Do you know what kind of business makes the richest man in Singapore? Retail, real estate or even education? None of these. The richest man in Singapore built his food empire with hotpot restaurants in China. He now has 370 restaurants worldwide.
18th Street Hot Pot is not your traditional hot pot restaurant.
To people without Chinese background, it may be quite daunting to look at the hotpot menu and order things that they have never tried or even heard before. Now, you can experience hotpot in a different way in Adelaide. The 18th Street Hot Pot restaurant in China Town has lifted the veil of hotpot. All hot pot food available is on display on the refrigerated shelves for customers to pick and choose.
Hotpot ingredients displayed on refrigerated shelves
Let me explain the flow of the restaurant as it can be quite confusing to the first-timers since it is not quite your traditional restaurant nor take-away tucker. The first step is to get a bowl and a pair of tongs to pick your own food. However, there is a limit to how many customers can be catered to. If the eating area is already full, a waitress will regulate the flow, i.e. ask you to wait. Once you receive the green light to pick the food, you can help yourself and go crazy with what you want to eat. Be it noodles, seafood, meat or vegetables etc.. The fun part is also to check out what those ingredients are and decide whether you are game enough to give it a go. There are so many different kinds of noodles to go with the food as well as some really unusual things like duck blood, fish ball with roe, yam, winter melon and even braised beef tendon. Will you try any of these?
Once you make up your mind, head over to the counter to pay. It costs $3.0 per 100g with a minimum weight of 400g per bowl. We did a game among ourselves to see whose bowl was the lightest. The winner's bowl will be paid for. It's not easy to win when you want to try everything on display. Please note that there are only 3 choices of stock to go with the food: little spicy, spicy and very spicy. I suggest to go easy for the first time. The cashier will ask you to choose the stock. Be prepared.
You will be given a number after payment. That's when you can sit down and relax. It usually takes about 20 minutes in the peak hour for the freshly cooked hotpot to arrive. While you are waiting, why not help yourself with condiments & fresh herbs at the self-serve counter. Choices include Szechuan pepper oil, tahini, coriander, chopped garlic, etc .. Feel free to explore and create your perfect blend.
Every time I come here, it is quite busy. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy this one-of-a-kind experience. The food is delicious and definitely unexpected. From memory, I never remember what I have put into my bowl. Surprise always!