The hotpot scene in Singapore is getting more steamy, with new restaurants popping up like the constant wave of new ramen shops.
Indeed, despite the sweltering heat and humid weather, Singaporeans' love for steamboat is fuelling the one-pot-wonder of ingredients cooked in broth inspired by various cuisines such as Thai, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.
In the past six months, at least six new brands have set up shop here. Existing steamboat outlets are also continuing to expand.
From new-to-Singapore franchises to sweet Japanese shabu shabu, see 16 top hotpot restaurants to visit in Singapore.
Restaurants put their spin on steamboat with local flavours such as laksa and bak kut teh, or with Chinese herbs. Instead of the usual pork-based soups, some have broths made with fish, such as garoupa.
Salmon Fish Village
What: This fishing village-themed eatery has custom-made hotpots shaped like boats. They are set over charcoal and diners can dunk ingredients into soup or grill them.
The key ingredient is freshly sliced Norwegian salmon. The other star is the hearty soup made from salmon heads, bones and chicken, simmered for at least four hours over a charcoal fire. This is the first steamboat venture by Mr Sham Hei, owner of the Shen Xi Lao Huo Tang herbal soup chain here.
Price: The Salmon steamboat set ($40) has sliced Norwegian salmon, vegetables and mushroom. Other salmon dishes include salmon fish head with herb stew ($18 or $32) and salmon yusheng ($10 or $20).
Where: Liang Seah Place, 1 Liang Seah Street, 01-12/13/14, open: 11.30am to 2pm, 5 to 10pm (call before going as it closes occasionally on Mondays)
Info: Call 6837-0111 or go to www.facebook.com/ShenXiSalmon
What: The laksa hotpot comes in four variations: beef, chicken, seafood and vegetarian. Ingredients include vegetables and tau pok or soybean puffs, as well as a choice of thick rice noodles, rice vermicelli or yellow noodles.
Where: Three outlets at Bugis+, 201 Victoria Street, 04-04; nex, 23 Serangoon Central, B1-08; and 382 East Coast Road. The fourth outlet opens at Jem early next month, opening hours vary
Crystal Jade Steamboat Restaurant
What: Slated to open by end August, Chinese restaurant chain Crystal Jade will launch its new steamboat restaurant that serves a la carte steamboat items as well as cooked dishes.
Where: Zhongshan Mall at Balestier Road
What: At its Tampines 1 outlet, there are new Singapore-style broths such as salted vegetable with duck and fish head soup into which diners can add a shot of cognac. It also has a Hotpot for High Tea at Tampines 1 during weekdays from 2 to 5pm.
Price: $9.80++ (Hotpot for High Tea), selected hotpot items at $3 each. Its usual sets start at $14.80++ (lunch set for one) and $58++ (dinner set for two)
Where: Two outlets at VivoCity, 1 Harbourfront Walk, 01-53; and Tampines 1, 10 Tampines Central 1, 03-16, open: noon to 3pm and 6 to 11pm (Mondays to Fridays), noon to 11pm (Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays) for VivoCity outlet; 11am to 10pm daily for Tampines 1 outlet
Info: Call 6273-3536 (VivoCity) or 6532-3536 (Tampines 1)
Street 50 Restaurant & Bar
What: Besides the international cuisine at Street 50 Restaurant & Bar, diners can now feast on hotpot with premium seafood and meat platters.
The current promotion includes a Asahi Super Dry Mini Can Bucket with 10 cans of the Japanese beer. Choose between chicken broth brewed for five hours or tom yam broth. The hotpots with dragon patterns add chinoiserie chic.
Price: $50++ for two
Where: Bay Hotel Singapore, 50 Telok Blangah Road, open: noon to 2.30pm, 6 to 10.30pm
Info: Call 6818-6681
In Japanese hotpots, thinly sliced meats and vegetables are cooked in a soy-based soup. There are also miso, pork or chicken broths. It is common to cook the meats in the soup before dipping them into raw, beaten egg.
Danro's Kiritanpo rice sticks and hotpot (both above) and the bijin nabe from Tsukada Nojo. -- PHOTO: DANRODanro's Kiritanpo rice sticks and hotpot and the bijin nabe (above) from Tsukada Nojo.
Danro Japanese Hot Pot Buffet By MOF
What: Ministry of Food's first Japanese hotpot buffet eatery has seven soup bases, each representing a prefecture in Japan, such as the chicken and milk broth from the Nara region.
The signature item is Kiritanpo ($1 each) from the Akita prefecture. Freshly cooked Japanese rice is moulded onto sticks to form "rice popsicles". They are toasted for a crisp outer layer and can be dipped into the soup.
Price: $17.90++ (weekday lunch), $23.90++ (dinner from Mondays to Thursdays and weekend lunch), $25.90++ (dinner from Fridays to Sundays) for adults; $9.90++ for children three to nine years old
Where: nex, 23 Serangoon Central, 02-04/06, open: 11.30am to 3.30pm (lunch daily), 5.30 to 10pm (dinner from Sundays to Thursdays), 5 to 10.30pm (dinner on Fridays and Saturdays)
Info: Call 6634-4608
What: This chain has a wide seafood spread, along with a sushi counter. Seven soup bases are available, including tomato and tonkotsu or pork. Special bases are introduced every two months. Currently, diners can order the yuzu salt beauty hotpot, a broth with collagen.
Price: $16.99++ (weekday lunch), $19.99++ (weekend lunch), $24.99++ (weekday dinner) and $29.99++ (weekend dinner) for adults; $9.99++ lunch or dinner for children five to nine years old. Add $1.99++ for free flow drinks and soft serve ice cream.
Where: Two outlets at Orchard Central, 08-09/10/11, and Causeway Point, 1 Woodlands Square, 05-14/15, open: 11.30am to 3pm, 6 to 10.30pm (weekdays) and 11.30am to 10.30pm (weekends)
Info: Call 6884-6760 (Orchard Central) or 6462-1557 (Causeway Point)
What: To open in July, this eatery will have organic vegetables, seafood from local fisheries and ingredients such as wagyu. Prices to be confirmed.
Where: PasarBella@The Grandstand, 200 Turf Club Road, 02-K16 to K19
Wa Shabu Shabu
What: Another shabu shabu restaurant that features a small vegetable counter with mushrooms and tofu. Soup bases include miso, soy milk and sukiyaki. It also has a Wagyu beef buffet at $18.80 daily.
Price: $17.80 (weekday lunch, additional $2.50 for weekend lunch), $19.80 (weekday dinner, additional $2.50 for weekend dinner)
Where: The Star Vista, 1 Vista Exchange Green, 01-44, open: 11.30am to 10pm (Sundays to Thursdays), 11.30am to 11pm (Fridays and Saturdays)
Info: Call 6268-9093
What: This outlet specialises in bijin nabe, or "beauty pot" in Japanese. A collagen-filled, tofu-like pudding forms the base of the dish. Once heated, the pudding melts and diners dunk ingredients such as chicken and yellow zucchini into the pot.
Price: $25 a person for the bijin nabe set (minimum two people)
Where: Atrium@Orchard, 60B Orchard Road, open: 11.30am to 4pm, 5 to 10pm daily
Info: Call 6336-5003
Expect tongue-numbing Sichuan ma la soup with dried and fresh chillies, and Sichuan peppercorns.
Hai Di Lao
What: Get your ma la fix at the Sichuan steamboat chain that includes free manicure services and a children's play corner.
Soup bases include Sichuan spicy hotpot, tomato soup and mushroom soup.
The menu includes handmade shrimp balls (shrimp paste piped from a bag), beef tripe as well as thinly sliced beef and lamb. Book at least a week in advance.
Price: From $14 for the soup base. Budget at least $30 a head for dinner
Where: Clarke Quay, 3D River Valley Road, 02-04, open: 10.30 to 3am daily
Info: Call 6337-8626 or 6337-8627
Xian De Lai
What: While its ingredients are similar to those from other outlets, this hotpot chain serves noodles made of chicken, pork, beef or prawn paste piped into the soup.
Soup bases include the signature Sichuan soup, tom yam and bak kut teh, which are served in special handcrafted Chinese hotpots. It also serves Chong Qing grilled fish ($34.90++), which is blanketed with chillies and other spices and cooked on a shallow platter.
Price: $14.90++ (steamboat set meal), $28.90++ (steamboat buffet)
Where: Three outlets at 18 Liang Seah Street; 20 Cheong Chin Nam Road; and nex, 23 Serangoon Central, B1-05/06, opening hours vary
Info: Call 6336-7505 (Liang Seah), 6468-3774 (Cheong Chin Nam) or 6634-4630 (nex)
The aromatic pork or tom yam broths for Thai steamboats are given extra zing with Thai sweet basil, galangal and chillies. Do not miss the spicy herb-based dips too. The other Thai-style steamboat diners are hooked onto is mookata - a dome-shaped grill with a soup trough that is placed over charcoal.
What: This popular Thai steamboat chain opens next month. Look out for its wide variety of suki (steamboat) ingredients and signature Thai suki sauce. Other highlights include its MK Roast Duck, and desserts such as coconut milk ice cream with glutinous rice.
Price: Between $25 and $35
Where: 313@Somerset basement food hall
Spicy Thai Thai Cafe
What: If you are not comfortable sweating over dinner in an alleyway at the original Spicy Thai Thai eatery in Jalan Besar, head to its new outlet in Aljunied.
The food is just as good and it features jim jum (Thai hotpot) and mookata sets.
Jim jum is a small claypot filled with aromatic soup cooked over a charcoal fire. The sets include a variety of seafood, meats and vegetables.
The menu also features various Thai dishes to complement the hotpots.
Price: $35 a set
Where: Block 115 Aljunied Avenue 2, 01-35, open: 11am to midnight daily
Info: Call 6747-8558
Korean barbecue may be the rage but some eateries offer Korean hotpots, which feature Korean ginseng or kimchi.
Seoul Garden Hotpot
What: The halal Korean barbecue chain's hotpot restaurants offer diners a choice of kimchi jigae or miso stock, with seafood and beef.
Price: From $10.90 for seafood mandu hotpot
Where: Three outlets at Cathay Cineleisure Orchard, 8 Grange Road, B1-08; HarbourFront Centre, 02-03/04; IMM Building, 01-112, open: noon to 10.30pm (Cathay Cineleisure), 11.30am to 10.30pm (HarbourFront Centre and IMM)
What: The menu is not extensive but one can still have a hearty meal of Korean ginseng chicken.
The condiments spice up the food: You can add kimchi to the soup as well as a fiery chilli paste, Korean mustard and vinegar to the basic soy sauce and chive dip.
This is the sister outlet of popular Korean barbecue Super Star K.
Price: $38 for a chicken (good for two persons). Additional ingredients from $6 for ramen.
Where: 98 Tanjong Pagar Road, open: 5.30pm to 2am daily
Info: Call 6223-6785
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on May 26, 2013. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.