I'm not the biggest fan of Chinese hot pot or steamboat restaurants in Melbourne. Most are lacking in some area, be it a limited choice of dishes and soups, poor ventilation, untidy premises or a hefty price. Until I stumbled on a Chinese restaurant in Docklands Waterfront City. Part of the Gold Leaf Chinese Restaurants Group, the Gold Leaf Docklands BBQ serves steamboat, paper grilled and a-la-carte Cantonese dishes.
This unassuming venue offers an all-you-can-eat hot pot lunch at only $23.80 regardless of weekdays or weekends. Apart from the price, the restaurant was neat and tidy, with comfortable seating and a friendly atmosphere. Tables are sizable to accommodate one large hot plate in the middle and flanked by four smaller ones. None of the famously tiny tables in Melbourne's restaurants.
The life or death of any steamboat or hot pot restaurant hinges on the quality of the dishes. You simply can't hide freshness or the lack of it in the ingredients. There is no chef to add the magic touch of sauces and spices. Here is where Gold Leaf stands out against the other restaurants.
The menu offers an ample range of seafood, meat, offal, vegetables, patties and noodles to fill up any hungry diner. Some highlights include baby abalone and fresh oysters [limited to 1 serve], scallops, prawns, beef ribs, pig blood jelly, snow pea shoots, fish noodles and the patties [which are made in-house].
You also get a choice of soups and size of steamboat pots, allowing to have a small individual pot or a larger shared pot. Self-serve condiments are also available so you can make your own dipping sauces.
Apart from the usual impact of the Saturday crowd madness, the service is very attentive, prompt and polite. While steamboat or hot pot meals are more of a Chinese thing, it would be great to see other cultures enjoy the original taste of fresh ingredients cooked simply in a tasty broth. With ticks on service, ambiance, price and food quality, this restaurant is surely the best value-for-money hot pot meal with family and friends in the CBD for now.
Where do you think the Best Chinese Hot Pot in Melbourne is?
Share your experiences with us in the comment box.