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  • Writer's pictureKimberley Kells

Review of The Dolar Shop, Haymarket

For those of you who are uninitiated, Hot Pot (aka Steamboat) is a communal, interactive dish where a large pot of simmering soup is placed on a burner in the middle of the table and diners cook their own food by dipping items into the soup like a Chinese version of fondue. The typical things you have are thinly sliced meats, seafood, vegetables, wontons and noodles. I was lucky enough to be invited to a media dinner hosted by Hungry Diner at Macanese Hot Pot global chain, The Dolar Shop in Haymarket and let me tell you, it was absolutely delicious and left me wanting more!

What a spread! A feast shared between the table

For those of you who have had hot pot before, The Dolar Shop isn't your average joe, it's more towards a premium, fine dining style, only serving the best quality ingredients like Japanese Wagyu, fresh local seafood, and a killer wine list with a list of Grange vintages as long as my arm! With a dish like hot pot, the cooking is so quick, literally for some items, the work of seconds, so it is really important to have good quality stuff. It can taste horrible when its served with cheap and nasty meat, and this is certainly NOT the case here. The tables are fitted with little induction burners at each setting so you can have your own individual hot pot which is fitted with their iconic ceramic Dolar Shop collar (so you don't burn your precious little fingers) and filled the the broth of your choice. There are 6 to choose from and I go with the Szechuan Hot and Spicy (extra hot) and their signature Dolar Shop Spare Rib broth. The spicy broth is not actually very spicy to me so I add in more fresh chilli #thaiscanhandletheheat. Next, we head to the sauce bar where there are a plethora of different sauces and add ins so you can make your dipping sauce just the way you like it! Mine obviously comes out tasting the best, and it is a dark and mysterious mixture of different soy sauces, oils, chilli, fried garlic and eshallots, topping it off with fresh spring onions and coriander. Now I know there are some coriander haters out there in the world, and to you I say: stop fighting it and just embrace the coriander! #corianderlife But the beauty of the DIY sauce bar and actually the entire concept of The Dolar Shop hot pot it that you can customise your entire meal to make it exactly as you like it. From the broth selection, the sauce station, the meat and seafood selection to the cooking of the meat. You get to choose your own adventure and lord it over your fellow diners when yours comes out tasting the best. I know from personal experience.

Can't decide? Go halves. My sauce really was the best!
Big Eye Ocean Perch. Well they're not wrong

Then our gorgeous waiter (who looks after this big boisterous group very well) starts getting down to business and bringing out the real heavy hitters. First we have a Big Eye Ocean Perch which is presented beautifully all sliced up and ready to go, with dry ice cascading over its flesh like morning mist on a snow capped mountain. Then the most amazing platters of wagyu: different grades, different cuts, different textures. And as if that wasn't enough, platters of pork belly, lamb, tofu, shrimp balls, wontons, noodles, fresh vegetable basket and a mushroom platter! This meal is the definition of indulgence, and I AM TOTALLY HERE FOR IT! The presentation on everything is so appetizing and pretty, its almost too good to eat! Almost. I tuck in, dipping the most marbled piece of wagyu into my broth for about 10 seconds, then dredging through my (self proclaimed) award winning sauce and into the gob.

Heaven, the work of mere seconds

These were fished of the tank and skewered live. The poor buggers were still moving while I took this shot! Talk about fresh
That marbling...
“Wow. The fat running through that piece of beef allows that thing to fall apart with just a couple of chews and leaves the inside of my mouth with a coating of unctuous goodness that lingers long after swallowing. This is goooooood sh!t.

The Szechuan broth is divine: complex with what must have been hours of work to develop the flavours with the Szechuan peppercorns driving the wonderful numbing and tingling sensation that makes you feel alive. Topped off with some extra chili, this is perfection for me. My other half, the Spare Rib broth tastes a little bland by comparison, and although its nice, to me, it's got nothing on it's spicier, sexier room mate.

With each slice of new meat, I am treated to a new texture and flavour. Big highlights are clearly the top grade wagyu and the shrimp balls which are minced and flavoured shrimp dropped directly into my broth, cooking to form a delightful little meatball. The prawns perplex me. Not realising the tasty little bugger still has his shell on (how do I know it's a 'he? why am I assigning a persona to a prawn I'm about to eat? I'm strange sometimes...), I drop him into my hot broth and wait for him to cook. When I fish him out, I have a poke with my chopstick and realise I'm going to have to peel him and its not going to happen with a pair of chopsticks! Typical me, I grab him and having just come out of hot broth, I burn my damn fingers! After cooling, I peel his pesky shell off but now my fingers are not only burnt, they're messy and sticky with broth. I wish they came peeled. Or I wish I had thought to ask for them to be peeled.

Other than that little bug-bear, it is an amazing dinner! Not only is the food and service wonderful, but I feel quite privileged to be welcomed into the food blogging scene and be considered a peer. I've not been at this very long so this is a little win for me and although I was nervous as hell to be walking into a dinner not knowing anyone (it felt like a blind date! Is it weird that I made sure my underwear matched?!) I had a great time! If you haven't tried hot pot before, I urge you to give it a go. It is such a fun way to have a meal with a group, or on a date night and why not start with the best?

The Dolar Shop 1909 Dining Precinct, Level 3 Market City, 9-13 Hay St, Haymarket

*I dined here as a guest of The Dolar Shop and Hungry Diner, but all opinions remain my own.

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