Hotpot at home using ingredients from Don Don Donki

We’ve been looking at various hotpot appliances for some time and finally bought a Mistral induction cooker that came with a free pot (MIHC1800). The petit 35cm diameter footprint fit nicely on our dining table and was just the right size for the two of us.

To official put it into service, we headed down to Don Don Donki at Orchard Central and picked up some fresh meats and vegetables for a simple home hotpot. It was crowded, as usual, but not too crowded for us to change our plans.

The selection of fresh food at Donki was quite wide and included Japanese produce from different prefectures. We picked up a $5 bundle offer for shimeji mushrooms and dou miao, as well as a $3.90 bag of Japanese mustard spinach (komatsuna), more than sufficient to meet our grass and fibre quota.

The meat section was fully stocked and given the wide variety on offer, it was a challenge to decide what we wanted. Eventually we settled on some Australia Angus shabu shabu beef and Hokkaido sukiyaki pork. Both trays were priced at $10 each.

Why not actual Japanese wagyu, you ask? Because, expensive. And also, we haven’t tried Donki meats before and wanted to start simple before upgrading to the good stuff.

When we got home, we plugged in the Mistral, dumped a pre-packed bag of mala soup into the pot, put the lid on and waited for it to boil. The power/temperature settings weren’t intuitive and required me to fish out the user guide to figure things out.

I eventually set it to C4 (120°C) while mentally complaining about why they didn’t just use a temperature display instead of the cryptic C1 to C9 scale? Also, why have two different ways of setting the induction cooker, by temperature and wattage (P1 to P9). And again, for wattage, why not just display the actual power? I think one simple scale of, say, 1 (min) to 10 (max) would have sufficed. Oh well.

User interface gripes aside, the cooker was simple to use. When it’s in operation, you can hear a fan going, presumably to dissipate heat of the induction plate as the temperature rises. It took a while for the soup to boil and I’d probably crank it up to max power the next time it gets used.

Once the stock started boiling, we happily shabu shabu’ed away. The vegetables were really good, especially the sweet and crunchy dou miao. We also opened a box of deep-fried tofu skin that The Wife had bought online previously and dunked it into the soup to act as a flavour sponge.

She also fished out a bottle of yuzu goma to act as the dipping sauce for the meats. I think it’s normally used as a salad dressing, but the tartness and creaminess worked really well as a sauce.

The meats were average, and the pork was better than the beef. I suppose it’s the usual case of you-get-what-you-pay-for and I assume the higher-priced fatty wagyu would have been much tastier. Maybe next time.

Overall, we had a fun and enjoyable dinner. We’ll definitely do it again, but the next time the hotpot gets used, it will probably be for some Korean food like budae jjigae, tteokbokki or dakgalbi.

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