I first came across this beef hotpot when I visited my ancestral village in Chaoshan (Teochew) last year. It was so good that I remember thinking that someone should start a beef hotpot in Singapore! Well, someone must have read my thoughts and the restaurant was opened soon after I came home!
You might be wondering what is so unique about Chaoshan beef hotpot? Well, it is actually quite a recent phenomena, having been around for about three decades only. It is still found mostly in Chaoshan, but has been spreading quickly across China recently.
As the name implies, the main ingredient of the steamboat is beef. The soup is made of a sweet beef broth made from bones which have been simmering overnight and this is the base to which different cuts of beef and vegetables are added.
The way to eat this steamboat is also a little different. The beef is served in courses starting with the lean cuts. Instead of everyone cooking the beef themselves, the beef is cooked in a net and then served to individual guests. After the courses are completed and the broth is thick with beefy goodness, some lai fen (wheat noodle imported from Chaoshan) is added to the broth to finish the meal.
In Chaoshan beef hotpot, the most prized cut of beef isn’t the tenderloin or the ribeye like it is in Western cuisine. Instead, it is cuts from the neck and the shin which are most prized for their flavour and texture.
The emphasis in Chaoshan is on the freshness of the beef. Over there, they slaughter the cattle in the morning and it is served on the same day. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible in Singapore, but the owner Ah Le has done the next best thing. He brings in chilled beef from different farms from the US and meticulously ate through the same cut from different farms until he found the one that he really likes!
Ah Le is so passionate about the food that he still insists that the beef be all sliced by hand so that the texture of the beef is not compromised. His head chef has excellent knife skills and I couldn’t believe that the beef is sliced by hand until I had the opportunity to film him in action!
But the most obvious indicator of quality of the food here is that they actually pound their own beef with mallets specially imported from Chaoshan. Ah Le tells me that each batch of lean meat has to be pounded 5000 times in order to reach the right consistency before they are molded into balls!
The other thing I need to highlight are their sauces. These are all made in house and they are excellent. Their shacha sauce is full of freshly fried sole fish and when combined with the herbs, freshly fried shallots, pork lard and soy sauce, it goes really well with the beef and is uber addictive! Those who need a bit of spicy kick should go for their homemade chilli oil which is equally addictive! 4.5/5
If you have never tried Chaoshan Beef Hotpot, you should! It is a hearty meal and very different from the usual steamboats we are all used to. The owner is very passionate about the food and has done a lot of work to meticulously source the beef but most impressive is his insistence on pounding the beef by hand to make beef balls!
Special Promotion (until 11 April 2020)
Chaoniu Beef Hotpot