Sumptuous Steamboat

 
Platter of fresh ingredients to cook in
boiling steamboat broth at Ho & Ho
With the Lunar New Year just around the corner, many families are eagerly anticipating their annual reunion dinner traditionally served in a steamboat meal.  This is a once-a-year tradition where family members chip in to prepare fresh ingredients like slicing fresh meats and washing vegetables before they sit down to cook and savour the meal together.  With several good steamboat restaurants in the city, this tradition is now slightly tweaked as families are relieved from tedious preparation and need only sit down to enjoy their meal.

Having established a reputation for quality and affordability, these steamboat restaurants have a loyal clientele who not only patronise their businesses at the Lunar New Year, but all year round.  That’s because there’s always a convivial atmosphere among friends or family members when they dine over a steamboat and the soupy meal usually fills you up before you can be guilty of gluttony!


Steaming hot-pot with cooked ingredients at Ho & Ho
Some steamboat restaurants like Kitamura Thai Suki & Shabu Shabu also offer a choice of Chinese-Thai-Japanese broths like herbal, spicy tom yam or miso.  One of the unique features of dining at Kitamura is the pleasure of helping yourself to a range of sauces and condiments at their Sauce Island. 

You can combine your favourite blend of delicious dips from sliced chillies, chopped garlic, roasted sesame seed paste, spring onions and coriander leaves among other condiments or just enjoy their signature Thai Suki and Green Chillie dips.  Even though this is a veritable buffet of sauces, remember it is a matter of courtesy to take what you can finish and refill later if you still needed more!

M. H. Tang and his wife, Evon, of Ho & Ho Steamboat
At Kitamura, the fresh ingredients are stored in chillers for diners to fetch their own choices in the baskets provided.  Here, ingredients are hygienically packed under cling wrap and priced according to the colour of the plates.  All you have to do is to stack up the empty plates for the waitress to tally up the bill at the end of your meal.  In this self-serving way, you can help yourself to as little or as much as you want to eat!

Another popular steamboat place is Ho & Ho Steamboat Restaurant in Taman Molek.  They charge a set rate for every diner and serve a minimum set for two persons.   You can pick your choice of fresh ingredients from a menu or order a standard set which is served piled up in a common platter, complete with two types of noodles and fresh eggs.  You can top up the set with additional orders of any favourite items and while waiting for the steamboat to boil, you can also savour side dishes like fried dumplings stuffed with minced pork and fried tofo blocks.

Fresh fish balls with pork meat balls [Background]
Opened since Sept 2000, the husband and wife team, M. H. Tang and Evon Low, have kept a loyal clientele coming back for more of this sumptuous soupy meal, served in a comfortable dining ambience. 

Their reputation for a delicious clear fish broth and six types of fresh ingredients shipped in from Pulau Ketam is a definite draw for discerning diners.  Fresh fish balls and interesting fish noodles – made from a blend of rich fish paste – are popular items to cook and savour with the steaming soup.  They also serve a special fried-shallots-in-oil sauce to add to the broth to bring out the best flavours. 

Ho & Ho has a signature blend of house sauce that may be quite a zinger if you are not familiar with spicy flavours.  The uninitiated should start with a tiny sample to acquaint your tastebuds with it and after a few dips, you may be ready for more.  Regulars confess that they often ask for a top-up of this spicy dip and shamelessly finish the second helping to the very last drop!

Facade of Ho & Ho Steamboat Restaurant in Taman Molek

Signature chillie dip [Top] and
fried-shallots-in-oil sauce to add to broth
Steamboat connoisseurs know that cooking and dining from a boiling hot-pot is a leisurely meal that should never be hurried.  So if you wish to have a steamboat meal at these popular restaurants, remember to make reservations or plan to go earlier or at off-peak dining hours to avoid disappointment. 

You will eventually get to your meal but the wait may be long and it’s really no fun to watch others eat while you salivate and your stomach growls…

Ho & Ho Steamboat Restaurant is a non-halal restaurant located at 85 & 87, Jalan Molek 3/10, Taman Molek, Johor Baru.  For dinner reservations, Tel: 019 – 7115572 / 012 – 7603209.

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