Yue Long Men hotpot 悦龍門火锅 is situated quite literally at the Long Men (dragon’s gate) of Chinatown station (exit A). Each diner gets a personal hotpot from a selection of 6 flavours. With the exception of Curry ($3) and Tom Yum ($3) that are made from premixes, all of the soup bases are produced from scratch.
We sampled the 2 bestsellers: The Signature Sour Fish Broth ($8) is a clear flavourful fish soup with a sourness that naturally makes your mouth water and whets your appetite. The Mala Broth ($7) at level 3, despite its menacing appearance, is surprisingly mild. I sipped cautiously at first, then liberally to find no lingering heat and definitely no numbness. Presumably, this is to keep from overpowering the natural flavours of the items to be cooked. Apparently, if you need this hotter, it can easily be arranged. You only need ask.
While you make up your mind for the spread, I suggest first sending in your order for the Szechuan Style Fried Meat ($8). Trust me. You will appreciate having something bite-sized and tasty to pop while you wait for the hotpot to come to a boil and for your items to get cooked. Think popcorn chicken but pork with hints of Szechuan spices but not chilli-hot.
You have to pay for condiments here. But before you protest, the Condiment Bar ($4) includes not just a free-flow of condiments but also cut fruit and ice-cream.
Everything on the ocean platter ($26) is sashimi-grade. If you like, you can pop it in the pot like everything else. Same goes for the Alaskan King Crab Leg ($48) that’s also ready to eat. I prefer warming it up in the pot for half a minute. There are no crab scissors on site but the shells are soft if you would like to literally go at it tooth and nail, you can. Alternatively, you can poke at it with a chopstick. If you have the right end, the flesh slides out whole. Quite lovely with a dab of soy sauce and vinegar that brings out the natural crab flavours.
Moving on to the meats, there is the premium Black Pork ($16, pictured below) (collar cut is offered) and the regular Pork Belly ($10) for comparison. Both very fresh and good. I actually prefer the cheaper, fatter cut. Pro tip: get the pot boiling and separate the slices and cook them for exactly 1 minute. I like a dip made from mixing soy sauce, sesame paste, chilli paste and spring onions.
If you can’t quite decide on your choice of red meat, grab the Beef and Lamb Platter ($18, below). The only proper way to eat this is briefly scalded. In and out 3 seconds. Perhaps with a dab of hoisin sauce.
The real stars here are the Assorted Meat Balls ($16, below). They are handmade in-house, lightly seasoned, balanced and not over-dense, chockfull of MSG and unnaturally bouncy like the factory-produced stuff. I particularly like the prawn balls. They retain a little crunch from fresh prawns that are finely chopped, instead of ground beyond recognition.
It’s my first time having Pig’s Brain ($8, below) ever! You don’t see it very much in Singapore. Our host informs us that it’s one of the top favourites among Chinese nationals, along with Pig’s throat ($16), if you’re into that sort of thing. Now I know porcine grey matter tastes remarkably like egg tofu! I don’t hate it.
If you must have carbs, consider ordering the Yang Zhou Fried Rice ($10). It’s decent. Each short grain pearl is distinct and slick, but not overladen with oil. The ingredients are well-proportioned, evenly tossed and just lightly browned. There’s no wok hei though. The ice-cream selection is nothing to write home about. You know how ice-cream is partially air? This panda lolly is mostly air.
All in all, it’s an ok experience. Items are fairly portioned and fresh. The place is kept very cool, comfortable and nicely lit. I think prices become very competitive for an establishment in this centralised location. This may be a good spot for your next gathering, especially if you have to manage taste differences. You get to each order what you individually like with your personal hotpot but still manage to seat (up to 8) people together at the same round table for a communal experience.
Yue Long Men 悦龍門火锅
75 Pagoda Street Singapore 059234
tel: +65 6909 0611
11.30am – 2am
Price / value: 6/10
Decor / ambience: 6/10
You may be interested in…
–Mister Wu, Pickering Street: Modern Chinese Teahouse Serving Cocktails, La Mian, and Hotpot
–Beauty in the Pot, One Km: Newest and Biggest Outlet in Pink
–Mak Hong Kee, Keong Saik: Hong Kong Michelin-Starred Chef Opens a Cantonese Restaurant
–Chengdu Restaurant, Amoy St: Drama Plating for Authentic Sichuan Food
Written by Pierre Goh.