Beauty in the Pot?

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Beauty in the Pot. (Edmond Sailland)

Hot pot—a bubbling broth in which you cook various meats vegetables, noodles, dumplings etc—is an important fixture of Chinese cuisine. Gathering family, friends and loved ones around the steaming hot pot is one of my favourite forms of communal eating. I was pleased to have the chance, therefore, to sample Beauty in the Pot on Yangon’s Sayar San Road. 

Beauty in the Pot has all the staples of a good quality Chinese hot pot chain (which is to be expected as its from Singapore’s Paradise Group). The restaurant was buzzing but not raucous (in Mandarin we would say ‘renao’) with pleasant chatter and scented steam emanating from each table.

As I sat down, I ticked off my mental hot pot check list. Large hot pot in the middle, which can be split into two small hot pots. (I am not a fan of the personal hot pot which seem in vogue in Yangon). Good quality crockery. Large chopsticks for dipping and plucking, a spoon for soup, a slotted spoon for tricky extractions and an elongated sieve for noodles. Beauty in the Pot charmed me almost immediately by supplying paper bibs and little plastic bags for your phone—both necessary precautions for an enthusiastic hotpotter like me.

The restaurant won my heart with its dipping station. (For the uninitiated, part of the hot pot experience is to create your own dipping sauce which you can coat items in between being cooked in the hot pot and entering your mouth). This station was well-stocked with soy, vinegar, oils, coriander, chilli, sha cha, sesame and well-maintained (read: Clean).

I opted for two soups. The slightly bizarrely-named collagen-rich pot was rich from pork cartilage and featured delicious pieces of silky tofu. The ‘mala’ spicy broth was packed with Sichuan peppercorn, chili, red dates, wolfberries, ginseng, dang gui, dang shen. You can choose the spiciness on a scale from one to three chilis.

In diligence to you, dear reader, I ordered as broad a selection as possible of items to dunk in my pot. The vegetables were packed with flavor, the meat (I had Australian beef and pork) was fresh and needed only minimal cooking, the restaurant’s signature meat paste was lightly flavored with white pepper and once cooked it took on just the right amount of the broth’s flavor.

The dumplings were very good as well, a light tang from the garlic shoots with the pork and a delightfully slippery skin. The hand-pulled la mian noodles were also exceptional. The meatballs were all fresh and very tasty—in particular the squid. The taro should also be mentioned as a must-order item.

Everything, therefore, was pretty much perfect until, dramatic pause, I found out there was no dessert option. Not even a fruit plate. Though we were handed a refreshing crushed ice lime beverage.

This would not stop me from coming back, when I get that hot pot yearning, however. It remains my favorite hot pot experience so far. The food was good across the board. The service was diligent (offering demonstrations and advice on cooking times), at times to the point of being a little over-enthusiastic.

You can expect to pay a little more than you might anticipate for the privilege, however, and should allocate around 20,000-30,000 kyats per head. If you think it’s a little pricey and are flexible with when you hot pot, take advantage of their lunch menu and late-night deal (20 percent off between 10 pm and 1 am).

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