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Restaurants & Bars 6

The elusive hot pot at Koi Palace

felice | Feb 24, 200505:37 PM

Finally, I had a chance to try it. But first, there is a short history. I tried to get hot pot at Koi Palace a year and a half ago and was unsuccessful. After waiting for a table and getting seated and after they brought tea, I was told that they only serve hot pot after 8pm. So there was no hot pot for us that night. Since then, I have read a handful of chowhound posts where people are looking for hot pot. Eventually, someone mentions that Koi Palace has hot pot. And somehow, no one is able to say much about it, leading me to conclude that no one has tried it.

Last week, someone in our party called and asked about hot pot. The person on the phone told him that they only serve it on weekdays and he should call on weekends to see if they will have it. Then last Friday, this person called again. This time, the person on the phone said they have it on weekends but not on weekdays. So he asked if they were serving hot pot that day (Friday). The answer was yes. He also asked if they were serving hot pot on Saturday. The answer was that he should call on Saturday. If anyone is confused by this, join the club. So he made a reservation for hot pot for 7 people at 7:30 on Friday.

When we arrived at the table there was a lazy susan but no sign of hot pot. We flagged down our very busy waiter and he was surprised that we wanted to order hot pot. He called over our hostess and we explained to both of them that we had made a reservation specifically for hot pot. We all had to leave the table so they could reset it. 5 minutes later we were back at the table and there was a burner in the middle of the table. Whew. It took a lot of effort to get to this point.

The waiter, knowing that we want hot pot, asks us how many orders we want. We had no idea, so we said 7 - that was the number of people in our group. We also requested water (which took forever to arrive). They brought us the pot with soup in it. There is mild and spicy but they taste the same pretty much. If you can handle the mild safeway salsa, you can handle the spicy soup. The food arrived pretty soon after and it was a lot of food. Quite intimidating.

They also brought us two sauces and some raw eggs. The first sauce was soy sauce based (although it was very sweet and similar to what you would put on steamed fish). The second sauce was satay sauce, also sweet. You can use the combination of the two any way you want. I would have preferred more options because I like my sauce on the saltier side.

The food was very good and consisted of a lot of seafood. 2 whole lobsters, cut up and still twitching. 1 crab, cut up. 7 scallops, 5 or so large oysters, many live head on shrimp, pieces of sea bass, geoduck clam, salmon skin, fried tofu, beef slices, tripe, egg noodles, bean thread noodles, spinach, watercress, 14 or so pieces of salmon sashimi (very good wild salmon), chicken, dumplings, sticky rice and that's all I can remember for now.

Everything was high quality, except for the sea bass which was tough (this had nothing to do with our cooking and everything to do with the cut). The geoduck was very flavorful, but we noticed they gave us some of the yellower pieces instead of the crunchier white pieces.

The shrimp were thrashing and jumping so I recommend you cook these at the end. One shrimp jumped from the plate into my sauce bowl and started thrashing. It was a big mess, as I got sauce all over my clothes and in my hair.

After the whole meal was over, I was stuffed. It took us 3 hours to finish and I could not eat another bite. I was amazed how much seafood we ate, since usually hot pot consists of mostly meat. For $22.50 per person, I thought this was a pretty good deal. It's only $10 more than the traditional all you can eat meat hot pot, and you get a lot of great seafood.

And I also highly recommend the peking duck dinner at Koi Palace also. $55 feeds four people and you get xiao long bao, duck three ways, a whole crab with noodles, and a steamed fish.

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