A friend of mine invited us to dinner last week at Spice Palace, a new Chinese hot pot restaurant which opened up near her house recently. The restaurant’s decor is reminiscent of days gone by, with lanterns and red hues throughout — the color of prosperity and good luck in the Chinese culture. I also apologize for not having prices since my friend treated us to dinner.
We ordered a duo pot of stock — one with no spices for the kids, and the other at medium spice level.
There is an island of self-serve condiments to create a sauce to dip the cooked items in, once you’ve fished them out of the stock pot. We ordered three types of meat plus various miscellaneous accompaniments for our meal. The kids pounced on the meats…
We had prime beef, which was very chewy after cooking. I do not recommend this at all.
The fatty beef is a better choice, and cooks up well without ending up being chewy.
Lamb was the all around favorite meat, and the kids devoured three plates of this.
When I go to hotpot, I love trying the various “balls” on the menu, especially if it’s homemade. We opted for the duo combination which comes with meatballs dotted with cilantro…
… and octopus balls. Both were absolutely delicious with great texture and flavor. We got another order of these as well!
The trio of tofu comes with regular tofu, fish tofu, and “frozen” tofu. It took me a long time to appreciate frozen tofu. As a child, I hated the spongy texture and how strange it felt in my mouth.
We also ordered egg dumplings which I forgot to take a photo of. The dumplings are filled with a mixture of meat and glass noodles with a wrapper made completely out of egg. Think a dumpling made out of an omelette wrapper.
Of course, we can’t have hotpot without vegetables. We order tong ho (chrysanthemum leaves), Napa cabbage, spinach, and lettuce. While the vegetables tasted fine, I was rather concerned by how they never lost their bright green hue, after rapid boiling in the stock for more than 20 minutes. Even towards the end, I fished out several strands of vegetables from the pot which retained its vibrant hue.
With so many hotpot restaurants popping up in the Irvine area, it is hard to choose the right one to dine at. Although I enjoyed my meal here, it bothered and perplexed me that the vegetables did not change color throughout the cooking process. Maybe I’ll go back again and give them another try after a few months.
3967 Irvine Blvd
Irvine, CA 92602