Turns out, I actually really liked 無老鍋. The service was O - M - G good. I am not kidding. Every time the server comes to deliver our orders, he would make a 90 degree bow before he leaves. The seats were secluded and very private. Duck's blood and tofu are refillable and you can even take fresh soup base to go if you wish (so you can enjoy the leftovers the next day!!!) Again, there was the 90-minutes limit but since we went on a weekday and nobody was waiting for our table, we didn't feel rushed! However, the server was very fast in putting your food into the pot so you will have to tell him to slow down if you want to take a picture (i.e. the Japanese ice-cream tofu)...
|Our server told us to let it boil in the soup and soaked up the juices|
It will be ready in about 10 minutes
Perhaps I am so used to the rude and merciless servers in Hong Kong, the courteous service here at 無老鍋 made me borderline uncomfortable. (I almost stood up and return the bow to our server every time he bows to us...) In fact, I haven't been to a restaurant in Taiwan where there is poor service yet. Maybe people here actually respect their job? I really don't know...
|The condiments bar|
They actually advise you against dipping the food in the condiments
as they said the hotpots were well seasoned
I tend to agree...
...and ended up eating most of the food as is.
Anyways, back to the food. As the name suggests, Elixir Health Pot (無老鍋) stresses on a holistic approach to hotpot (an oxymoron if you ask me) and one of their soup bases even has collagen in it... (seriously!) We ordered the Twin Flavors Broth (鴛鴦鍋) - Japanese ice cream tofu pot (日本冰淇淋豆腐鍋) + Wu Lao spicy hotpot (無老長生辣香鍋).
However, the spicy broth was just not spicy enough for us. It got better after our server brought additional spices to add to the soup base (while apologizing and bowing all along) but my friend complained it was still not spicy enough for her... I found the bland broth quite a common problem with the "spicy" hotpots in all of the hotpot restaurants I have tried in Taiwan. Perhaps our definition of "spicy" is different? Sichuan hotpots in Hong Kong are quite spicy... and don't even start me on the real deal in Chongqing. (The last time I had spicy hotpot in Sichuan, I remember I was snorting and sweating... and I wasn't only in Chengdu...)
The rest of the ingredients were fine (meaning, nothing really stood out). Again, I really liked their "bread" tofu (麵包豆腐) and duck's blood and if I had known they were refillable, I probably would have ordered a few things less. As long as you don't come here expecting a spicy hotpot, I think it would be an enjoyable experience. (oh, and come on a weekday if you don't want to be rushed!)
|The Signature Wu Lao Pork |
we didn't find the pork very special...
it was mostly tasteless
the small pot was covered in a ton of ice...
|Mashed Scallops |
|Combination Yuba Rolls|
I don't remember
|the duck's blood here is thinly sliced|
since it was boiled in the spicy pot for a while
I found it tasty and smooth
|and it would be a shame to skip vegetables when you are in Taiwan|
the cabbage here is so sweet!!!
|a smoothie to cleanse our palates|
I know I will come back next time I come to Taipei again :) You might find it odd that I would return even when the food itself was just average... well, I liked the space and the food is not bad, just not outstanding... But that's how I find hotpots are in general... as long as the ingredients are fresh and the broth is good, there really isn't much skills to it. Yet, it's a great way to spend time with your friends :P
No. 143 Section 3, Civic Blvd, Zhongshan District, Taipei
Tel: +886 02-2731-7928
Hours: 11:00 AM ~ 02:00 AM