November 19, 2021: Too much MSG in the food at this restaurant! Even though I had a for-the-most-part great experience dining at Da Hu Hotpot, the fact that I was kept tossing around in bed for a few minutes before I fell asleep that night after eating at the restaurant, this is the very first thing I have to say about their food. (Being so exhausted these days, I always pass out IMMEDIATELY upon hitting the sack. The fact that I couldn’t sleep speaks volumes about how much MSG the soup base contained. [Excessive MSG in food causes me to have insomnia.] And how I’m actually already awake already at 6 a.m. writing this blog post [haven’t popped awake at 6 a.m. in a long time] is another testament to the use of excessive MSG in their food.)
Anyway, on to the blog post: I am all about the all-you-can-eat restaurants these days and after racking my brain to think about what other AYCE restaurant I could visit (other than the ones we’ve been to recently XD), my mom suggested hot pot. I’m so glad that she suggested this as it had been forever since we had been to a hot pot restaurant. 😀
I looked up hot pot restaurants online and came across Da Hu Hotpot, a relatively new hot pot Chongqing style restaurant located at the Times Square plaza (second floor) at Leslie and Highway 7 in Richmond Hill. Their prices seemed decent (but wish they laid out their menu offerings on one scrollable webpage instead of placing each hot pot food item category separately), so I called to make a reservation.
When we arrived at the restaurant (elevator and escalators available), I was impressed with how bright and clean the place was. It was newly renovated and spacious. The staff at the front desk took a look at our vaccine certificates and I provided my info in the contact tracing sheet before leading us to a table. Our reservation was at 5 p.m. so the place was practically empty except for two other tables further into the restaurant. The server asked if we had been there before, and we said no, it was our first time. He explained that he would take our orders for the soup base but that all of the rest of the hot pot items were available to order via our smartphone by scanning the QR code.
Most of the soup base selections in their menu are priced at $5.99 for the small pot but goes up to $8.99. The larger pots are priced at $10.99 and up. They also have a split pot selection. I chose the Pork Bone Broth while my mom chose the Corn and Pork Rib soup base — small pots, one pot each person.
While waiting for the soup base small pots to arrive, I browsed the QR code-scanned menu to see what was available to order. I loved how convenient and easy it was to order any of the items from my smartphone! (But it also makes me wonder what happens if a customer arrives and does not have a smartphone? Does the restaurant provide the customer with a paper menu to order from?)
It wasn’t until our soup base pots finally arrived and we started eating that we flagged down a server to ask about the sauces. She informed us that there was a condiment bar and cold appetizers and desserts available in the main hallway, buffet-style. The first server who attended our table should have informed us of that. We could have used the time spent sitting at the table waiting for the soup base to assemble our condiments from the sauce station to save time. Oh, well.
The condiment station was very impressive. All the sauces and oils were organized neatly with labels. There was soy sauce, sesame oil, spicy oil, “sa sha” sauce, peanut oil, raw eggs, salt, green onions, garlic (super popular that it was nearly gone by the end of the night), fermented bean curd, and so much more! Everything looked so fresh and clean. There were also an assortment of cold appetizers and two desserts available. I didn’t take a photo as there were a lot of people gathering sauces when I was there and I didn’t feel comfortable taking photos with everybody around.
Overall, I truly enjoyed the dine-in hot pot experience at Da Hu Hotpot. I loved how quickly the hot pot items arrived to our table. I would choose the hot pot item from my smartphone, add it to the cart, submit it, and within a minute or so, the item was served to our table. It was incredibly efficient and not a single item was missed at all. The servers were truly attentive and removed empty plates from our table constantly. They also happily refilled our pots with more soup when we were running low. The service was impeccable (save for the server who should have told us about the condiment/appetizer bar in the beginning).
All of the raw food items were incredibly fresh and well-portioned. The raw meat (beef, New Zealand lamb, pork belly, and sliced pork belly) arrived in large portions. I really enjoyed the pork belly and sliced pork belly — so tender! All of the raw meats were thinly sliced and bright red in colour. The other items usually arrived in four pieces on white sturdy stackable plates. The green leafy vegetables arrived in baskets or white cylinder jars. Other favourites included the imitation crab meat sticks, pig blood, black fungus.
You can adjust the level/temperature of the tabletop cooking using the knobs built right into your table. It was easy to use and hassle-free.
There is a two-hour limit eating time and we surpassed it. The staff actually had to rush us out at the two-hour mark since they had someone waiting for our table. 😂
Luckily, I was able to snag one of the desserts before we hurriedly left. It was a light sweet soup with goji berries, rice, and mini mochi balls. It was great to finish the meal with something sweet.
Walking out of the restaurant, I reflected on how great the tastes and flavours were and already decided I wanted to come back for a future visit. On a future visit, I would plan my time better by immediately ordering the soup base before sitting down so that it would maximize our time and we make the most out of the two-hour dine-in time.
However, because of how strong the MSG affected me, I would also opt to add in hot boiling water to my pot instead of more soup to dilute the pot. Then again, now that I’ve experienced the food and how strong their MSG is and how it caused me to have terrible insomnia, I’m not so sure I will return again yet. 😆
Nevertheless, if you aren’t sensitive to the after-effects of consuming MSG and want a good high quality hot pot experience, Da Hu Hotpot would be worth checking out. Make sure you make a reservation as they are very busy (all the tables were full on this Friday evening when we dined in).
(Their website mentions a VIP card that gives you 10% off, but I could not find any information about the VIP card?)