Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Taiwanese hot pot in Hawaii: Sweet Home Cafe

Sweet Home Cafe

During the weekend of the crazy rainstorm at the beginning of December, when it was cold and gray outside, I was craving some Chinese hot pot (similar to Japanese shabu-shabu). Basically you pick your broth, they bring it out to you and pour it into the hot plate on your table. Then you pick your choice of raw meat and then go up to the fridge cases to pick out plates of raw veggies, fish cake, tofu and noodles. After the soup comes to a boil, you can just start dumping in meat, noodles, veggies etc, and pull them out as they get cooked.

One of the highlights at SHC are the dipping sauces. It was always my favorite part of hot pot in China, but SHC has taken it to a new level. I was used to maybe 8-10 different bowls of sauce ingredients (vinegar, hot sauce, sha cha, soy sauce, green onions etc) but SHC had 20 different items to choose from, including ginger sauce (like what you get on cold ginger chicken at a Chinese restaurant), garlic butter sauce (fusion!), and a white miso that our server recommended. You can choose to mix up a bunch in one bowl together (like I did) or enjoy them individually.

A final highlight of SHC: the complimentary shave ice (Taiwanese style) at the end. Taiwanese shave ice includes a large pile of shaved ice, topped with brown sugar syrup and condensed milk, and then with tapioca pearls, chocolate pudding, almond tofu, tapioca and these long orange chewy worms. YUM. Sugar overload!

Our meal for 3 (including leftovers) came out to about $35.

A couple of things to know: no reservations (write your name down on the clipboard outside when you arrive), BYOB, you must finish eating in 90 minutes.

Our broth "spicy"
Plates of oyster mushrooms, soft tofu, tofu knots, and gailan. Sliced beef in the front
My dipping sauce on the left, Taiwanese fish cake on the right (with corn inside)
Grand finale: bowl of shave ice
2334 S King St
947-3707 (no reservations)

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