On a recent holiday visit to Herbie the Lovebug's house for dinner, we were discussing great places to eat (of course we would!). While Herbie was proudly showing off his pics from his dinner at Per Se in NYC (Thomas Keller's place) on his iPad, he mentioned another restaurant in town he thought highly of. Oh? Something on the same level as Per Se? Could that be? In Vancouver??? Turns out that Herbie has restaurant ADD and was onto a different type of restaurant. Rather than the a Michelin 3-star establishment, he was referring to a dive known as "the Chinese character for soup" dot com. For those who can't read Chinese characters or were already annoyed at the "artist formerly known as Prince", the English name of the place is the The One Spot Soup House. Herbie was excited that they offered real hot pot rice that had the classic rice crust on the bottom of the pot.
After dropping off our son at Costanza's house for a sleepover, Viv and I head over to 湯.com to see for ourselves. Okay, the place is the true definition of a dive. No decor whatsoever and with Costco chairs and a few tables, this was it. No matter, if the food is good, who really cares? As the name of the place suggests, we went for the Herbal Chicken Soup to start. Presented in its own clay pot with paper sealing the top, the soup was served boiling hot. There was definitely a herbal flavour to it, in this case "Ching Bo Leun". The meat itself was quite tough, but it was meant for flavour more than anything. With a sprinkle of salt, the soup was pretty satisfying especially for a cold, wet day. After this, there as a long wait period of about 20 minutes because every order of hot pot rice is made from scratch.
We ended up getting 2 hot pot rice and each came with a complimentary soup (which was good) and a small container of pickled daikon and carrots. Viv went for the Chicken Hot Pot Rice with shitake mushrooms and Chinese preserved sausage topped with a few stalks of yau choy. The hot pots average around $7.00 and for the amount of food, it is a fair price. There should be enough to satisfy one person. Back to the hot pot, there was plenty of moist, tender chicken atop the perfectly chewy rice.A bottle of sweetened soy sauce was provided at the table if needed. We were quite conservative with the soy since the chicken had sufficient seasoning already (especially combined with the Chinese sausage).
For myself, I had the Pork and Preserved Vegetable Hot Pot Rice. I added a salted duck egg as well. They weren't stingy on the meat as it was a thick patty almost totally covering the rice. The meat was smooth, bouncy and tender. The bits of preserved veggie added some zing and saltiness to the moderately seasoned meat. I particularly liked that the meat wasn't overly fatty either. But the real treat was at the bottom and sides of the hot pot. The "fan gew" or rice crust was crunchy and nutty. Very aromatic and texturally pleasing to eat. If someone wanted to point out that these type of hot pot rice at Dim Sum restaurants usually costs less, the reason is that they are normally steamed, not over a flame. Furthermore, these here have not been sitting around, they are made-to-order and it shows in the final product. Certainly not the most sexiest food out there, but it is something comforting and
- Fair pricing
- Prepared fresh
- Lots of choices
- The decor makes wonton noodle joints look luxurious
- Service is friendly, but sparse