Being a huge fan of hotpot, especially hotpot buffets, my readers can imagine my joy in the opening of a restaurant called Seafood Hot Pot Buffet at Sunny Park. Having seen the sign go up ages ago, I passed it every week or so to check if it had opened yet. One night as I was heading home after work, I saw the lights had been turned on and there was the bustle of hungry customers. Not wanting to wait, I called up my confidante and we headed off to try it out.
Upon entry (being the last table available, and sitting outside too (despite the massive size of the restaurant)) we were provided with a brochure advertising VIP which comes with free soup for a joining fee of $25. Having eaten at 100 Degree and Little Lamb, I was a little confused by this.
After the bill came, I finally understood why they made mention of free soup, because apparently you need to pay for soup on top of the buffet, which annoyed me a little bit, because in my opinion, they should have advertised it as $40.90 per person rather than $35.90 per person (cos obviously you can't really have hotpot without soup).
As we had been given seats outside, apparently there were no embedded stoves, so we were given a portable stove.
Nevertheless, we headed in to get some food. I was surprised to see that all hot pot materials had been placed in these individual plastic containers in pre set portions (probably to reduce waste).
Whilst it may reduce wastage, it also meant that they could load you up with large portions of relatively inexpensive things (such as six pieces of tofu in one box when I usually only opt for one piece), and provide a large bulky box to only contain one piece of crab or scallop.
We opted for an assortment of tripe, dumplings, tofu, and mushrooms. At first, I noted the obvious lack of meat options, which was something that other patrons such had noticed. On this point, I overheard some other customers asking the waitress as to where there was any sliced beef to go with the hot pot. To this, he was directed towards some of the strangest looking sliced beef I'd ever seen. Whilst there appeared to be fat on the outer edges, it distinctively lacked meaty fibers. After trying it out, my companion and I were convinced that it was definitely not sliced beef, but instead it was sliced beef livers. As for the seafood, whilst the scallops and fish and crabs were in abundance, my companion and I both agreed that they didn't taste very fresh. In fact the crab meat was so unfresh that it broke up in his hands long before he was able to peel it.
As for the soup, I ordered the seafood soup base, and as the stove was a gas one, they had this metal frame surrounding it to prevent it being put out by the wind. Unfortunately though, the gas in this stove was really quite weak and my soup was unable to come to a boil. Having brought this to the attention of the waitress, I was shouted at quite bluntly to "wait for it". This was despite the fact that my companions hot pot was already bubbling away (they had both arrived together). Only after waiting for another half hour (which was quite a concern given the time limit on eating the buffet), did staff bother to try and change the gas for me, which resulted in a stronger but still unstable flame.
Whilst I had time to wait for the soup to boil, I had time to take another look at the range of foods available in the restaurant. To this, I found a meat carving station at the back of the store, with a waiter who cuts up meats (very very slowly) as you ask for it. As you can see, one serving (which took a good 3 or so minutes to prepare), contained only four slices of beef, which in turn was exceptionally fatty, I considered the wait a strong disincentive to go back for seconds once considering the time spent for such a small amount of meat. As for drinks, there was a selection of slushees, but we opted for the cola (which was not coke), and it was served unchilled.
A range of sausages and home made meatballs were also available, and we tried a couple of them. Despite the fact that they were home made, the end result didn't seem much different than the store bought variety.
After much hunting, we were also able to locate sauces, to which I made my usual garlic, soy, sesame concoction, and also found a roast duck station next to the sashimi station. The sashimi looked like it had been out for hours, and had quite a lot of flies surrounding them so I didn't dare to even try it. As the roast duck was already cooked, I found it to be a much safer bet, but unfortunately it was both bland and cold.
To date, I cannot say I've had such a bad experience in hot pot before, and can only hope that they lift their game and do a bit better. Needless to say, we left feeling ripped off and still hungry, and opted to compensate ourselves by having a chicken fillet at Hot Star.
Price Range: $40 pp