Tag Archives: Hot Pot

Tastee Steam Kitchen, Oakland

Tastee Steam Kitchen
329 11th Street
Oakland, CA 94607

On most workdays I travel to Oakland Chinatown for lunch since it’s a fairly short walk from my office and I can get lunch at a reasonably affordable prices. When I’m in Chinatown, I usually make it to the corner of 11th and Webster where I eat lunch at either Baby Cafe or Shooting Star Cafe for some classic, filling Hong Kong style cafe food. Over the last few months, though, I noticed signs for a new restaurant called Tastee Steam Kitchen.

Since I’m curious about any new Chinese restaurant in Oakland Chinatown, I took a look and was fascinated by a restaurant dedicated to “steam grilling”, which I had never heard before (and seems like a thing in Hong Kong?). I was intrigued, especially since it was opened by the same owners of Shooting Star Cafe, but the price seemed like a pricey hot pot so I decided to wait.

But then came its addition to Michael Bauer’s top 100 restaurants of the Bay Area and I felt compelled to finally go. My aunt was thinking about getting together for dinner too and I decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to try a new place out.

We went on a Thursday night and got seated right away. We carefully browsed the menu which was very similar to an ala carte hot pot place like Little Sheep. There was a list of congee bases you could choose from (the steam and the drippings from the cooked food combine with the congee base to create a congee at the end of the meal). Then there was a list of sauces you could choose for 25 cents each, in addition to the free soy sauce, vinegar, and hot chile oil they have on the table. Then there is a selection of meats, seafood, vegetables, and dim sum items you select to steam at your table. After looking at the menu, we ordered the following:

Marble Beef (before steaming) at Tastee Steam Kitchen

Marble Beef (before steaming) at Tastee Steam Kitchen

  • Marble Beef (肥牛) – Our first plate was marble beef that was steamed to just perfectly done. While thinly sliced, the fat in the beef help give the meat a nice, juicy flavor that matched well with the spicy soy sauce mixture I had. At $5, it was super cheap for the portion as well.
  • Egg Tofu with Ground Pork in XO Sauce (XO滑肉豆腐) – I think we were expecting more of a steam egg/meatloaf like dish but these pork meatloaf bits and tofu were nice, if less than exciting. The meat was juicy, though I was hoping for a little more spiciness and saltiness. It was hard to eat it together with the medium soft tofu. It was alright, if not exciting.
Snow Pea Leaves (after steaming) at Tastee Steam Kitchen

Snow Pea Leaves (after steaming) at Tastee Steam Kitchen

  • Snow Pea Leaves 大豆苗 – I love pea leaves and when these were steaming, it was so great to smell the fragrant, nutty aroma. They were steamed perfectly, and the milder flavor helped absorb the sauces well. I do wish, however, that this came in between the meat dishes.
  • Lotus Root 蓮藕 – There was a LOT of lotus root so if you love lotus root, this is exceptionally good value. The lotus root probably could have used more steam to make it softer, but the crunch was still nice and made for a good vessel for the sauces.
  • Custard Bun 流沙包 – Finally, we ended the meal with a bun filled with runny custard. Like the other items, it was steamed and timed exactly right. The buns were oozing with delicious runny custard that was a perfect end to the meal.
Cordyceps Flower and Chicken Congee at the end

Cordyceps Flower and Chicken Congee at the end

Afterward we had the cordyceps flower and chicken congee. While the rice and chicken cooked beautifully with all that steam and water, the congee was a bit lacking in flavor. However, that’s likely due to the fact that we only had one dish that had major protein juice drippings to help flavor the congee. It probably would have been more flavorful if we got a seafood dish instead of a vegetable dish.

All in all, I liked Tastee Steam Kitchen though I do wish they alternated between cooking vegetables and meat instead of cooking meat at the beginning then vegetables. I’ll definitely have to go again and order more meat and seafood to see how it flavors the congee in the end. There is certainly a lot of potential to this new type of cooking that’s as healthy as hot pot with the ability to have everything perfectly cooked on a “grill”. I’ll just have to go a little bit more before I can confidently say it’s one of the best restuarants in the Bay.

 

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Boiling Point, Richmond (BC)

Boiling Point
#130-4800 No. 3 Road
Richmond, BC V6X 3A6

Since we weren’t able to make a reservation at Landmark Hot Pot, we decided instead to go search for some in RIchmond. Both Cattle Hot Pot and Chubby Lamb Hot Pot were recommended to us, but ended up being a further walk than we wanted to make a reservation after our lunch at Kumare. We ended up at Boiling Point, which didn’t take reservations but assured us that it was relatively easy to get a seat at around 7PM.

After site seeing on Granville Island, we headed down to Richmond to eat at Boiling Point a little after 7PM. We got a table easily and looked over the menu. Unlike most hot pot places, Boiling Point does individual hot pots with ingredients already in the soup. It might be because of Boiling Point’s roots as a business that started in Southern California, but regardless it was a new experience even for myself. We ended up both getting the beef hot soup and added fermented tofu and spinach noodles.

Beef Hot Soup

Beef Hot Soup

First, the broth was very nice. I ordered it medium which was spicy but not too much, albeit my friend’s mild was more that he would have liked. It was flavorful without overpowering the ingredients in the pot. The beef was also good, as it was tender and well seasoned. I also liked the firm pieces of tofu was well which soaked up a lot of the flavors of the post. I’m generally not a big corn on the cob person, but this corn was better than usual, probably due to soaking up the flavors and moisture of the broth. The spinach noodles were decent and al dente, though I’m not sure if they really added much in the end. I loved the mung bean noodles which, like the tofu, also soaked up the broth and ingredients well. Finally there is the fermented tofu, which I thought was not too stinky and definitely enjoyable. I can’t say my friend agreed as the flavors were a bit pungent and added with the spicy, did not really agree with his palate.

As for the service, the servers were very nice and quick to act when you needed something. However, they didn’t really act out of any necessity, like refilling water cups, asking if I wanted another bowl of rice, etc. They even missed out on the chance to sell us dessert (which normally is a turn off to me). I likely would have tried the red bean snow cube they had, but we ended up taking off and filling our stomachs with bubble tea down the street instead.

An interesting twist on Chinese hot pot, for sure. However I think I prefer the cook it yourself in a communal pot would have been better. Hopefully this didn’t totally ruin hot pot for my friend because I feel like Cattle, Landmark, or Chubby Lamb would have been way better if we had the chance.

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