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Restaurant Review : Wu Lao Guo Hotpot (無老鍋), Kaohsiung

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Kaohsiung . 2016 . Nov 15

This post is part of our Kaohsiung / Taipei Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here.

I have an unexplained love for any form of hotpots, shabu shabu or steamboats as we call it here in Singapore.  There’s something about cooking your own food in a boiling pot of soup and sharing it with friends and relatives that makes it so appealing to me.

Taiwan is famous for their hotpots, especially the Mala hotpot (馬辣鍋), something that both Tommy and I had yet to experience, but were keen to try at least one hotpot on this vacation to Taiwan.

On our first day at Kaohsiung, as we were struggling with our luggage while looking for the way to the Kindness Hotel Sanduo Shopping District, we chanced upon this posh-looking hotpot restaurant called Wu Lao Guo (無老鍋). It was a name that was unfamiliar to us, but we made a mental note to come back to this place for lunch once we drop off our luggage at the hotel.

On closer look, this looked really like an up-scale restaurant and we were initially hesitant to go in for fear of how much damage it would do to our budget on just the first day of the trip.  But a quick check of the menu puts our fears to rest.

Our senses were attracted by a overwhelmingly strong and unique herbal aroma as we walked into the restaurant.  This, we learned later, was the aroma of their signature soup base for their hotpots.

One aspect of the restaurant that I loved so much was the attention given to make every seat a cosy and relaxing one.  It is set in a very non-Chinese style although this essentially is still a Chinese restaurant.  Complemented with soft lightings and attentive attendances, this place exudes the comfortable ambience of a spa.

And then it cames to ordering our food, which became quite a confusing affair.  Perhaps it was our lack of proficiency in reading the traditional Chinese words in the menu (we grew up learning 简笔字 ok?) , but after struggling for a long while, we gave up and asked the attendant to explain their menu to us.

Wu Lao (無老) had two types of primary soup base - their Bread Tofu Soup (139NT) and Spicy Wulao Soup (139NT) which is about SGD$7 each, charged on a per person basis (not by per pot!).

The third kind of soup base is the Ice-Cream Tofu Soup, which was actually the bread tofu soup and comes with one dumpling-like ‘ice-cream’ per person.  At 159NT, it cost 20NT more than the bread tofu soup, so it works out to about SGD$1 for each ‘ice-cream dumpling’.

If you want a twin broth pot (鴛鴦鍋), then you pay 139NT for the two type of soups and pay an additional 180 NT (SGD$9) per table.  That sounds like a lot to pay for just a soup base, so we decided to save our pockets and ask for just the ice-cream tofu soup.

The signature bread-tofu soup base - which was a concoction of goodies such as Ginseng, red dates, herbs boiled with chicken and pork bones.  As to why it is called a bread tofu soup and why it appears as a creamy white liquid remains as a mystery to me.

The spicy wulao soup.  My limited competency in reading the chinese language tells me that this soup is made up of goji berries, various chills and peppers and white sesame amongst other things. Sounds like this was going to be real spicy, but we didn't have to try this.

After we are done with ordering the soup base, the next thing to do is to order the sliced meat and other food to put into the hotpot.  We learned from the attendant that rice was complimentary (and free-flow, yeah!).  We learned afterwards that the tau-pok and duck blood curd (yucks!) that came with the pot were also free-flow (too bad we didn't like either of these).   With our pot also came bottles of hot soup base for us to replenish along the meal and complimentary hot tea served in a pot that looked like it came from the museum.

The menu for sliced meat.  So many to choose from, which one should I order?  There’s pork, beef, lamb from different parts of the animal, and different types of fish.

There's also seafood….

Meatballs and pastes…

Dumplings….(oh God, I am spoilt for choice)…


And all other kinds of food that you normally put in a hotpot, plus beverages (I am seriously spoilt for choice…).

When it comes to ordering food, keeping a conservative mind is the principle for us.  Because there’s just the two of us, we couldn't possibly order too much.  So we asked the attendant for her recommendations, and there you have it - Escalope of shoulder butt (lean pork) and cherry duck (popular with customers).

Here comes the pork.

Followed by the cherry duck.  These were presented so beautifully, I couldn’t bear to disturb it.

And to top it off, Shiitake mushrooms which I would order in any hotpot restaurant.

Condiments, sauces and rice were available at the back of the restaurant, which anyone could have mistaken for a spa.

Our ‘ice-cream dumplings’, shaped like piles of poo…haha…It was actually made up eggs and milk and has a melt-in-your-mouth feeling, hence the name.

Our ice-cream tofu soup.  The ‘ice-cream dumpling’ was fragile and delicate and we had to be extra careful while scooping through the contents of the pot.  Leave it too short in the pot, it will be undercooked.  Too long?  It will disintegrate.  God, eating shouldn’t that complicated.

Throughout our meal, the attendant came frequently to check on us, offering to top up our soup and our tau-pok and duck blood (please, not anymore).  With soft tones and their immaculately graceful mannerism (think spa), I felt more pampered than ever (in fact, the flight attendants in some reputable airlines couldn't even compare to this).

It suffices to say that our order of 2 plates of sliced meat and a small plate of mushrooms was more than sufficient for both of us, because there were other edible contents in the soup base.  If you actually do eat the tau-pok and duck blood, then there isn't even a need to order so much.

The meal ended off with this dessert of lime sorbet which was on the house and aids in digestion. Indeed a comforting end to a very satisfactory meal!

The total bill came up to 1032 NTD (about SGD$47) which isn't exactly considered budget, but is value for money considering the class and ambience and the quality of food served.

Final Verdict 

Wu Lao Guo (無老鍋) isn't exactly what we had in mind for a hotpot meal, but it has exceeded expectations.  Their version of a herbal broth was not the kind that we are used to, nor was is to our common taste, but we must say that it was unique and of high quality.  Their ambience and service was also top class.   We will definitely recommend this restaurant to any one visiting Kaoshiung.  This restaurant is also available in Taipei. 
Join us next as we visit Shinkuchan Commercial District 新掘江 for some serious shopping!

This post is part of our Kaohsiung / Taipei Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here.

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