5 best hotpot restaurants to warm your winter in Macao
Hotpot is a Chinese institution. It’s also among the most popular offerings at many of Macao's Chinese restaurants – especially in the colder months.
Take Rice Empire, at Sands Cotai Central, where hotpot is one of the most popular items on the extensive menu. It’s not just because of the weather.
“Hotpots are popular because of the sharing and conviviality that they offer,” says Jimmy Poon Wai-kau, Chef de Cuisine at Rice Empire. “In northern China, people like to have hotpot mostly with meat such as lamb and beef but, around this area, live seafood is preferred because it makes the hotpot healthier and more interesting.”
Rice Empire offers the best of both worlds, with several types of meat and fresh seafood. These are complemented by seasonable vegetables, mushrooms, noodles, dumplings and other tasty tidbits. And diners at Rice Empire are spoiled for choice when it comes to soup bases, as the restaurant offers seven: white pepper and pork bone with sweet corn soup, coriander with century egg soup, Sichuan spicy broth, Chinese herbal chicken broth, tomato and potato with pork bone soup, Shunde-style congee with salty bone soup, and yuanyang pot, which can include a combination of any two broths.
Diners can mix their own dipping sauce from condiments that include XO sauce, sesame sauce, sambal sauce, satay sauce, Chaozhou chilli oil, Guilin chilli sauce, hot bean paste, sesame oil, deep-fried garlic, Thai chilli, garlic, green and red chillies, coriander and spring onion. If they are not sure which condiment goes best with which ingredient, they can ask staff for guidance.
“The trend is towards more personal service and greater attention to detail
… ingredients must be super healthy like organic vegetables wild seafood,”
Poon says. Rice Empire has a voluminous menu from live seafood to double cooked soups, dim sum, barbecued meats and vegetarian dishes. The restaurant is open 24/7, and closes once a week, from 3pm to 5.30pm on Wednesdays.
A fine-dining Chinese restaurant at The Parisian Macao, Lotus Palace offers three hotpot set menus. Two are meat based and one focuses on live seafood. Hotpot selections can also be ordered individually.
“We serve the greatest variety of very fresh products and home-made soup bases, featuring a la carte and set menus as options for different diners,” says Hew Choong Yew, Executive Sous Chef, Lotus Palace. “A great ambience, as well as warm hospitality by friendly staff, ensures that guests are advised of the appropriate cooking time of each food item when it is served.”
All the set menus start with an appetiser and a selection of five supreme soup bases: Sichuan spicy broth, Chinese herbal chicken broth, winter melon and sweet corn with salty bone soup, white pepper and pork bone sweet corn soup, and coriander with century egg soup. Condiments, which are brought to the table on a trolley, include XO sauce, sesame sauce, Sichuan spicy sauce, satay sauce, Chaozhou chilli oil, Guilin chilli sauce, preserved radish chilli sauce, sesame oil, deep-fried garlic, Thai chilli, garlic, green and red chillies, and spring onions.
“The key to the hotpot is very fresh ingredients and great stock cooked with premium products,” says Choong, adding that that the ingredients should be “super healthy” with organic vegetables and wild seafood. The restaurant has an extensive menu, ranging from dim sum and barbecued meats to abalone, bird’s nest soup, live seafood, meats and poultry, and vegetarian selections.
Golden Court at Sands Macao offers a more traditional Cantonese style hotpot experience, with an emphasis on live seafood. The restaurant has 18 fish tanks with a wide variety of live fish and shellfish. The restaurant offers three bases: pork and chicken broth, coriander and preserved egg broth, and spicy chilli broth. Diners get individual hotpots, so they can select their base according to their personal preference.
As well as an a la carte menu there are two set menus, one focusing on Boston lobster, the other on wagyu beef. Both offer generous portions of other seafood and vegetables. There are midweek promotions from Monday until Thursday. Popular side dishes include wok-fried crab with garlic and onion, steamed
scallops with garlic, steamed gei wai shrimps, and wok fried crab with
home-made curry sauce.
“Most important, our ingredients are fresh, and the soup broth is rich,” says Lee Chiu Fat, Golden Court's Senior Chef. The eatery’s proximity to the casino, with its live entertainment, gives it a real buzz. It is open for lunch and dinner.
Xin, at Sands Cotai Central, offers a more casual dining experience and a pan-Asian selection of bases. As with the Golden Court, the bases are served individually to each diner. The most popular of the seven bases on offer is the Nyonya Laksa, which includes turmeric powder, ginger, lemongrass, curry leaves, coconut milk and broth; and Xin’s signature base, which comprises a fish and
lamb soybean broth.
While individual hotpots are heating up, diners can visit the buffet tables, offering ready-to-eat hot and cold dishes, as well as raw ingredients to be cooked in their
personal hotpots. There are fish tanks with live lobsters, clams, abalone and other delicacies. There is also a dessert counter.
Xin, which is Chinese for “fresh”, is the only hotpot restaurant in Macao to win the coveted Bib Gourmand Award from the 2017 Michelin Guide Hong Kong & Macau. The restaurant, open for lunch and dinner, serves a popular dim sum buffet with more than 70 dishes during weekends.
Last but by no means least on our simmering tour is Ping at The Plaza Macao, which is open to those who are 21 years of age or above. This is a truly refined
hotpot offering: with its high ceilings and large windows, the restaurant is filled with natural light during the day, and by night offers a grand view of the illuminated Eiffel Tower outside The Parisian Macao.
Chef Yap Kim Leong gives a detailed introduction to all the fish and shellfish in the restaurant's tanks, and says the Dalian abalone is a particular favourite – though the lobster was this guest's highlight of the meal. One of the stand-out features of the hotpot at Ping is the outstanding condiments selection, with its perfectly arranged pots glinting like a work of contemporary art in the light. Reservations are recommended!