... Is a time for celebration in Hong Kong. The only way is up from Thursday December 22 as days start to get longer and the nights shorter. In Hong Kong, people celebrate dong jee (冬至) or Winter Solstice which is an incredibly important time for families to group together, eat a feast and look forward to the warmer and brighter 'yang' days.
The feast in question tends to be a da bino - a delicious hotpot. I'd not had a hotpot before I moved to Hong Kong and it took me a while to get my head around it. I'd describe it as like a very watery, but super fun and delicious BBQ.
You can add anything you can find in a wet market - we tend to go for choi sum, dau miel (sweet small leaves - just blanch them for a minute), water dumplings, soft tofu, udon, sweetcorn; and for protein - enoki mushrooms and thin beef slices.
It's super important to get your sauces right too. Grab one jar of chilli oil and one of satay sauce and dollop a little of each in a small bowl before you add the boiled ingredients. Makes for a really tasty soup. Speaking of soup, you can either buy a packet for the hotpot base, or make your own. I tend to go with ginger, garlic, spring onions, chicken stock. Once you add the other ingredients above they ad to the flavour and make a really nice rich soup broth.
The side benefit of a hotpot at this time of year, when Hong Kong is the same temperature as a polar bear's fridge, is a hotpot will really warm you up. The contents are hot, the fire to cook it all warms the room. It's a toasty warm win!
It's not all fun and games!
Hotpots are super fun and a really nice way to enjoy a meal with your extended family, but they do come with their downsides.
Buying and then washing all the vegetables is a massive faff; setting everything up seems to use every single dish you have in your home, meaning washing up takes up most of the evening, when you could be sat playing games with your family.
If you still want the hotpot experience without all the hassle, I implore you to head to Hidden Heat, Tung Chung's literal and figurative hottest new restaurant! Hidden Heat, or 'HH' is very modern take on a traditional hotpot, and even has a super fancy device that rises up so you don't have to dig about looking for the good bits at the bottom of the pan. Be sure to mention IslanderHK when booking.
They have a great selection of spicy and non-spicy soup bases, but also tasty dishes that you don't have to cook yourself at the table including classics like Kung Pao chicken cooked in warming Szechuan chillies, rich and aromatic stews, steamed fish dishes... There is something for everyone. You can check out the non-hotpot menu here. I went with a vegetarian friend and she wasn't disappointed with the selection available.
The staff here are lovely and fluent in both English and Chinese so no need for Google Translate, but more importantly, they take the hassle out of a joyous family get together. No prep, no dishes - delicious!
Hidden Heat is really close to the MTR so easy for arriving family members to find, and they have a beautiful outside area for the kids to run around after they've finished their veggies and unlimited soy milk drinks.
Book early and go early!
Most employers give you a few hours off in the afternoon of the Winter Solstice so don't waste it fighting for food in the wet market. Enjoy it at Hidden Heat. It gets booked up quickly, so make sure to reserve your family a spot by calling +852 2836 3888 or via Whatsapp +852 5563 5928.
Be sure to mention IslanderHK when booking.
This post is sponsored by Hidden Heat restaurant.
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