Last weekend I got the opportunity to try an entirely new dining experience… Hot Pot! I went to Simmer Huang, an Asian Fusion gem situated in downtown Montreal, its newly opened fifth Canadian location.
The Asian Fusion restaurant started in Beijing and became famous for its healthy ingredients and secret signature source hot pot. Due to its success, they rapidly expanded their restaurant chain across China, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, and eventually into Canada. The special part about this restaurant is the fact that the ingredients are prepared in front of you by pressure cooking them on hot plates built into the tables.
Upon arrival at the restaurant, my friend and I were greeted by a friendly staff and seated in a beautifully modern restaurant. Never having tried a restaurant like this before, our waitress kindly explained the menu to us and how to order. The menu can honestly be confusing for anyone that has never tried anything like this before, we felt quite lost before getting a full explanation. Looking at the menu, we had the choice of pre-assembled hot pots or choosing the ingredients ourselves and building our own. Naturally, the adventurous side in us decided to make our own hot pot. We decided to choose their “special sauce” and four main ingredients: shrimp, chicken wings, bacon-wrapped enoki (amazing), and octopus. All hot pots come with a bed of vegetables on the bottom.
While waiting for our food, we tried their “plum syrup” juice that they make specially in-house. I definitely felt that the drink had a bit of an acquired taste, but was enjoyable nonetheless.
The waitress then brought our ingredients in separate plastic tubs and placed a large pot on the hot plate in front of us. She placed a bed of vegetables on the bottom, followed by our chosen ingredients, the special sauce and the lid, allowing the food to cook in front of us for about 10 minutes. We then got a side order of their homemade “pancakes”, which I’d HIGHLY recommend. They’re perfect to dip into the sauce and fully enjoy the flavor. We also ordered their freshly squeezed watermelon juice (probably my favorite part of the entire meal), which tasted like pure watermelon in a cup. Since the meal was a little on the spicy side, the watermelon juice was a great accompaniment to cool your tongue down.
My favorite ingredient in the pot would definitely be the bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms due to their incredible flavor, and my least favorite the shrimp, just because they were more difficult to eat with their shells on. The waitress did however bring us plastic gloves in the middle of our meal to use for the shrimp and chicken wings, which was pretty cool if you enjoy eating messy foods.
Once we had devoured all the meat from our pot, the waitress came over and poured hot water into our leftovers and we got to choose another three ingredients (we had vermicelli rice noodles, broccoli, and seaweed) to create a soup! The soup was covered and left to boil for five minutes, and once it was done it had all the wonderful flavors of the special sauce, putting a nice end to a delicious meal.
What I loved most about this restaurant was the many layers the meal entailed. It was not only delicious food, but an entire dining experience. Having the food cooked in front of you was interesting and allowed you that extra time to enjoy yourself with the friends or loved ones you brought with you. I’d definitely recommend it as a cute spot to take your sweetheart on a date and to anyone who enjoys Asian Cuisine!