Worthwhile Splurges: Hot Pot at Shanghai Tide

8 Nov

This foray into Asian-themed gluttony marks the beginning of a new section of the blog titled “Worthwhile Splurges.” If it wasn’t really obvious to begin with, in these posts I’ll be writing about meals I choose to seek out that break the $10 mark. First up is hot pot. Check out the all you can eat madness after the jump!

Shanghai Tide from the outside. Moderately less chaotic, much less meat.

I turned 21 towards the end of October, and figured that since I hadn’t had a birthday party since I was in elementary school that I should do something big for this booze-filled milestone in my life. I’d been wanting to try hot pot for awhile, especially after I found Shanghai Tide, an all-you-can-eat place in Flushing. However, the cost and the distance scared me away…until now.

$26, an amount of cash that makes my cheap self cry hysterically, gets you unlimited things to dump into your hot pot (meats and veggies galore), dim sum (soup dumplings, noodles, etc.), and drinks (soda or Budweiser). All things considered it’s a steal for what you end up getting but it’s still a pretty hefty chunk of change.

For those who are unfamiliar with what hot pot is, it’s a communal style of dining that’s popular in many Asian countries. Each area seems to have its own take on it, though I’m not entirely sure which this restaurant specializes in considering that Shanghainese hot pot doesn’t exist (at least to my knowledge). You’re presented with large bowls of broth that are put on top of a small burner on your table. Usually you have the option of normal (“non-spicy”) or spicy (“spicy”) broths, though most people go half and half. The normal broth has a slight lemon-y herb taste to it, while the spicy broth is Sichuan style with tons of chili flakes and peppercorns. My wimpy self stuck to the non-spicy broth, though everyone else in my party seemed to love the spicy one more. Oh to not be overly sensitive to spicy foods.

After that’s all taken care of, it’s time to order what things you want to eat. To avoid rattling off all of the many, maaaany options that we had to choose from, I give you the menu:

The hot pot menu. Highlights include "luncheon meat" and MORE MEATS.

Crazy, yes? We ordered at least sixteen different things and somehow polished them all off. And then we ordered some more. The cuts of meat weren’t particularly fatty or “stank”, and the myriad of veggies were a great alternative to all of other unhealthy crap we consumed over this evening of overeating. The dim sum was excellent as well, especially the soup dumplings. I’d never had them before, but now I agree with pretty much everyone else: stuff is addictive. The dumplings were full of a great pork fat-filled broth, and while the skin itself was a bit too thick for my liking, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t eat at least ten or so. No shame, no shame.

The soup dumplings were delicious, with a delicious pork-y broth and skins that were tasty if a bit thick.

To cook your food, you basically throw it into the pot and swish it around until it’s done. Not too hard. You also get the opportunity to mix and match various sauces to dip everything in, which adds a whole other level of fun to the mix. Shanghai Tide had an entire sauce mixing station, which I assume is normal at most hot pot places. There were some of the usual sauces such as oyster and soy available, but there was also straight up MSG. Yikes. We played around with the more normal-sounding sauces and made up some pretty satisfying combinations which I have since forgotten. Oh well. It’ll come to me…eventually…maybe by the end of this post.

After two rounds of numerous (read: too many) platters food and at least three beers or so each, we were done. The ten of us then sat around and groaned for about thirty minutes before making our way back to the 7 train to Brooklyn, Manhattan, and other parts of Queens, respectively. While it certainly is expensive, this kind of extravagance makes for a perfect special occasion meal where a bit of a splurge isn’t as horrible as it might be otherwise. As long as you have adventurous friends and multiple stomachs to hold all the food you’ll end up shoveling into your mouth with reckless abandon, Shanghai Tide offers an insane dining experience like no other. To wrap things up, here’s a before and during/after shot of our table. The foooood, the foooood.

The calm before the storm.

Not even half of what we ate.

NOTE: The lovely Robyn Lee of The Girl Who Ate Everything joined me on this adventure and took much more detailed (and prettier) pictures than I. Once they go up on her Flickr, which I assume they will at some point, I’ll post a link here to give you a better idea of the sheer volume of food we ate. My pics don’t really do it justice. (UPDATE: THEY’RE UP! Check ’em out here.)

Shanghai Tide / 13520 40th Rd (at Prince St), Flushing, NY / Cash Only / (718) 661-0900

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