Fri, Feb 15, 2008 - Page 15 News List

[RESTAURANT REVIEW] Wanyouquan Lamb Hotpot (萬有全涮羊肉 Guting Branch)

By Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER

It's what you do with the meat once it arrives that matters at Wanyouquan.

Winter weather calls for bubbling pots of meat and vegetables, and Taipei has innumerable establishments offering variations on this theme, ranging from the elegance of Japanese-inspired shabu-shabu to the sultry fieriness of chili hot pot. There are good reasons to go upmarket, from authenticity to refinements in the broth to the quality of the ingredients.

Wanyouquan does not seek to be a cheap hot-pot option, and it claims to offer an excellent combination of the above-mentioned qualities. It has already seen considerable success with three establishments in Taipei's east and north, and its new location on Roosevelt Road has had little difficulty drawing crowds.

The big traditional brass pots with their high steaming spouts lend the latest Wanyouquan considerable atmosphere. It is decorated like a traditional northern Chinese restaurant, with plenty of dark wood furnishings and fretwork.

The pot itself (NT$70 per head) contains few ingredients but has the all-important broth. This is made from more than 10 kinds of vegetable and four kinds of fruit and is delicious enough to drink on its own account.

There is the usual selection of thinly sliced pork, beef and mutton, ranging in price from pork shoulder (NT$250) to top-quality Angus beef slices (NT$480). The lamb (NT$320), the establishment's signature dish, is so good it might even be acceptable to those not partial to the meat. These are not shavings off a frozen block, but nicely sliced premium cuts presented to show off their marbling.

Apart from sliced meat, numerous other ingredients can be added to the pot, from handmade noodles (NT$60) and various kinds of tofu (NT$60) to sausages, leaf vegetables and seafood.

Wanyouquan Lamb Hotpot (萬有全涮羊肉 Guting Branch)

Address: 9, Roosevelt Rd Sec 2, Taipei City


Telephone: (02) 2358-7318, (02) 2358-7418

Open: 11:30am to 2pm; 5pm to 11pm

Average meal: NT$600 per person

Details: English menu available; credit cards accepted

The sauce in which the meat and other goodies are to be dipped is also an important feature of the restaurant. Just as the fine slices of meat can be reduced to cardboard by neglectful patrons, slipshod execution of the dipping sauce - which guests must make themselves from a range of 10 ingredients - can equally lead to catastrophe. Wanyouquan requires diners to be engaged and willing to read the sometimes prolix explanations of what they must do to get the most out of their meal. Staff members are generally efficient and helpful, but often too busy to take diners through the process step by step.

A small selection of beers and spirits is available, as well as fresh fruit juice. 

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