Halal hotpot so convenient
Hotpots are more fun when eaten in a group, whether with family or friends. It is easier to plan a bigger variety of ingredients to add to the pot and cooking at the table helps to oil lively conversations.
But with dining in currently restricted to two persons, enjoying it at home is a better option for bigger families. And you still don't have to do any work because you can get everything delivered, including the stove, pot and stocks. Some eateries and online shops are offering hotpot delivery and some are halal too.
HaHa Hotpot is a Muslim-owned, halal-certified steamboat I tried recently that I would recommend. Placing the order via its website is a breeze. You choose a package (from $39.90 for three persons to $129.90 for eight) which includes two or three soup bases with choices of mala, mushroom, collagen and tomato.
I pick the collagen and mala broths for my package that feeds up to four persons ($60.90). It comes with one type of meat (beef or mutton slices), one type of seafood (prawn, scallop or mussel) and other items such as beef balls, chicken shabu, fish slices and squid as well as assorted vegetables and mushrooms.
I add some a la carte orders of my favourite items like prawn paste ($7.90), white clams ($3.90) and beancurd roll ($4.90).
The collagen broth, which is brewed with chicken and beef, is decent, but it is the mala broth that makes a bigger impression. You can choose from mild, spicy and very spicy. I try the spicy version and it is not very oily, which is good. I actually find it pretty mild, so I think it should suit most palates and food cooked in it does not end up being too fiery or tongue-numbing.
The package includes ingredients - chilli paste, chilli padi, minced garlic and chopped coriander - for the dip, which you mix yourself. If you need more heat, just add more chillies.
The food quality is good, with the meats sliced very thinly so they cook fast. Everything, including the seafood, is fresh, which is really important for hotpots.
Do order the prawn paste, which is springy and sweet and has a nice crunch from chopped water chestnut.
What I find impressive too is the service provided by HaHa Hotpot. The delivery staff not only brings the stove, pot, ladles and tongs, but he also sets everything up and gets the broths simmering before he leaves.
And there is no need to wash anything before returning them. Just put the dirty pot and utensils in the bag provided and leave everything outside the door for collection. Text the delivery person and the next thing you know, the bag is gone.
What: HaHa Hotpot delivery
Price: Packages from $39.90
How to order: Go to HaHa Hotpot's website
Taste of nostalgia
Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant is celebrating its 65th anniversary by bringing back some dishes from its early days when it was a pushcart in Upper East Coast Road.
It has launched a 1956 menu that lists dishes such as Deep Fried "Golden Phoenix" With Spicy Sauce ($48), a whole deep-fried fish covered in a spicy sauce made with lemongrass, chilli padi, tamarind paste, sour plum, lime juice, fish sauce, ketchup, garlic, shallots and sugar. It is served, quite oddly, with papadum.
The sauce is very appetising and moreish - though, with its strong flavours, I enjoy it more with rice than the papadum.
Then there is Singapore Rojak ($12) that is topped with century egg, an unusual ingredient that goes pretty well with the pineapple, cucumber, turnip, green mango, taupok, you tiao and shrimp paste dressing.
These are dishes I'm too young to have eaten when they were first created. But I do remember enjoying items like Stir-fried Mussels In Soy Bean Sauce And Sambal Chilli (from $16) and Fried Kang Kong With Cuttlefish (from $18) at Palm Beach's Leisure Park Kallang outlet in the 2000s, before the restaurant moved to its current premises at One Fullerton in 2014. And they still taste as good today.
You can mix these nostalgic fare with the restaurant's perennial favourites such as Signature Chilli Crab and Creamy Crab (market price), which are on the main menu and should not be missed.
Where: Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant, 01-09 One Fullerton, 1 Fullerton Road
MRT: Raffles Place
Open: Noon to 2.30pm, 5.30 to 10.30pm daily
Satisfying pao fan trio
Steamboat chain Coca, which has outlets in Leisure Park Kallang, Suntec City and Ngee Ann City, has launched a trio of pao fan, or poached rice, that are available for dining in, takeaway and delivery.
Hua Diao Chicken Pao Fan ($15.90), Sliced Fish Pao Fan ($15.90) and Seafood Pao Fan ($16.90) are cooked with steamboat broths and ingredients, with a generous portion of crispy deep-fried rice to add texture.
I tried the seafood version, which is a very satisfying bowl packed with prawns, fish slices, flower clams, nai bai vegetable and deep-fried egg. The chicken broth is delicious and creamy with a slight stickiness that suggests a good dose of collagen.
The sliced fish version comes in the same double-boiled chicken broth, but has fish roll with ginger slices and no prawns or clams. It also has nai bai, fresh ginger, crispy deep-fried egg and crispy deep-fried rice besides steamed rice.
The chicken pao fan is rather interesting as the main item is a drunken chicken drumstick that is marinated in huadiao wine. I am a fan of the drunken chicken in Coca's hotpots, so this is on my list of what to try next.
The chain is also selling its steamboat broths, priced from $8.50 for 1 litre, for takeaway and delivery. They include Hua Diao Phoenix ($12), Tantalising Tom Yum ($8.50), Merciless Mala ($8.50) and Green Pepper Mala ($8.50).
For self-collection, there is a 20 per cent discount for all items.
Where: Coca with outlets at Leisure Park Kallang (tel: 6241-3833), Suntec City (tel: 6259-7176) and Ngee Ann City (tel: 6734- 7887)
MRT: Stadium, Promenade, Orchard
Open: Check with individual outlets for their operating hours
To order: For islandwide delivery, go to Coca's website.