New Hidden Hot Pot In A Tent Restaurant In Singapore Has Heart-Shaped Pots & A Cosy, Romantic Ambience
Sigh. The things we'd do for the 'gram! This time, it's travelling to a new cloistered hot pot restaurant in Singapore that's located in the middle of nowhere. Officially opened on 19 December, 中河小镇网红餐厅, which translates as Zhonghe Town Internet-Famous Restaurant, has hot pot tent dining experience and heart-shaped pots similar to that of In The Tent in JB.
Keep reading to check out our review!
It was quite the journey getting to this mysterious hot-pot-in-a-tent restaurant. The company has no website, Facebook, Instagram, or even an English name. All I had was a phone number and an address that led me to a remote port area in the West Coast area.
It's a 7-minute walk from the nearest bus stop and a 10-minute drive from Jurong East and Clementi MRT Stations - the kind of location where you get tired just from looking at the Google maps route.
After an expensive taxi ride, I reached a dull, grey building with no restaurant signage to be found. The security guard emerged and immediately directed us to the elevator, saying "it's at level 2!" Relieved that the restaurant actually exists, we headed upstairs.
Ambience at the hot pot tent restaurant
The elevator brought us right to the restaurant which was formerly a food court. At once, we knew we were in for an authentic Chinese restaurant experience. The indoor area was decorated like a typical traditional restaurant in China, and anyone who has travelled there will recognise that distinct aesthetic.
Greeting us was the friendly lao ban niang restaurant owner who's from China. There were a few patrons, also from China, who were there for the shao kao (BBQ skewers) and not the trendy tents - an indication that the restaurant served comfort food that reminded them of home.
She led us to our reserved seats at the outdoor area and, lo and behold, it was exactly what I was expecting - Insta-worthy goodness.
The alfresco dining area was covered in artificial turf and lined with tents. The height of its aesthetic happens when it's completely dark and the tents are illuminated by fairy lights.
There are nine tents in total: four large ones for groups of 4 or 5 and five smaller tents for groups of 2 or 3. Inside each tent is a cosy floor seating set-up.
It was quite breezy inside even while the hot pot was on as the tent can be unzipped at both sides. It also has an additional window flap that can be opened for more air circulation.
As dark clouds loomed over us, the boss cheerfully explained that the tent dining goes on rain or shine as the material is waterproof. We were skeptical, but a few minutes later when it started drizzling, we were gushing about the comforting vibes that reminded us of when we're in bed and it's raining outside. The tent remained completely dry inside, although we did get wet while zipping out to the bathroom.
She advised against daytime tent dining due to the heat, and also shared that all of the tents were fully booked that night. Apparently, the brand already has a loyal customer base that came to know about this new restaurant through word of mouth.
There's also a Mongolian-style yurt, so make sure you specify which type of tent you prefer in your reservation.
At another section is a row of heart-shaped benches which is for diners who aren't having hot pot and doubled as a waiting area for walk-in customers once the tents were filled.
Menu & prices
This tent hot pot restaurant has an extensive menu beyond just hot pot like barbecue on a skewer ($1 - $3 per stick) and a huge variety of dishes like Stewed Goose with Sauerkraut ($98.80), Fish and Lamb Pot ($58.80) and Beer Duck with Potatoes ($38.80).
For hot pot, there is a good selection of soup and dishes.
Hot pot base (choice of two from $10.80 with free top-ups):
- Spicy beef
- Pork bone
- Beef slices ($8.80)
- Lamb ($8.80)
- Beef tenderloin ($8.80)
- Pork slices ($8.80)
- Black hair belly ($8.80)
- Fish fillet ($8.80)
- Vermicelli noodles ($3.80)
- Tofu ($5.80)
- Vegetable basket ($12.80)
- Mushroom basket ($12.80)
- Baby cuttlefish ($5.80)
There are more seafood options like crab, clams, sea crab, scallop and squid rolls, as well as the popular Nine Grid Set for two (from $58.80) that comes with a choice of nine ingredients.
For drinks, there's a variety of beers ($6.50 - $9 per bottle), and Chinese-style drinks like Sour Plum Soup ($3) and Wanglaoji ($3).
The hot pot came in a heart-shaped pot with another smaller pot inside which holds a different type of soup. It was heated by an induction cooker hidden under the table.
Both the spicy beef and pork bone soup were comforting and flavourful but lacked the full-bodied richness that soup bases at Beauty in a Pot and HaiDiLao have.
Each table comes with a DIY dipping sauce tray ($3 per person) with little containers of soy sauce, beef sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, fragrant oil, chilli oil, spring onion, chopped onion and coriander.
We weren't fans of the Beef Tenderloin ($8.80) as it had a dry, hard-to-chew texture. The Beef Slices and Pork Belly ($8.80 each), however, were tender and fatty.
The meat was of decent quality and the surprising highlight of the meal was the vegetables. The Vegetable Basket ($12.80) came with spinach, Chinese cabbage and yau mak choy which were all fresh, perfectly green and had a delicious sweetness.
Considering the restaurant offers this novel tent hot pot experience, we were expecting overpriced food, but it was actually pretty value for money. The quality and prices are comparable to that of Shi Li Fang Hot Pot and you can expect to spend about $30 to $40 per person.
The restaurant was manned by a group of burly men who were efficient and friendly.
Don't expect HaiDiLao's level of service, though. You won't get automatic offers for soup top-ups and the $3 per person sauce fee doesn't come with free fruit, dessert or water. There were also some tiny hiccups like when they delivered the soup and 9 Grid Set before we placed any orders and missed out on a few items later on.
This tent hot pot restaurant checked many boxes from the cosy, relaxing ambience and Insta-worthy lights to the comforting hot pot, good service and reasonable prices. Still, this'll be a one-time visit for me as ambience isn't my priority and the food wasn't remarkable enough for the effort to travel there. However, if you're looking for a unique dining experience and out-of-Singapore feels, it's worth a first-time try at least!
P.S. the alfresco tent area of the restaurant is pet-friendly!
Reservations are a must as there is no dining time limit and only nine tents, which means you could be waiting for a long time if it's a full house. Parking is free but limited.
[22 Dec update: the restaurant is not taking reservations at the moment and is launching an online reservation system soon. Check back on this article later when we update it with the link!]
Address: 42A Penjuru Rd, Level 2, Singapore 609164
Opening hours: 11am - 11pm daily
While you're here, check out our review of the new SpongeBob-themed cafe at Bugis.
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Text by: GirlStyle SG