwood decorations, this is truly a dining experience in every sense of the word.
The hot pot works on a pretty typical AYCE format. Individual pots are $35.99 on weekdays (+$3 for weekends), to which you add one of three soup bases: spicy (+$7.99), tomato (+$5.99), or chicken mushroom (+$5.99).
Once your pot is happily bubbling away, it's time to saunter over to the sprawling square-shaped buffet stations full of options like lamb and pork belly slices, cumin ribs, spicy Szechuan noodles and an assortment of ready-to-eat appetizers and small desserts.
And don't forget the sauce. I create mine using a combination of sesame paste, satay sauce, hot chili oil, garlic, a touch of sugar, a sprinkle of chicken bouillon and lots of coriander. Mix it all with the restaurant’s own signature canned sesame oil, and you’ve got a sauce fit for a royal feast.
Beyond the basics, there are a number of opulent add-ons you can splurge for including the tripe (+$9.99) which actually tastes a lot better than it sounds. Its texture and composition absorb the tasty broth very well.
If you’re feeling even more decadent, go for the lobster or crab (market priced).
There's also handmade shrimp paste (+$9.99) which comes in a squeezable container not unlike the ones used for cake frostings, and you can cut off the paste using your chopsticks.
Compared to all the other hot pot places I’ve been to, the price point here is noticeably higher. As such, it lends itself more for special occasions or celebrations.