The first rule of hot pot is that you don’t wear white. The second rule of hot pot is that you go hungry. Other recommendations include: not going on a balmy evening and bringing a big group so you can try a variety of ingredients. Having failed our mission before we even got in the door, we resigned ourselves to a fun evening of DIY tabletop cooking and some delicious food.
If you haven’t ever been to a hot pot establishment, I highly recommend it. The way it works is like this – you decide on your broth (or broths if you’re fancy – they come in a yin-yang shaped separated bowl) and then your uncooked ingredients and mark your choices on a paper form. You can do all you can eat or order specific items. It’s not cheap but it is good value and you’ll often see tables of students and families crammed in behind trays of meat. Fatty Cow has a retail seafood sister operation so there are good deals on fish and seafood.
We ordered the “hot and spicy” broth (you can tell by the chilies floating in it) and the short rib soup and got to it, dunking pieces of rib eye and bok choy and knotted noodles and countless other things first into the broth and then into one of the sauces – chili oil, chili paste, peanut or the house special sauce with cilantro – and chilies.
They seemed pretty happy to explain the process for newbies but I did get a kick out of the fact that there are no warnings about having a bowl of hot soup on a burner in the middle of your table – common sense will have to prevail on this one – although we were warned about the spicy broth.
Near the end of the meal a couple of last plates appeared with some favorites we wanted to have one last bite of – the wontons were particularly good, as well as the mushrooms and the rib eye – but also a few unidentifiable items. I was pretty sure that there was bitter melon (which we hadn’t ordered) and we were pretty sure that this was some kind of “meat”:
which we also hadn’t ordered. Turned out to be pork blood cake which Matt promptly nicknamed, “the reviewer’s special”. Sounded like a dare to me, so in it went into the spicy broth, then the chili oil and then the house special sauce and finally into my mouth. It was interesting. I’ve had plenty of varieties of blood sausage but never sliced like this and the texture didn’t sit well with me – kind of like a firm, meaty tofu – but it tasted alright. Next time I go back though, I’m having a mess of spot prawns and oysters.
Fatty Cow Seafood Hotpot
5108 Victoria Drive, Vancouver