63 Nathan Road
Kowloon, Hong Kong
I do my best to plan a variety of meals when I travel. I easily tire of food, and being in one country usually means I’m eating one cuisine. We’d been having a lot of noodles, so it was time for some hot pot. We were originally going to try Nabe One, an all-you-can-eat shabu shabu restaurant recommended by Overlord. 3SB never heard of that place and didn’t think it was a good idea. Instead, he recommended Budaoweng, which was neither AYCE or cheap, Chinese style hot pot The Google search results for Budaoweng were more promising than for Nabe One, which did not have much of an internet presence. Budaoweng serves not only hot pot, but dim sum and fresh seafood sashimi style as well. The latter were tempting, but we came for the hot pot.
The restaurant has a few locations throughout Hong Kong. The one in Kowloon near Tsim Sha Tsui is at the top of the iSQUARE shopping center. It has some scenic view of the harbor, unfortunately marred by the myriad of construction cranes. The restaurant is surprisingly clean and elegantly modern. It reminded me of Din Tai Fung.
Sauces & Garnishes xo, chili, sa cha, fresh chilies, green onions, garlic, daikon, wasabi
It may seem obvious that great hot pot comes from high quality ingredients. What is less obvious is the quality of the sauces. What sets Chinese style hot pot aside from Japanese shabu shabu, has to be the sauces. Japanese shabu shabu usually has only 2 options, ponzu and goma (sesame sauce). A drop of capsaicin may add some heat, and garnishes like green onions or grated daikon may be offered as well. Chinese hot pot always offers sa cha or a satay-like sauce. I usually only eat this with hot pot, but it can be used as a marinade for grilled meat, in stir fry, or as base for soups. You may be more familiar with it in this form:
They also offered a very tasty XO sauce. It might have been more dried shrimp than dried scallops, but it was still the most delicious thing on that tray. It really made the hot pot that much tastier. Their sa cha and chili sauce were particularly tastier than the standard as well. Overall, the sauces played a huge role in making Budaoweng a very special experience.
Reviewers on Open Rice (Hong Kong’s version of Yelp), recommended the shrimp dumplings.
Being fresh and full of shrimp, the dumplings cooked quite quickly. The dumpling was a fantastic start and a sign of great things to come.
We ordered a medley selection of different vegetables. Pretty standard.
I actually was looking for thicker chewier noodles, but got egg noodles instead. When cooked it still hit the spot.
Chef’s Fresh Marbled Beef
Now is when the quality of hot pot ingredients becomes key. The beef was impressively marbled and the slices were thicker than usual. That made for very juicy pieces of beef. The Annoyer liked his beef pretty rare, while I liked it more well done. He likes his veggies super overcooked and mushy, while I like mine just barely cooked and crispy. We could agree that the beef here was AMAZING. The beef dipped into the tasty selection of sauces really made for one of the highlights of the vacation. YUMS!
Beef Brisket Soup with Radish
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the soup base. Unlike Japanese shabu shabu, where boiling water with a piece of kombu is used to cook your food. Chinese hot pot allows for a variety of flavored soup bases. Some of the choices included chicken soup with fish maw, tomato and corn with lobster soup, bitter melon and pickles with salty ribs, and pepper pig tripe soup with beancurd sheet. I was very happy with my pick. The soup had that deep beefy flavor with the sweet lightness of radish. Before cooking all the food, the soup base was already pretty delicious and flavorful on its own. Afterwards, it was pot of concentrated deliciousness. YUMS!
Some wonder how good can hot pot really be? It’s just raw stuff quickly cooked in boiling water or soup. To understand how something so simple can be leaps and bounds better than the fanciest food out there, you must make a visit to Budaoweng. It’s pretty pricy for hot pot coming in at $50 per person, but it turned out to be a lot of food. After a while, I stopped eating the meat even and just ate mostly vegetables. It was just that good. I will certainly come back to Budaoweng if ever in Hong Kong again.
10 – You NEED to eat here
9 – Awesome (minus points for price)
8 – Very good
7 – Good
6 – OK
5 – Average
4 – Not bad
3 – Not good
2 – Terrible
1 – Do NOT eat here