Garden City Hot Pot
#1205 Cosmo Plaza, 8788 McKim Way
(604) 303 0970
<a href="December 2009 re-visit post here
Original post below:
The City of Richmond continues to hold a multitude of undiscovered places to eat for me – being that its not a place that I live, commute through, or work in. And during one recent drive out to the area on my way to BonQuLa, when I passed by the bold lettering for Garden City Hot Pot I knew that one day I’d be back. Although on my return weeks later, I discovered that this restaurant is not directly accessible from Garden City Road and you have to cut in by a block and find the parking lot nearby.
The shared, communal concept that pervades a hot pot dining experience hearkens back to the days of earlier human civilizations. Huddled over an outdoor fire pit, with some freshly killed game meat being grilled over the open flame, or in a vessel with water brought to a boil, I can just picture the world’s first food critic being born around a place like this. After all, this interactive setting is so conducive to generating conversation amid all the splashing, dunking and gorging. The waiting time required for things to cook at the table, clearly being the main ingredient for this to happen.
In today’s world, this style of dining is clearly still well suited to group gatherings. How else can you enjoy a large variety of ingredients from meats to veggies, that can be plunged into flavorful broths and then dipped in even more taste bud stimulating sauces, and ensure a constant flow of this over hours? As our group entered the restaurant and was asked for a five minute wait while they set up our table, I could see that the entire place was full, and there were some parties that were easily 12-15 people large! A someone who is not adverse to dining alone if the occasion necessitates, I think that hot pot would be one of the few exceptions to feeling comfortable in eating solo.
The offerings here are not only plentiful but quite fresh. Given the high turnover and large numbers of people dining, I suppose this shouldn’t have been as shocking as I may have initially supposed. Not everything that was ordered at our table is pictured in this post (some were taken after lightning quick chopsticks had already done their damage, and I simply gave up trying to capture each item) each plate was met with eagerness and tasted excellent – nothing that was obviously still in a thawing state or smelling funky.
Looking back, I think I was especially fond of their tofu and these fish and shrimp balls that retained their chewy texture but packed with seafood flavor. At home, sliced meats and vegetables are easy to prepare for a hot pot-style meal, but I don’t think I would go to the effort of making such little balls of food processor-ized fish, and perhaps this is partly why I was so enthralled with them.
With some children under five years of age in tow, the selected broths were of the more neutral ones, but this was made up by the array of dipping sauces. A wheeled trolley came by our table, and the female server asked for our choice from many sauces, and in my starving state, I simply said give me them all!
As I had turned my back to her in order to speak to a friend, a minute later she plunked down a single bowl in front of me with all of the sauces in it. This was not what I had in mind, but with a slight language barrier and an urge to get my meal underway, I just ran with it. With the whole mix and match them of this meal though, it didn’t end up being so bad, as it was almost like a sweet, salty, spicy, sour blend that worked well with all of the cooked ingredients.
It wasn’t until we’d left, that I found that Garden City Hot Pot is part of the Top Gun Group of restaurants, which includes their other hot pot place in the Crystal Mall (Burnaby), and their dreadful All-You-Can-Eat-Crap Sushi places (Kingsway Sushi, Richmond Sushi, Top Gun Sushi). This won’t deter me from a repeat visit though, as we had an enjoyable and filling meal. With other different broths and ingredients to try still, I am sure another solid dinner can be had at this same place.
More recent reports from Richmond to follow on Foodosophy, so stay tuned…