A well laid-out table at Mr. Hotpot in Oak Bay’s Estevan Village sees many options selected for proteins and vegetables. The sky is the limit for combinations, writes reviewer Allan Reid.

A well laid-out table at Mr. Hotpot in Oak Bay’s Estevan Village sees many options selected for proteins and vegetables. The sky is the limit for combinations, writes reviewer Allan Reid.

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Learn how to make your hotpot experience enjoyable

Allan Reid unearths another Asian cuisine gem in Estevan Village, Mr. Hotpot

We arrived at Mr. Hotpot in Estevan Village not sure what to expect.

The place is small: only eight tables for four, and they were full. Not a chair left empty, and every face Asian: a promising sign in a Chinese restaurant. But a two-hour wait would not do, so we took a good look around, noted the steaming vats of hearty soups centred on each table, and the colourful displays of thin-sliced raw meats, and assorted bowls of sauces decorated with chili coins and minced herbs. The whole place smelled divine, and all those Asian faces wore expressions of delight. Of course, we would return.

Reservations seemed to be in order, but Mr. Hotpot does not have a website and the phone rang unanswered until after 3 p.m. The restaurant opens at 5:00, but yes, a table is still available. One of just two set in the window. Its honey-blonde woodgrain hiding a boxy metal kicking hazard below: housing for the round heating element sunk into the table-top above. Our waitress was poor at explaining how best to order, and we made some mistakes, but one visit is enough to figure it out. Next time, ordering will be simple.

To begin, this is a culinary adventure in which everyone shares while still exploring their individual tastes. A meal consists of three parts. A broth base, assorted items to add to the broth, and an assortment of condiments to personalize your experience.

A ying-yang pot allows for two different soups. We chose spicy and mushroom, but tomato is also available. To these, we should have added frozen lumps of processed meat, mushrooms, noodles, frozen dumplings, and leafy vegetables, and let it all simmer into a hearty and aromatic soup before we started to eat, but we didn’t fully grasp that concept. So we added vermicelli, enoki mushrooms, black fungus and regular noodles, which left us still with a thin, but aromatic broth.

We side-stepped the processed meat balls and went directly to the fresh meat, choosing beef and lamb served thinly sliced and raw. Pork and sole are also on the menu. The beef is presented as a pile of bacon-like strips. The lamb (the unanimous favourite at our table) comes as a neat pile of rolls. Using chopsticks to pick up a strip or roll, we submerged them into our thin soups, family-style, failing to realize that we should have ladled soup into our personal little soup cups. Placed in the vat, the meat doesn’t take long to cook, and left too long it may disintegrate into the soup. But soup in the cups does not hold its heat long, so you’ll need to eat up and replenish to continue enjoying the fresh-cooked meat.

Every adult pays $31.99 ($17.99 for children) for all you can eat. But order more than you can eat, and the leftovers will be charged to you and packaged for take-away, so order a few items to start: you can always order more. Also, the price does not include the third element: the condiments, which we passed on.

Don’t follow our example. Access to the condiment counter costs another $2.50 per person and provides a selection of about a dozen sauces, including peanut, sweet hoisin and spicy chili, to which you can add finely diced peppers and herbs. Choose your own proportions, mix and match and daub a little or a lot into your personal soup bowl. The end result should be a hearty cascade of flavours and textures.

A delightful adventure, indeed, and next time we’ll get it right.

Mr. Hotpot, 2510 Estevan Ave.

Oak Bay 778-265-8882

FoodRestaurant review

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Scaredy Cats television series has turned Empress Avenue in Fernwood into a Halloween themed neighbourhood. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Trick or treat! Halloween comes to Fernwood in January

New television series Scaredy Cats filming in Victoria

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Braden Holtby’s new mask designed in collaboration with Luke Marston and David Gunnarsson. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
Vancouver Island Coast Salish artist unveils new mask for Canucks goalie

Braden Holtby’s new mask features artwork by Luke Marston inspired by the legend of the seawolf

Ty Wesley, Nicole Darlington and Cameron Macaulay (from left) performed in the Beholder Entertainment production <em>Gender Sucks!</em> in the 2020 Nanaimo Fringe Festival. (Video still courtesy Sam Wharram)
Nanaimo Fringe Festival artist lottery open to local and B.C. playwrights

Organizers hope to stage plays in-person at indoor and outdoor venues this summer

Canadian singer-songwriter-actor Joëlle Rabu will join her son, Nico Rhoades, for a livestream performance courtesy the Tidemark Theatre Jan. 29. Photo submitted
Mother/son powerhouses Joelle Rabu and Nico Rhodes join forces for Island livestream

Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre hosts online music revue

Dr. John Hooper is the new conductor of Island Voices. Photo supplied
Island Voices welcomes new conductor

Dr. John Hooper to lead mid-Island based choir

Jorie Benjamin does a modern dance performance to ‘La Vie en rose’ by Édith Piaf, Louis Gugliemi and Marguerite Monnot, choreographed by Elise Sampson during the Cowichan Music Festival’s Highlights Concert at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on March 1, 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Music Festival cancelled for 2021

The festival had already been limited to solo performances only for 2021

<em>Chinook Salmon: Breaking Through</em> by B.C.’s Mark Hobson was selected among 13 entries as the winner of the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salmon Stamp Competition.
Stained-glass lighting casts a win to B.C. salmon artist

Painting of chinook is Mark Hobson’s third win in annual contest

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”. The natural photo art for the album includes Vancouver Island mountains, rivers and beaches. Scenes from the Cowichan River, Witchcraft Lake, Pipers Lagoon, Wall Beach and other popular Island recreation destinations accentuate the album. (RICHIErichieRichie Music Publishing photo)
Serenity Now! Richie Valley debuts third LP dubbed Apollonian

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”

Victoria artist Noah Layne is conducting online workshops on portrait drawing as part of the Metchosin ArtPod’s About Face portrait show. (Photo courtesy of Noah Layne)
Metchosin Art Pod doing an about-face

Renowned artist Noah Layne hosting online classes in portrait drawing

This weekend Amy Pye is holding a virtual book launch for her latest children’s book, <em>Bruce the Silly Goose</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Victoria writer and illustrator pens children’s book about COVID-19 safety

Amy Pye to hold online book launch for ‘Bruce the Silly Goose’

Most Read