Panda Hot Pot

Prepare to be transported to the flavours of Sichuan, China, as you reach the welcoming, grand entrance of Panda Hot Pot (蜀大侠老火锅). From the Wuxia-inspired wood carvings adorning each booth, the golden-laced decor dotting the walls, the elegantly placed Chinese pluck zither (古箏), and of course, the impressive dragon hanging majestically from the ceiling – Panda Hot Pot has set a new bar of hot pot dining in Melbourne, or perhaps even Australia. Coupled with the attentive service and the exclusive Chinese performances scheduled in for some evenings, Panda Hot Pot, just as those who request “EXTRA EXTRA SPICY” in their hot pot broth, truly adds another level of “EXTRA” to hot pot.

If the atmosphere of Sichuan hot pot hasn’t already been established, then the lulling pentatonic tunes of Chinese music and the small pond behind the Titanic-esque grand staircase filled with peacefully swimming Koi (錦鯉魚) rounds it out.

The good fat: As most hot pot places, there is the option of a half-half split soup base option, but Panda Hot Pot even does A TRIPLE SPLIT (for especially indecisive people like us). To suit our sadly weak spice palate, we opted for the extra mild House Signature Sichuan Spicy Soup base (the PERFECT level of spice for people who can still tolerate some – heads up, it’s still quite spicy so we used the other broths for most of the cooking). The pork bone broth and tomato broth were delicious in their own right – featuring a massive pork bone with marrow, and a contrastingly warm yet acidic tomato base, respectively.

The DIY sauce is nearby, and for hot pot newbies they even have recommended combinations which is super helpful because I usually just end up mixing together every flavour I like so it just ends up being a mash of PB, satay, sesame sauce and seafood sauce…

The ordering is very convenient and the waiters are more than happy to help out – being the adventurous girls that we are and keen to try all the options that you don’t typically buy in the local grocery store, we opted for:

  • Signature Beef Tripe ($16.8): very chewy interesting texture! Perfect for the Sichuan spicy broth!
  • Prawn Mash ($14.8): 110% RECOMMEND, such delicate balls of VERY fresh prawn (my favourite thing in hot pot!)
  • Prime Snowflake Beef Slices ($23.8): melt-in-the-mouth marbling!
  • Seafood Platter ($38.8): fresh abalone, THE JUICIEST SCALLOPS (my favourite), prawns, mussels and oysters
  • Fungus Platter ($16.8): sooo many delicious mushroom options like enoki, oyster, shiitake (definitely recommend for mushroom lovers!)
  • Tong Ho Crown Daisy ($6.8)
  • Peasprouts ($6.8)
  • Fried Bean Curd ($6.8)

Of course, the food options are very extensive – classic meat and seafood balls, lamb slices, hand-pulled noodles just to name a few, to some more exotic options like kidney and duck blood.

For dessert, we HAD to opt for the Sichuan specialties of Brown Sugar Iced Pudding and Fried Sticky Rice Cake with Brown Sugar. The iced pudding was very refreshing and the herbal jelly was so smooth! The sticky rice cake was delicious as we drenched it in the brown sugar syrup underneath, cutting through the gelatinous texture underneath and tasting surprisingly good even after we ate it a while later when it was colder.

All of this, was of course, washed down with the very necessary jug of fresh watermelon juice that I believe, is ESSENTIAL to any hot pot experience (or plum juice!)

The bad fat: Pretty faultless dining experience – I could suggest detailing what is included in the seafood platter on the menu but the waiters are more than happy to explain.

FAT-O-METER: 5/5

PS: It’s been 3 years since I’ve been back to China and Panda Hot Pot created such an authentic and reminiscent vibe. Given the grandeur of the place, it could work as a casual catch up location but just as easily a special celebration or place for large groups.

CHECK OUT THE WEBSITE OF PANDA HOT POT HERE

2wofatgirls would like to thank Panda Hot Pot 蜀大侠老火锅, Carlton for the invitation to dine – these opinions are strictly unbiased and were influenced in no way by the collaboration.

CURIOUS FOR MORE? READ ABOUT MY PREVIOUS MELBOURNE HOT POT EXPERIENCE HERE (DAINTY SICHUAN)

Panda Hot Pot  蜀大侠老火锅 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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