Sugared & Spiced

pâtissière in paris, now shanghai

[Shanghai] Qimin Organic Hotpot Market 齊民市集

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Qimin Organic Hotpot Market 齊民市集

Add: 4/F, Reel Mall, 1601 Nanjing Xi Lu / 静安区南京西路1601号芮欧百货4楼
Tel: 6258 8777
Hours: 11am-2pm, 5-9pm
Website: www.qi-min.com
Price: [lunch set] 88+ RMB [dinner] 200-300 RMB
Visited: Feb 2015

Please note that this is an invited tasting.

I love hotpots, but I’m not exactly a fan of steamy restaurants and messy table tops, with people sticking their chopsticks into one communal pot filled with dubious meats and veggies and unidentifiable blahs swimming in a foamy, murky broth. This is why I’ve always been a fan of Qimin Organic Hotpot. The combination fresh organic ingredients, individual pots, pleasant interior, and attentive service means that hotpot can be a pleasant dining experience as well. They have recently opened a new location in Reel Mall, and I was more than happy to come try out this venue.

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The new space is designed to create a marketplace-like atmosphere, with booths of vegetables, meats, seafoods etc. surrounding a central dining area. The vibe is brought even more alive by Taiwanese underground rock music, which is appropriately kept on a pleasant volume. Two most attention-grabbing features are the clothes hanging from the ceiling, as typically seen in alleyways of Shanghai (but much neater…) and bamboo steamers as table partitions, which, by the way, actually do emit steam when opened…though they do not actually contain food ;).

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The condiments station (8 RMB/person) is also neatly presented, and organic ingredients are used where possible. You can follow the “Qimin recommended” recipe to make a bowl of dipping sauce, though it turned out to be a bit too rich for me and I ended up making my own mix on the side.

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Starting with some appetizers. Tea boiled devil egg 魔鬼五香茶葉蛋 (18 RMB) is a variation on the deviled egg by using tea boiled eggs – I loved the tea fragrance in the mix, though the whole thing was a little too salty for me. Taiwanese red vinasse pork 台灣紅曲燒肉 (28 RMB), on the other hand, was really delicious.

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台灣酥炸大魷魚 Taiwanese fried calamari (28 RMB), tender, with a crispy skin, highly recommended.

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金橘檸檬凍飲 kumquat lemon iced drink (18 RMB), a perfectly refreshing choice to go with hotpots.

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And on with the food…what a lovely, lovely-looking table top!

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Let’s break it down and see what we got. First, self harvest fresh basswood mushrooms 鮮活椴木香菇 (48 RMB) are presented as you see below, still growing on the wood – it doesn’t get fresher than this. You can “harvest” the mushrooms yourself, or ask the staff to help.

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Angus beef ribs 安格斯牛小排 (138 RMB).

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Organic pork belly 有機黑豬五花 (48 RMB).

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冰天極地雪蟹 arctic snow crab (338 RMB). I’m not always a fan of crabs in hotpots because they can be so complicated to eat, but this delicious thing is totally worth the trouble. Qimin also makes the process easier by chopping the crab at the right places so it’s not all that difficult to extract the meat either.

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Seafood nougat 招牌海鮮牛軋糖 (38 RMB) and mushroom meat balls 香菇貢丸 (15 RMB).

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As is typical at hotpot restaurants, you can choose the type of broth for your individual pot. I went with a rather flavorful roasted tomato beef bone broth 爐烤有機番茄牛骨湯 (32 RMB), but there are also lighter choices like the organic vegetable chicken broth 有機時蔬雞湯 (18 RMB).

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To our own surprise, the three of us actually managed to finish most of the food we ordered. Full-bellied and satisfied, we ended with an organic strawberry shaved ice 有機草莓刨冰三重奏 (38 RMB/small, 58 RMB/large), served with a scoop of artisanal strawberry ice-cream.

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What I like about having hotpot at Qimin is that, while I always leave full-bellied and feeling like I don’t need to eat for another three days, it’s never an uncomfortable feeling. As the ingredients are top quality and not at all heavy, I usually end up being hungry again a few hours later…which is so much better than feeling like a sloth for the rest of the day, which typically happens to me after greasy hotpots. A good place to come back to, especially during this unbearable winter cold.

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Written by sugarednspiced

February 5th, 2015 at 3:40 am