5441 Falsbridge Drive NE
Calgary, AB T3J 3E8
September 2008 re-visit post here
Original post below:
Hot Pot, Fondue, Shabu Shabu. All variations of the same theme.
Chinese Hot Pot, better known in Western Culture as Chinese Fondue, is one of the most regionalized meals available in China. Drawing its origins from the ancient Mongolian hot pot developed by the northern tribes, any type of meat, vegetable, or starch is conceivably a hot pot ingredient. With a variety of different broths to dip in. one could go as far as to say no two hot pots are ever the same.
The appeal of hot pot is the interactivity of the meal – it is a highly social activity. Suitable for 2 to 20, it is a slow-paced, interactive meal. In today’s modern age, it also happens to be a very healthy form of cooking. Lightly dipping various fresh ingredients in broth to cook, and then dip in a variety of different sauces, is the extent of the requirements for a good hot pot meal. Usually, it’s quite affordable to boot. A relative triple threat on a culinary scale.
With restaurants like Treasures of China going downhill, the hot pot scene in Calgary was in a very poor state. Hot pot was mostly an afterthought, a dish available on expansive menus that served a variety of dishes and cuisines. And it was getting expensive. Where would one go for hot pot!?
In the NE of Calgary, is a restaurant that specializes in hot pot. Gold Wonton. Not sichuan, peking, shanghai, cantonese cuisine… hot pot.
Gold Wonton is a fairly simple place. Clean in decor, they have basic booths and tables. Every booth has a hot plate in the center, and a control knob to control the temperature. The hotpot comes with a divider, giving you the ability to order two broths. There is, of course, an extra charge for changing up one of the broths.
The menu itself is the most complicated part of Gold Wonton. Able to order all you can eat (AYCE – $22.95), or by the plate, there are an infinite number of selections available – yes, wontons as well. Different broths, different ingredients. It is important to note though, that many premium ingredients (fatty beef, crab, lobster) are only available with an extra surcharge. An often hefty surcharge charge indeed. AYCE is the better option for first timers, or for a diverse crowd. If you know exactly what you want, you may be able to save a few dollars ordering by the plate. I prefer the flexibility and the variety of AYCE. Different flavoured broths, while requiring a small extra charge ($4 on average), are well worth the investment.
The ingredients are very fresh. Thinly sliced and well prepared, there are no complaints. “Gold” Wontons are good, the fish balls and cuttlefish particularly good. Even the tofu is fresh! There are a huge variety of broths. Different flavours, and spice levels to suit everyone. There are also a wide variety of sauces, including my favorite, the classic Sa-cha, vinegar, and soy sauce. The only common complaint is cost – for premium items, which taste better, you pay more. A lot more. There is nothing wrong with the quality of regular ingredients, it is only that premium ones are better. And the price becomes fairly sticker shocking for a meal as simple as hot pot when you go the premium route. Otherwise, you have a great hot pot.
Hot pot is one of those meals that spans all cultures. No matter what a person’s diverse tastes are, chances are, there is something they will like about hot pot. When you go for hot pot in Calgary, try Gold Wonton. It’s fresh, and it’s good. Just make sure you bring your wallet. It isn’t cheap – which for hot pot, is not so golden.