Years ago, on one of my first trips to Taiwan, a Taiwanese friend took me to a one-of-a-kind hotpot place I’d never encountered before. I could never forget the scent that filled the restaurant the moment we stepped in. Unlike all the hotpot restaurants I’ve been to in Singapore, this place exuded a heady intoxicating fragrance—the smell reminiscent of a grill house. That was my very first encounter with a traditional Taiwanese stone hotpot.
With the prevalence of mala hotpots locally, never have I thought I would ever encounter this exclusive style of hotpot here in Singapore. That’s probably why when my editor asked if I was interested in covering Feima Taiwan Stone Hotpot, I agreed without hesitation.
Firstly, my love for this comforting communal meal has inextricably woven hotpot into my life’s narrative. More importantly, I was hoping that my trip to Feima TaiwanStone Hotpot would be a gastronomic journey transporting my tastebuds to the Formosa with just a taste of their broth. My fingers were crossed.
Nestled in Crawford Lane, along the stretch housing Tolido’s Expresso Nook and Eat 3 Bowls, Feima Taiwan Stone Hotpot stood out with its unique entrance mimicking a gigantic vending machine. Old-school Taiwanese snacks and beverages line up to grace the glass panel with its presence and beyond the restaurant’s mysterious-looking doorway opens to a bustling eatery with an entire wall plastered with the vibrant night scene of the famous Raohe Street Night Market.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Taiwan.
What I tried
Don’t expect your regular stainless steel yuan yang hotpot here. Instead of just boiling your selected ingredients in the caldron of hot steaming soup, Hotpot (Personal: from S$9.90, Medium: S$18.90, Large: S$21.90) at Feima Taiwan Stone Hotpot starts off with the frying of dried cuttlefish in a smoking stone pot.
Once the aroma is extracted, a medley of vegetables, along with our choice of meat, is sauteed to release its savoury juices before two clear bowls of pork bone broth are poured into the pot. This pre-meal action alone got me salivating; indeed this was the exact same aroma I remembered from my meal in Taiwan. The intense fragrance of the heated shacha sauce is one that I will never forget.
With more than 50 Fresh Ingredients (White Plate: S$3, Orange/Red Plate: S$5, Yellow/Green Plate: S$7, Black Plate: S$9), we were spoilt for choice. However, since my dining companions and I were looking to reminisce our gastronomic journey in Taiwan, we decided to forgo those mundane looking fish and meatballs, but instead focus on the eatery’s Taiwan-imported ingredients—Tempura, Taiwan Sausage, Mentaiko Sausage and Mi Xue Gao.
Indeed, we were not disappointed. Our marvellous timing aside (the key to having your preferred doneness of the ingredients nailed to perfection), the ingredients themselves shone through with their flavours and textures. Little fish roe in the Mentaiko Sausage remained crunchy as they burst in my mouth the moment I bit into them. They were toothsome bites even without a swab of condiment.
But it was the Mi Xue Gao that ultimately won over my heart. Unlike its traditional counterparts, Mi Xue Gao at Feima Taiwan Stone Hotpot does not use pig’s blood. Surprisingly, even without this addition, the “cake” managed to retain that particular old-school flavour that I adored—-a rich nuttiness with subtle porky umami.
Unknowingly I devoured four out of the six Mi Xue Gao leaving my three dining companions fighting for the last two pieces. Oh well, when it comes to meals like hotpot and barbecue, it’s always fastest fingers first.
Since no hotpot is complete without slices of meat and seafood, we decided to order the Meat Lover Tray (S$20) and Seafood Platter (S$23). The taste of mutton can be a little too overpowering for some, and as such, I highly recommend the Pork Collar, Chicken and Beef for the perfect trio on your Meat Lover Tray. Sliced paper-thin, all you need to do is brush your meat through the boiling soup for 10 to 15 seconds and you are ready to feast.
Don’t forget to request for their special condiment to go with your meats. Specially curated by the eatery, the addition of a raw egg yolk adds a layer of creaminess to your meat, a match made in heaven especially with the generous amount of garlic, cilantro, sacha sauce, and sesame oil.
The addition of prawns, clams, and mussels lends the broth with additional brininess which elevated the elegance of the entire hotpot. As the flavours start to merge, it results in a deep, nourishing stock that leans on the sweeter side—a comforting soup that immaculately marked the end of our meal.
I never had extra room in my tummy for staples when it comes to hotpot, but since Feima Taiwan Stone Hotpot offers Braised Pork Rice (S$2.50) on their menu, my natural instinct was to say ‘yes’ to a bowl.
Crowning the top of my fluffy white pearl rice was glistening pork belly that seemed to be welcoming me to savour its glory with open arms. The Braised Pork Rice might seem like a simple and humble staple but this is exactly its appeal.
There was nothing boisterous in the bowl that took the spotlight away from the flavours of the stone hotpot. Instead of standing out on its own, the subtle savouriness of the Braised Pork Rice complemented both the ingredients and broth. Towards the end of my meal, all that was left was an empty bowl, scraped clean without a single grain of rice to show for.
Within those two short hours, I felt as if I had been transported to Taiwan and back. It might be the ambience, it might be the company but my experience at Feima Taiwan Stone Hotpot was one that was filled with intimacy, fun, and bubbling vats overflowing with food and a taste of Formosa.
To all my Taiwan-loving friends, if you are missing the country as much as I do, I urge you to have a meal here at least once to soak in the good food and friendly energy. Trust me, you will thank me.
Expected damage: S$20 – S$40 per pax
The post Feima Taiwan Stone Hotpot, Crawford Lane: A commendable taste of Formosa appeared first on SETHLUI.com.