Shop 43, Sunnypark Shopping Centre, Sunnybank
As the weather gets progressively colder, I'm finding it more and more difficult to function. Even getting out of bed seems inconceivable at times and doing chores and other necessities is practically out of the question. To boost motivation to drive myself home to Toowoomba late Friday night, I talked Marc into having hot pot for dinner.
Hot pot is a bit like fro-yo for me. I could have both all throughout the year but the cravings are definitely season dependant. When the weather is hot and sticky, I could live off frozen yoghurt. When the reverse is true, there's nothing more suitable for dinner than a steamy, bubbling hot pot.
Top Hot Pot is located in Sunnypark Plaza, next to Fortune Well. It was really busy when we got there with people queuing just to leave their name. I guess it's not at all surprising that other people are similarly drawn to hot pot in winter. We were lucky that we had made a booking earlier that night. Even so, we had to wait 5 minutes for our table to be ready but it was much less of a wait than others had to go through.
Upon being seated, a guy asked if we were there for the hot pot buffet. I hadn't even known that was an option but without bothering to pause and think about it, I nodded consent.
Our table was small and there was a little conduction square in front of each of us, ready for our individual hot pots to be placed on. The buffet contents were listed out on paper for us. All we had to do was select what soup base we wanted (one per person) and tick the hot pot ingredients we wanted to dry. Drinks (non-alcoholic) were included too, featuring some Asian beverages like prune juice and crysanthenum tea. There were a lot of things to choose from on our bit of paper, including meats like sliced lamb or beef, seafood, fish balls, tofu and vegetables.
Top Hot Pot Special soup base
Marc went with the Top Hot Pot Special Spicy soup base whilst I went with their regular Special soup base. His looked like a suicide broth all red and angry with floating chilies on top. I tried a bit and it wasn't as bad as I thought - numbing spicing instead of pure chili spicy. Having said that, I only had one droplet. Mine was a nice mild broth that later became flavored with the stuff I cooked in the pot.
Seafood and prawn paste
We tried an array of things to start with, including prawns, mussels, prawn wontons, prawn paste, fish tofu, regular tofu, wombok, bok choi, sliced beef and lamb. As always with these types of hot pots, my favorite is the sliced lamb. The prawn paste was quite fun too and I also liked the prawn dumplings.The vermicelli was very gluggy.
Tofu, vermicelli, prawn wontons and vegetables
I was a bit confused with the lack of sauce but a waitress pointed out the sauce station. There were heaps of different sauces, flavored oils and condiments to mix together and eat with our hot pot.
I made one up with sesame paste, chili oil, seasoned soy and garlic. It was pretty good and definitely improved the taste of my hot pot contents.
Sliced lamb and sliced beef
By the time we finished our first round, we were filling up but felt like a bit more of the delicious lamb and prawn wontons. A waitress came and took our second order but only the sliced lamb was brought out. We were full enough by then to not care but it was a bit of an oversight that they forgot our other food.
Throughout our meal, I had no idea how much the hot pot buffet would cost because we didn't know about it in advance. It was a nice surprise when the total came out as only $26 per person. The catch is you have to pay cash. I liked Top Hot Pot for the value and range of ingredients and sauces. The individual hot pots were really easy to use too. The service is hectic though and it's not easy to get someone's attention.