A modern take on traditional Taiwanese hotpot
Taiwan's night market snacks, bubble tea and steamed soup dumplings are sources of pride for foodies, but another food category wins the praises of local diners as well: hotpot.
Ao House Hotpot is a Taiwanese-style hotpot chain known for high-quality meat and vegetables in a variety of soup bases.
The company recently launched a sister brand – Ao Lab Hotpot – inside Westgate Mall, retaining the chain's signature soup bases and food items but introducing an elevated dining experience.
This enhanced experience translates to a more modern-looking interior, cool graphics, fun presentations and a wider selection of cuisine.
The hotpot chain is famous for its authentic spicy broth packed with duck blood curd and tofu, cooked in the broth for many hours. Blood curd is commonly made from duck blood, and the solidified blood resembles the silky texture of tofu. It's definitely the signature ingredient for Taiwanese-style hotpot, as the blood curd can absorb the broth's strong flavors, which many palates find irresistible.
At Ao Lab, the spicy hotpot with duck blood and tofu is still a must try, but the kitchen has created five varieties of soup bases all competing for attention. Diners can sample multiple broths in the yuanyang pot, a hotpot split in two for different broths.
In addition to spicy broth, the soy milk mushroom pot is another Ao Lab signature – a creamy and savory broth with ingredients such as soy milk, coconut cream, home-made tofu and duck blood bean curd. This is a good choice for those who favor flavorful but less spicy broth. A bowl of broth is a great way to start a meal before tossing in meat and seafood.
The meat selection at Ao Lab runs from premium Australian beef to well-selected lamb and pork at wallet-friendly prices.
The condiment bar sits in the center of the restaurant, because making the perfect sauce is critical for the hot pot experience. Ao Lab shares its secret tips for making a special sauce for each soup base.
Service here is noteworthy. Servers frequently change the plates, top up soup and fill in free-flow duck blood and tofu.
Chinese people love hotpot because the act of eating it requires diners to communicate, interact and enjoy one another's company.
Opening hours: 10am-10pm
Address: 5/F, Westgate Mall, 1038 Nanjing Rd W.
Average price: 140 yuan