Da Long Yi Hotpot is like discovering a hidden gem, wishing you found it a long time ago. Located on Dixon Street in Haymarket (Sydney's Chinatown Asian food central), I had the pleasure of attending as a guest and discovering the exotic spicy Chengdu's culinary flavours and textures.
The staffs were welcoming, friendly and knowledgeable. We had an absolute blast cooking our food in the hot pot and exploring exotic flavours. It was such an enjoyable gastronomic experience, and we cannot wait to come back and explore the other delights off the menu.
The venue reminded me of being back in Asia. The traditional eye-catching decor, which included the gold Chinese/Imperial guardian lions that were showcased everywhere, from the impressive iron cast 3D mural to them being scattered around the sauce and condiment section to even being the handles on the hot pot!
The menu boasted with soup bases, platters featuring vegetables, meat, seafood, and offal. The Soup Bases consisted of plain Szechuan Spicy Soup Base or Double Flavoured Soup Base which is half traditional Szechuan Spicy Soup and half tomato, mushroom or pickled vegetables.
The Signature Dishes consisted of exotic and offal meats including Duck Intestine, Thousand-layered Tripes, Pork Kidney, and the less intense dishes like the Fresh Mince Prawns, Spicy Beef Slices, and Beef Cubes.
Other menu items to add to the soup base included noodles, fish, meatballs, lamb slices, vegetables of all sorts, and if you were brave Fresh Pig Blood, Duck Blood Beancurd, Boneless Duck Feet, Smooth Port Liver and much more.
There was also an extensive drink menu which included their ice milk teas. The exciting creations featured Matcha Red Bean Milk, Black Sugar Fresh Milk, Mother's Favourite, Bamboo Charcoal Milk Tea, Cheese Foam Durlan and classic flavours including Lychee Green Tea, Green Tea, Jasmine Green Milk Tea and many others.
Other beverages included beers, Chinese liquor, hot teas, soft drinks and juices.
We ordered the Black Medlar Collagen Ice Tea ($7.20) and the Bamboo Charcoal Milk Tea ($6.20). We decided we wanted to pick something different and unique and we certainly did get that!
The Black Medlar Collagen sounded unusual and was a risk that paid off deliciously. It was an ice tea drink filled with fruity and sweet flavours. The peach flavour complemented our hot pot soup and dishes and was a welcome coolness from the spice.
The Black Medlar Collagen and The Bamboo Charcoal Milk Tea
The Bamboo Charcoal Milk Tea was undoubtedly not what I expected it to taste like. It was creamy, milky, and the pearl jelly added a textural effect, and the flavours worked so well together, just like the Black Medlar Collagen it added coolness from the spice dishes.
Both drinks were refreshing and filled with delicious flavours and textures. Each beverage had its unique taste and twist, and we were glad we picked the flavours we did.
Honestly, I was not sure what to expect. We have had Hot Pot in South Korea, but never tried Chinese Hot Pot, so it was exciting, and our taste buds were in anticipation of what is to come. It was such a fun experience to pick your soup base with the side dishes you want—tick what soup base you want, followed with the meals you want in your soup.
My partner and I love spicy foods, and fortunately, our taste buds agree with this love, but I must say, we got hit with that hotness, however, it was bearable and enjoyable.
Our accommodating waiter told us he recommends Little Spicy as their spicy is not like other places and I do recommend the little spicy as a first-timer to the restaurant, and of course, if you require more heat, you can ask the wait staff for more.
We decided we wanted to try the best of both worlds and ordered the Double Flavoured Soup Base ($29.80) with Little Spicy option and tomato.
The Double Flavoured Soup Base- Light Spicy & Tomato
We complemented the soup base with "safe dishes" (we didn't feel adventurous that evening) Fresh Minced Prawns ($15.80), Beef Slices ($12.80), Basa Slices ($9.80), Mussels ($13.80), Wild Bamboo Shoots ($6.80), Bok Choy ($5.80) and Vegetable Platter ($18.80).
We started our meal with the Spring Onion Pancake ($5.80).
The Spring Onion Pancake was one of the best I tasted. The best way to describe a Chinese spring onion pancake is its savoury, unleavened flatbread and if made right, you get a nice crisp, yet a slightly chewable texture and shouldn't be soggy.
The Double Flavoured Soup Base- Little Spicy broth and the other half tomato which included Ox Tail in a rich tomato broth arrived at the table. As soon as the waiter placed it on our table cooker, the aromas hit us of chillies and delicate aromas from the tomato broth mixed with the meaty oxtail.
We watched it excitingly in anticipation as it the hot pot heated and our plates of side dishes began to arrive. Every dish presented to us was filled with attention to detail. The dishes were presented beautifully, almost like a piece of art.
The Fresh Mince Prawns were scooped up by our waiter into small balls and with precision she placed each ball half in the Little Spicy and the other half in the tomato base broth and then she politely left, leaving us to be.
The prawns took around 3 minutes to cook. (Each dish has its cooking time on the menu). We tried the Little Spicy prawn ball, the flavour was mouth-watering, and the spice did not take away from the delicate taste of the meat.
The tomato-based prawn had a delightful taste to it. You got the flavour from the tomato mixed with the oxtail meat. The combination was tasteful and quite addictive. The prawn texture was minced, therefore, it added to that extra element of surprise to both broth flavours.
The spicy soup added depth to the meat and created a pleasant aftertaste of beef mixed with hotness from the spice. The tomato base was delicious too, however, I preferred the spicy soup, as the tomato with oxtail added an extra "meaty" taste for my palate.
The Basa fish slices and Mussels were of a generous sizing and took around 2-3 minutes to cook. Just like the other dishes, the Basa and Mussels married up beautifully with both the Little Spicy and tomato-based soup.
Overall, every element was presented immaculately, both soup bases with each side dish offered a delicious feast of aromas, textures and flavours. Each meat and seafood dish was top quality and fresh, and nothing could be faulted.
Our senses went into overdrive, and our taste buds couldn't get enough of the tantalising dishes, even though we weren't being brave and stuck to what we know, not one dish disappointed.