With the weather finally cooling down Lisa Cam gets to grips with the latest culinary craze from Korea – nine-tiered seafood hot pot. Art direction by Jessica Li. Photography by Calvin Sit
Last December a Korean TV channel reported on a small seafood joint in Seoul and its unique hot pot tower – stacked with nine layers of steamers – and ever since the phenomenon has spread across Asia. At the Bongcheon original, the ingredients for the tower are fixed. A typical feast includes crab, clams, scallops, conch, with a clam soup bubbling at the bottom to catch all the briny drippings. Any customers who somehow have room left after this protein-rich feast are able to add noodles to the soup to finish on an extremely satisfying note.
Over the last 10 months many Korean grills in Hong Kong have followed suit and begun offering multi-layered hot pots, but usually with no more than five tiers. The trend is now gaining momentum and dedicated restaurants have started opening around town. Not only do they serve the real McCoy nine pot variety, but they each have something special to offer their diners that depart from the original…
The Seafood Kitchen
The first shop to offer nine pots in Hong Kong, this is the only institution where you can also have a choice of what goes in each tier. There are more than 20 types of seafood to choose from, including delectable items such as king crab and tiger prawns. These are steamed in the back until they’re almost ready to eat, then moved to the pots on the table and finished off at a low heat, so they don’t overcook. The catch is bought everyday from the fishmarket and kept alive in fish tanks, ensuring maximum freshness at the dinner table. What’s more, you can also select the soup base at the bottom, the favourite being the ginseng chicken. By the time you get down to the soup, there’s a rich, thick broth just waiting to be slurped. Market prices, approximately $500 per person. Shop E-F, G/F, 18 Catchick St, Kennedy Town, 2556 8555.
Calf Bone King
This massive Hong Kong hot pot chain recently jumped on the nine-tier-tower freight train. Famous for its cold conch appetiser, fish head tofu soup and sashimi, Calf Bone King offers one of the most budget-friendly ways to gorge on this stack of seafood, at $988 for four people. What’s in the selection varies according to market availability, but a typical line-up includes clams, prawns, king crab and many other options. Even better, is the plethora of soup bases on offer at the restaurant – sample the oxtail soup that’s loaded with vegetables and beef if you fancy something different. If seafood towers aren’t enough to fill you up, there are numerous options for a regular hotpot full of meat, vegetables and noodles at this well-stocked restaurant. Various locations inc 1-3/F, King Kong Bldg, 6-8 Tai Nan St, Prince Edward, 2395 1188; cbk.com.hk.
9 Steam Fresh (九重鮮)
The latest to clamber aboard the nine tiered hot pot bandwagon is 9 Steam Fresh (九重鮮). What’s great about this restaurant is that it has smaller portions for each steamer, making it easier for small groups to indulge in this gastronomic feast. A typical four-person affair starts off with razor clams and geoduck, followed by prawns and clams, then lobster. Other ingredients include mini abalone, crab and scallops. To round it all off there’s the bubbling soup underneath, for which diners can choose between ginseng chicken or Korean-style pork knuckle soup. If that’s not enough, the eatery also offers various flavours of shaved ice to cool the palate and end things on a sweet note. Sets start at $288 per person for a minimum of two people. 1/F Wun Sha Court, 1-5 Wun Sha Rd, Tai Hang, 2321 8998; fb.com/9steamfresh.