Hot pot. I can never get enough–especially once the cold weather hits (although I’ve never been one to turn down a summer trip to Chili Hot Pot). I usually don’t branch away from my favourites but, when I heard that 97 Hot Pot offered a pared down version of hot pot for lunch, I knew I had to try it out.
One of the most glorious and gluttonous things about hot pot is that generally, you eat your fill. Each hot pot restaurant charges a set price (usually $25-$30) and you indulge in a hedonistic all-you-can-eat extravaganza. Lunch, on the other hand, doesn’t quite give you the food baby you’ve come to expect from a hot pot experience…and that’s probably a good thing.
At 97 Hot Pot, $12.95 gets you your choice of broth, five items from their menu of entrees, and a bowl of mixed vegetables. Definitely not all-you-can-eat, but not exactly Weight Watchers, either.
My go-to soup (satay) wasn’t on the menu, so I chose the Szechuan spicy chicken, which was delicious and had the perfect amount of spice–I still like to be able to feel my tongue afterwards. For entrees, I went with the sliced sirloin beef, sliced lamb, winter melon slices, Japanese crab sticks (some of these aren’t on the full menu but they’re on the checklist you’re given), and fish balls. The mixed vegetable bowl came with broccoli, a portion of corn on the cob, squash, sui choy, bok choy, and a handful of enoki mushrooms. And, since going back, I’ve tried the handmade fish mash, which is also very good, although I’d prefer a shrimp mash if it was an option.
Overall? I was really impressed. You get a significant amount of food for half the price of regular hot pot and it’ll leave you feeling full and satisfied, but not uncomfortably stuffed, which is perfect if you have to go back to work afterwards (as in my case). The food items aren’t as fresh as Chili Hot Pot, but everything was still extremely tasty and the service was lightning fast. But seriously, how can you go wrong for only $13?
I’ve been back since and will be going again next week, so I’d say 97 Hot Pot is onto something smart by offering a lunch version. Asian Express Hot Pot is currently also offering lunch, but I haven’t seen anything yet from Urban Shabu or Chili Hot Pot (though the latter might be a little too out of the way for a lunchtime excursion). In any case, I’d recommend this restaurant if you want a quick, tasty hot pot lunch but would defer you to Chili Hot Pot if you want to invest more time in an evening hot pot experience.
97 Hot Pot
10602 92 Street