Hainanese Grandpa Style Steamboat
You know, there’s a certain undeniable truth to the notion that trends, much like life’s relentless rhythms, have this uncanny way of coming full circle. I grew up in a time when there was only one type of hotpot, which we used to call “steamboat” and that was the type that mum used to make, using chicken broth and a variety of meats and vegetables.
Truth be told, I used to hate hotpots when I was a kid. I could never understand why adults like to eat meats that are cooked in a bland soup.
I began to truly appreciate hotpot when the all-you-can-eat hotpot buffets sprouted up at Marina South. What I liked about them was the hotplate around the pot of soup, allowing you to grill your meat as well. That was our inside-out version of Mookata long before Mookata became trendy. Soon after, Japanese-style Shabu Shabu made its debut, ushering in the era of thinly sliced, well-marbled meat.
Then came the trend of the Chendu style mala hotpot. Nowadays the market is saturated with a plethora of hotpot options, but I’m certain you will occasionally find yourselves reminiscing about the homestyle hotpots of the good old days.
Aaron Wong’s Latest Concept
One person who has been reminiscing about the old-school Hainanese hotpot is Masterchef finalist Aaron Wong whom I met when he opened his first Jiak Song Mee Hoon Kueh stall. After Mee Hoon Kueh, he decided to tackle Wanton Mee and opened legend Wanton Mee at the Maddox Canteen in Bukit Merah.
Now that the Wanton Mee stall is stable, he has turned his attention to this Hainanese Hotpot concept which is served in the evenings at the stall as the Wanton Mee. With the Hainanese hotpot concept, Aaron wanted to bring patrons back to the good old days when a hotpot meant a simple pork or chicken broth with a selection of hand-sliced and marinated meats.
Old School Hand-sliced meats
The basic set for two comes with a selection of vegetables, seafood, and marinated pork belly to which you can order extra items like marinated beef and chicken to add on. I must say that it is quite a surprise not to be served shabu shabu style meats nowadays! The last time we had an old-school hotpot like this was at Thien Kee! It certainly brings back old memories!
The meats were all marinated and so they were nice and tender. They were good, but I felt that the meats would taste a little more natural if they could cut back on the tenderizers. The soup base was a very nice and robust pork bone stock and I liked their house-made chilli sauce. Nothing fancy but it worked well with the hotpot. 4.25/5
Ulu Industrial Canteen
I think another good reason to visit Guo Jin is its unique location inside an industrial area right next to a green corridor. Okay, it’s not very ulu but it is far enough from the main road and certainly has that ulu vibe. The good thing is that it’s right beside a huge car park. The canteen itself has got nice tables and comfy chairs too. It is usually quiet in the evenings so there should be no trouble finding a table. If you like the vibe at One Pot, you would like this.
The other good thing about the canteen is that its dog-friendly, so you can bring your fur-friends along too. You may sometimes see Umi, Aaron’s dog at the front of the store. She’s rather shy so please be gentle if you wish to pet her.
Old school Hainanese Hotpot in a quite ulu location with easy access and ample parking space! I expect that this place should get more busy soon when word gets out.