The hot pot scene in Edmonton has been bubbling up over the past few years with several restaurants opening up in succession but things seem to have finally settled down. The main players, 97 Hot Pot and Asian Express Hot Pot, are located in Chinatown with Chili Hot Pot just off of Whyte Ave. Okay, Asian Express has a second location south side if you want to get all technical on me. Rounding things out, there’s Kings Noodle & Hot Pot, Bangkok Restaurant and BoBo Hot Pot Restaurant.
I’m not the biggest fan of hot pot (AYCE once every 6-9 months is more than enough for me) but a sweet Groupon deal ($70.00 for 4 people) couldn’t be passed up. After holding onto the coupon for a couple of months, we finally made our way over to Urban Shabu to use it with the deadline fast approaching. Always seems to be the case when you buy one, eh?
Three bros and I arrived at 7:00pm on a Thursday evening. It was L’s first time ever having hot pot so we eased him into the process. The inside is spacious and what I really liked about Urban Shabu (besides their hilariously random signage) was their ventilation system. Yes, you will smell like hot pot before/during/after your meal but that’s a given. Regular price is $27.95/person for all you can eat dinner, $2.00 extra for specialty soup broths (chicken broth is free) and $3.00 if you want half/half. They have a solid lunch deal ($11.95), which I believe is similar to 97’s deal. There’s even a parking lot in the back aka. two ways to get into the restaurant.
We each ordered a different broth – I went with the HK style satay. Not too satay-ish but it was good enough. I wasn’t in a super spicy mood so it worked for me. The sauce station is pretty standard while the ordering system is guess, wait and see, which always seems to be the case when you go for hot pot. Just order more the next round to compensate!
Good stuff: lamb, beef, enoki mushrooms, bok choy, fried bean curd (try it if you’ve never had it before. It soaks up all the flavours in your broth.), lamb mash, quail eggs and noodles.
Meh stuff: beef brisket (weird odd looking pieces, not what we were expecting), green onion and spring rolls (dry, luke warm. Skip out on the fried crap).
Japanese style sesame balls, mango tapioca, soft tofu, vanilla ice cream and osmanthus jelly cake
We were stuffed silly but obviously, we ordered dessert. There’s five different items to choose from and we decided to try them all. Ridiculous. Mango tapioca was probably the best but the osmanthus jelly and soft tofu were close runner ups. The ice cream was pretty standard although I found it a bit too artificial tasting while the Japanese balls were luke warm and glutinous.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. There’s a ton of items to choose from so you might as well make the most of it! For the most part, everything was pretty good except for the fried items that we ordered. Price wise, it’s pretty standard AYCE fare. My advice: go during lunch. Your wallet and belly will both be happy campers.
9700 – 105 Avenue