Monday, August 06, 2018

Upin Hot Pot (優品火锅) - A Cheaper Yet Quality Alternative to Haidilao @ Clarke Quay Central [Singapore]

In the past, whenever someone asked where is the best hotpot in Singapore; i would immediately respond "Haidilao (海底捞)" even though personally, i do find the pricing from the China-originated restaurant a bit hard to stomach.

My reply is different nowadays and credit must be given to a group of friends who brought me to Upin Hot Pot at Clarke Quake Central; it was memorable enough for me to make a second trip a week later with my parents and two sisters. 

Those interested in a better view should ask for seating that faced the Singapore River! If you happen to be there in the daytime, the natural sunlight would also work wonder for the photos you take.

Now, everyone is always super duper impressed with the service from Haidilao (海底捞) and i must say it's really topnotch; to the extent you feel like a gold class VIP. 

Service at Upin might not be as spectacular yet it would be considered very good compared to many restaurants in Singapore; for example, the provision of a hot towel for every customer! p.s given our warm and humid weather, a cold towel is preferred though.

For a person who wears spectacles, it's a frustration when we eat steamboat (hotpot) as condensation on the lenses is part and parcel of our life. Although Upin can't do anything about it, it's nice of its staff to provide me with a piece of high quality glass wipe! 

Paper tissue instead of wet wipes on the table and unlimited plain water / hot tea! You may top up with a sweetened drink (free flow too) if you prefer something sweet to complement the hotpot.

Basket for all your bags and you don't even have to request for them! The attentive staff noticed and without a word; brought out the baskets for us! That, to me, is quality service! 

As with Haidilao (海底捞), there's a charge for free flow seasoning and fruits but the fee was way cheaper at only S$3.00 per person at Upin. Want to know what fruits are provided? Please refer to the pictures below.

I think it's quite standardized to have oranges and watermelon but rockmelon and cherry tomatoes might not be as common, at least not for a restaurant with ala-carte instead of buffet offerings! 

Seasonings were quite the standard ones although those who had eaten hotpot with me would know my typical, customized dip comprising of just a few key ingredients.

Sesame / Peanut sauce with peanuts, sesame seeds, coriander leaves and if possible, a spoonful of sugar! I don't fancy other kind of dips which were either too salty or overly spicy for me. If you are in doubt of what to mix in, check with the friendly staff! The dip my sister got, upon advice from the staff, was not quite good. 

You can choose from one to three types of hotpot, fill them up with a selection of ten different soup bases and get to choose the spiciness/intensity! The soup bases are three delicacy, tom yum soup, chicken soup, tomato soup, mushroom soup, pork bone soup, sour soup, sichuan spicy, boiled fish with sichuan and butter soup.

Next up would be the selection of ingredients! I am fixated on what to have for my hotpot and it usually comprises of just meat, seafood and if possible, no vegetables! Well, can't say the same for the rest of my health conscious family members. 

Our three-pot hotpot consisting of three delicacy, chicken soup and tomato soup! For first-time diners, i would suggest going for a normal spiciness / intensity. I was happy with my choice of tomato soup which was comparable to Haidilao (海底捞)

A staff member would scoop a bowl of soup for your tasting and that, to me, represents the confidence they have in their soup bases! However, i can make do without the 'tasting' and save time by going straight into throwing the raw ingredients into the hot pot! 

Some of the ingredients we ordered; i understand from my friends that Upin now offers half portion which would be helpful if your group is not big. [correction] apparently this half portion potions are not implemented in all the stores. Do check beforehand! 

Why did i like Haidilao (海底捞) so much in the past? Aside from the delicious tomato soup base, i love the fact that the meatballs were all freshly prepared and not frozen; just like the ones from Upin

The staff member helping us to throw in the mashed shrimp! My personal favourites for ingredients would be the mashed shrimp, handmade shrimp balls, handmade mushroom meat balls and the thinly sliced meat, like black pork etc, which can be shabu-shabu. 

Time to start the feast! 

Relishing every meat i had with a dip in my customized sauce! Oh man, my mouth is watering now that i am typing out this sentence. Technically, i can still patronize the store as the one at Clarke Quay closes at 3am! 

The rock melon was so sweet and nice! I think i easily had half a melon by myself and that's considering how full i was with the rest of the hotpot ingredients.

While food should be our main focus, i would strongly encourage you to look out for the traditional Sichuan face-changing performance! Despite seeing similar performances so many times over the years, the speed at which the mask changes never fails to marvel me! 

And you know what's more amazing? The performer was one of the workers and you can see him helping out after the performance, with sweat continued to roll down his forehead! One word, respect! 

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Our family had a fantastic time (with the food, the service, the performance) and we are so definitely going back again! And if they are open on the eve of lunar new year; there's almost a guaranteed chance we would drop by for reunion dinner! 

Location
6, Eu Tong Sen Street,
#03-87, Clarke Quay Central,
Singapore 059817

Opening Hours
11.00 am to 3.00 am

Website

Pricing
Three Pot - S$16.00
Seasoning / Fruits - S$3.00 per person
Mashed Shrimp - S$12.00
Mushroom Meatballs - S$8.00
Shrimp Balls - S$12.00
Pork Belly - S$8.00
Black Pork - S$10.00
Oyster Mushroom - S$4.00
Black Fungus - S$4.00
Fried Tofu Skin - S$4.00
Fresh Tofu - S$4.00 
Chinese Cabbage - S$4.00
Indian Lettuce - S$4.00
(Subject to GST and Service Charge)

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