Hou Mei Wo Steamboat

Special thanks to Hou Mei Wo Steamboat for extending this food review invitation.

Hou Mei Wo Steamboat (好味锅猪骨火锅) is a restaurant chain from Ipoh. There are two restaurants in Penang: Elit Avenue and Lorong Selamat. Tonight's dinner is at the Lorong Selamat outlet.
The dining section of the restaurant is air-conditioned. There are booth-style tables for parties up to 8 people. In addition, the private dining room can accommodate up to 10 people, or more if several people are not seated next to the table.
Built into each table is an infrared heater where steamboat is cooked. As opposed to a gas stove, an infrared heater radiates less heat to ambient air and is considerably safer.
At Hou Mei Wo Steamboat, there are 4 types of steamboat soup to choose from, 3 of which we sampled today. Diners can also opt for two types in a pot (鸳鸯). Soup refills are free of charge.
Special Pork Bone Soup (特制猪骨汤底, RM12.90) is the restaurant's specialty. Stewed with pork bones for more than 8 straight hours, the soup is rich in meaty sweetness beyond measure. In fact, sipping the soup is gratifying on its own. Other ingredients in the soup are taro (芋头), white radish (白萝卜), tofu skin (腐皮) and many more.
Salted Vegetable Soup (咸菜豆腐猪骨汤底, RM15.90) is recommended for customers who want to avoid "heatiness". The soup is made from salted vegetables (榨菜), soft tofu (白豆腐), tomato (番茄) and scallion (葱头).
Those who love a challenge should try the Si Chuan Spicy Soup (四川麻辣汤底, RM27.90). Made from intense spices like Sichuan pepper (花椒), chili pepper (辣椒) and star anise (八角), the soup promises instant numbing of the tongue. Nevertheless, the spiciness level has been toned down compared to authentic Sichuan cuisine.
For raw steamboat ingredients, 4 Slices Platter (四色肉片拼盘, RM23.90) allows diners to enjoy different types of meat especially if they are indecisive. The meats are Australian striploin slices (西冷牛肉片), New Zealand lamb slices (纽西兰羊肉片), pork slices (雪花猪肉片) and chicken slices (新鲜鸡肉片).
A raw egg is provided. According to the staff, the typical way is to dip a slice of meat in raw egg before cooking. Alternatively, one can also cook the meat first, then dip in raw egg before eating. The latter is similar to Japanese sukiyaki (すき焼き).

Homemade Fresh Paste (手打三鲜饺, RM12.90) is enjoyable too. The paste is a combination of minced shrimp and squid. The paste is well seasoned and goes well with any type of soup.
My personal favorite is Hou Mei Pork Paste (好味猪肉浆, RM8.90). Before cooking, mix the pork and raw egg thoroughly. Then, scoop bite-size pieces into the steamboat pot. I love how the succulent pork interacts with any type of soup it is cooked in.
Most meatballs are made at the central kitchen in Ipoh to maintain consistency. Each serving typically comes in 6 pieces. Hou Mei Wo Basil Chicken Ball (好味锅香花草鸡丸, RM6.90) is made from minced chicken mixed with chopped basil leaves. Meanwhile, Hou Mei Wo Turbot Fish Pork Ball (好味锅比目鱼猪肉丸, RM6.90) is a combination of flatfish and pork.
Exploding Meat Balls (爆浆丸, RM8.90) are made from two distinct layers of minced pork. As the inner layer contains more moisture, pressurized steam at center causes the meatballs to rupture when bitten into, spewing delectable juice in the process. The meatballs are slightly spicy due to the presence of curry powder.
Fresh Sea Prawns (新鲜明虾, RM25.00) are a scrumptious treat too. Each serving is 250 grams of genuine shrimp goodness. The shrimps work well with any type of soup, but I find them particularly enjoyable with Si Chuan Spicy Soup.
At Hou Mei Wo Steamboat, fish balls are sourced from Pulau Ketam. Several popular fish ball choices are Homemade Fish Balls (手制鱼蛋, RM7.90), Crystal Fish Balls (玻璃鱼蛋, RM7.90) and Crystal Fish Mee (玻璃鱼面, RM7.90).
There are also a number of ready-to-eat delicacies to enjoy while waiting for steamboat soup to boil. Fried Kampar Meat Balls (金宝炸丸, RM6.90) is made from pork and is best consumed while warm; otherwise the meat becomes tough. Fried Taufu (香炸瓤豆腐, RM7.90) is made in-house and is stuffed with minced pork. As for Fried Dumpling (香炸水饺, RM8.90), underneath the crispy dough skin are minced pork, carrots and cloud ear fungus.
Hou Mei Wo Steamboat formulates the recipe for most of its condiments. Special ones that deserve mention are coriander chili (芫茜辣椒), lime garlic chili (桔仔蒜米辣椒) and garlic chili (蒜米辣椒).
Besides the à la carte menu, there are also several set meal options for individuals and parties up to four people. There is also a vegetarian version which consists of various types of mushroom. Set meals do not include the price of soup, so it is worthwhile to dine in larger parties as the cost of soup only incurs once for table.
Unlike other branches, this Lorong Selamat outlet is only open for dinner. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 15 popular items are offered at 50% discount. This discount also applies to lunch on weekdays at other outlets that serve lunch.
Name: Hou Mei Wo Steamboat (好味锅猪骨火锅)
Address: 46, Lorong Selamat, 10400 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-218-9859
Business hours: 5:00pm-11:30pm
Coordinates: 5.41821 N, 100.32541 E
Directions: From Macalister Road (Jalan Macalister), turn to Lorong Selamat. Hou Mei Wo Steamboat is approximately 250 meters down this one-way road, on the left. There are private parking spaces in front of the restaurant.

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