Wednesday, September 04, 2019

A HOT AND STEAMY AFFAIR AT XIAO LONG KAN


Chinese hot pot is all the rage now. From major shopping malls to suburbia, provincial Chinese hot pot in all shapes and guides have stealthily conquered the local food scene. Now, Chengdu’s famed Xiao Long Kan Hot Pot restaurant has also jumped onto the bandwagon with the opening of its maiden outlet in Bukit Bintang.

Established in 2014, Xiao Long Kan (XLK) holds true to its guiding principles of providing ‘flavours from the soul, quality with integrity’. This Chengdu hot pot restaurant chain commands long queues of customers who seek to experience its signature hot pot with a wide selection of meat, fresh vegetables, handmade meatballs, innards and offal in assorted broths prepared using an age-old traditional recipe.
 

Sited within the bustling retail strip of Bukit Bintang, XLK occupies a multiple-storey block with a cosy waiting area on the ground floor. Decorated with ornate Chinese doors, a majestic dragon wall sculpture and a pair of faux antique chairs, it leads into a charmingly decorated dining space that won’t look out of place in a Chinese martial arts movie.

More seating and private rooms are available upstairs but be prepared to burn some calories as you ascend stairs. Rustic wood-trimmed semi private dining pavilions inspired by the Qing Dynasty, dramatic wall murals and modern Chinese lanterns form a theatrical, immersive backdrop that ‘transports’ you to ancient Chengdu.


In our quest to sample the best of XLK’s signature broths, we opted for the 3-flavour Hot Pot comprising Mala(Spicy)/Mushroom/Tomato (RM48) soup bases. While waiting for the hot pot to come to a boil, we amused ourselves by whipping up the simple dip: open up the mini can of oil provided and mix it up with some oyster sauce, vinegar, chopped garlic and fresh coriander.

Notable appetisers to stave off hunger pangs during the wait include Fried Crispy Meat (RM16) – yummylicious tender, lightly battered fried pork strips with a dusting of fiery hot chilli flakes on the side and sausage-shape rolls of Brown Sugar Rice Cakes (RM13) that are toasty crisp on the outside and delightfully chewy inside, with muted sweetness.

Once the hot pot is bubbling away, we had a field day dunking in the assorted items into the different soup bases. Spice fiends looking for an adrenalin rush will revel in the trademark tongue-numbing, sensorial-stimulating broth. Our dining party aren’t made of such stern stuff so our preference geared towards the savoury tomato and more delicate mushroom stocks. The overall taste improved progressively as more ingredients made their way into the hot pot.
 

Among the distinctive specialities worth savouring are the hand-made Rose Meat Balls (RM26), the robustly marinated XLK Spicy Chilli Beef (RM48), Shrimp Paste (RM38), Australia A5 Beef (RM90) and Ling Long Rolls (RM20) – crispy deep-fried beancurd sheet rolls.
 

Offal and innards are highly sought-after among XLK clientele especially the paper-thin Sliced Kidney (RM16), cubes of Pork Blood (RM10) and a rarity in hot pot menu: Duck Intestines (RM28).

Crowd-pleasing choices such as Pork Neck (RM20), Luncheon Meat (RM17) and Quail Eggs (RM12) are also available alongside premium servings of White Prawns (RM52) and Bluefin Leatherjacket (RM22).



Textural interest and extra nutrients can be gleaned from plates of Shiitake (RM8), Enoki (RM8) and seasonal greens like Spinach (RM8).
 
We found the XLK service team admirably on the ball despite the restaurant’s early days. Soup and drink refills, extra orders, clearing of soiled and empty tableware, etc are dealt with swiftly. A block-long queue already formed outside the door on the first day so it looks likely Xiao Long Kan will go full steam ahead in repeating its hot streak of success in Kuala Lumpur.

At this moment, Xiao Long Kan Hot Pot Restaurant only accept walk-in customers. Address: Lot 03, Block D, 179 Fahrenheit88, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. Open daily 11am to 2am.

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