Hot Pot Master is a famous Chinese hot pot franchise from Chengdu. They specialize in self-cook skewers in a hot pot. Customers can go to the cooler to grab the exact amount of skewers they want to consume. As one of the restaurants leading this new trend, Hot Pot Master’s popularity has attracted a lot of business owners opening restaurants with similar names (in Chinese) hoping to attract customers. Earlier this year, we have seen a hot pot restaurant in Richmond to do exactly that, but the food quality did not live up to many foodie’s expectations. The authentic Hot Pot Master has expanded to Toronto last year, and last week Vancouver is finally getting our own Hot Pot Master franchise location in Vancouver East-side.
Strength: Freedom to eat what you want at whatever amount you grab
Weakness: Can get pretty expensive without you knowing
Other Skewers Hot Pot
- Happy Tree House (1.5 Stars)
- Yuan’s Chuan Chuan Xiang Hot Pot (2.5 Stars)
- Big Tree Food Palace (2 Stars)
- Miss Fu in Chengdu (4.5 Stars)
Hot Pot Master Kingsway view
Hot Pot Master is located in the same building as one of Vancouver’s affordable housing “Kingsway Continental” with its own separate entrance. The majority of its storefront faces Kingsway but the entrance is facing Battison Street. Before Hot Pot Master’s arrival, this location used to house a pretty badly run hot pot restaurant. When I came here, the signage of the previous hot pot restaurant was still present.
Ticket Dispenser and waiting area
Hot Pot Master is one of the few restaurants in Vancouver with a ticket dispenser queuing system, one of the other one being Boiling Point which is also a hot pot restaurant.
High-School Themed Interior
The interior space uses Chinese high school as the theme. You can find brick walls in conjunction with bright colors being used. The far end of the table is 3 large wall-hung televisions playing music videos from early 2000 when the music industry in Asia was thriving. They also use the chalkboard as decorations. All these set the mood for the good old times.
What’s on the chalkboard
If you look closely at what’s on the chalkboard. Parts of it with hot pot and slogans as decorations. One of the chalkboard section was explaining the rules of their promotion. If you finished more than 100 skewers, and able to break 100 bamboo skewers in a bundle (60 for girls), then you get a jelly dessert ($2.99 value) for free.
Essentials at each table
The table and chairs have bright colors. There is a central range in the middle of the table. If your table is larger, you may have 2. The tablewares are simple and basic, but there is a bin at the bottom of the table to protect your jacket from hot pot smell.
Sauce and condiment station
Each guest receives a small container of pre-seasoned sesame oil at the table ($3.49 with sauce bar access). This is the SiChuan’s way of eating spicy hot pot. The large quantity of oil is believed to protect your stomach from the spiciness. There is also an adequate condiment station close to where you grab your food. Notice that sometimes the staff can get soy sauce and vinegar mixed up. This is the first time I’ve encountered something like this, but Hot Pot Master is still pretty new, so the staff may not have been fully trained yet.
Self-serve display cooler
There are 8 sections of this large cooler to display a large variety of raw food to be cooked. The majority of them are skewers at $0.59 each. Towards the end of the cooler, we can find the ones displayed in different colored containers. These colors represent different cost. I like how the charge is simplified, and the individual skewers allow you to try everything at a small quantity. Hot Pot Master also thoughtfully indicated the ideal cooking time for most of the items.
Above-average food quality
The raw skewer dish has pretty good quality especially the ones with a small piece of beef wrapping another ingredient. The internal ingredients provide different flavours that’s up to personal preference, but the meat wrapping them is juicy and tender even when I accidentally overcooked some of them. The $0.59 per skewer is really worth it. If you want to get into the numbers, I have been to some restaurants selling a $10 meat dish containing less than 10 pieces of meat.
Cooked food needs some work
We ordered the deep-fried pork strips ($8.99) that can be enjoyed dry, or soaked in the hot pot. It is served fresh out of the deep-fryer. There’s more flour than the meat, and some parts are all fat. It becomes chewy after cooked in the hot pot.
We’ve also ordered the rolled bean curd ($4.99 green plate). After I placed it down at my table, I realized they are not crispy which is an indication that they’re not freshly fried. As expected, the texture is a little stale after cooked in the hot pot.
Split pot and Beef/Lamb platter
I like how the split pot soup base’s cost is not universal. The cost varies depends on the different soup bases chosen. Our spicy premium beef oil cost $10.99, and the mushroom soup cost $7.99. This is a communal Hot Pot. It’s not as care-free as individual ones but the majority of the food is on skewers so it’s less troubling for the hygene-aware guests.
The beef and lamb platter is $19.99 per order, and it is displayed with a donut-shaped wood platter like LiuYiShou Hot Pot. There are 10 pieces of beef and lamb each, making it $1 per piece. This dish takes up a lot of space on the table.
Cold Jelly Dessert
The cold jelly dessert costs $2.99 per order. It is drizzled with topping and soaked in brown sugar. It has a balanced flavour as dessert to complete the spicy hot pot.
604 Food Critic Assessment
Hot Pot Master comes from a long line of tradition from Sichuan. This Kingsway location is the first authentic location in Vancouver. I enjoyed the flavour and quality of food, as well as the easily controlled cost. One can just go to the cooler display to grab the skewers, and there is no minimum number you have to grab. This first location is not in the best neighborhood, but I look forward to seeing them thrive.
The menu is designed to look like a multiple-choice exam.
How to get in touch
- Phone: (604) 423-3646
- Address: 5737 Battison St, Vancouver
- Hours: 4:30 PM – 11:30 PM, Friday to Sunday 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM and 4:30 PM – 11:30 PM