One rainy Tuesday evening in October, when it was absolutely chucking it down, I dragged my butt all the way to Kembangan (from NUS, which is like in Clementi) to meet my friends for dinner.
Why the heck did you guys feel the need to go all the way to the East, you may ask. Isn’t there good food nearer to Central, you wonder. Yes, there’s plenty of good food in the Orchard/Somerset/Dhoby area, and we eat there a lot. However, we went all the way to Kembangan for one thing – CHEESY HOTPOT.
Tucked away in the landed properties near Kembangan MRT station, Hook On Steamboat blends in with the zhichar restaurant next door and the coffee shops around it. But it’s home to the most decadent hotpot experience you’ll ever have – one filled with cheese. I didn’t take a lot of photos because I was too busy eating, but it was SO GOOD.
I know it sounds horrifyingly rich, but think of it as more of a cheese fondue than anything else. You’re not actually cooking anything in the cheese – you cook the meat/fish/ insert food item of your choice on the grill around the hotpot, and once that’s done, dip it in the melted, gooey goodness for a cheesy twist. And when you’ve gotten a little sickly from all the cheese, feel free to request for them to change your hotpot to more traditional soup bases, like tom yum or chicken and corn.
Hook On Steamboat deserves credit for being incredibly innovative and value-for-money. Their hotpots are $22.90++ per person ($19.90 per person from Tue – Thu). They also have a fancier option which costs more, featuring items like abalone, but let’s be real – you probably don’t want to dip that in cheese.
For an additional $4.90, you can get free flow canned drinks and ice-cream. They’ve also got a beer promo of 8 pints for about $30+ bucks – we didn’t drink the night we went there, but I assure you, we were tempted.
Upon arrival, we got a table and one of the staff explained to us how the entire process worked. He was super patient and really clear, so there wasn’t any confusion about what we could order. We went with their regular Deluxe option, and being greedy, ordered just about one of everything on the menu. All their hotpot options are free flow, so you can have as many plates of chicken and fish and meatballs as your stomach can handle.
All their food is crazy fresh, and whether you dip it in cheese or not, it tastes amazing. I definitely recommend the bulgogi chicken, sambal squid, and scallops, because those were especially fantastic. We liked the sambal squid so much, we ordered a mountain of it.
They also have an impressive selection of fishballs, meatballs, sausages, and even some weird sea urchin balls that looked positively radioactive. I didn’t eat one, but my friend Ashley reports that it was good.
We were a table of five, so we had two hotpots to share between us. We had three rounds of cheese in total, two rounds of chicken and corn soup, and one round of tom yum to end off the meal. The food did arrive in bits and pieces, but that’s fine, because it meant we never hit a point where there was a dearth of food at the table.
In terms of ice-cream options, they have the usual chocolate and vanilla, but I went for “gummy”, which was a vibrant blue and pink concoction with GUMMY SWEETS INSIDE. I didn’t take a photo of it, but I assure you, it was excellent.
I also want to give a special mention to their staff – they were efficient and helpful, and also really patient with us. We dropped one pair of tongs and two pairs of chopsticks, and kept asking for ice and accidentally burnt out one pot of soup, but they always replaced it for us. They were also really helpful, checking in on us to see if there was anything we needed.
With great food, excellent service, and amazing prices, Hook On Steamboat is worth the Journey to the East for. My only quibble is that their indoor seating is pretty smoky, and could do with better ventilation – do sit outside if you can. We sat indoors to prevent our cheese hotpot from becoming cheese soup in the storm, but while it did get a little smoky it wasn’t too bad.
Looking for a mookata-esque experience with a bit of a twist? You know where to go.
Hook On Steamboat
Address: 389 Changi Road, Singapore 419838
Opening Hours: 5pm – 12am
Tel: 6844 0389