Seafresh Hot Pot

Special thanks to Seafresh Hot Pot for extending this food review invitation.

Seafresh Hot Pot (蒸味鲜蒸汽火锅) is a steamboat restaurant at Macalister Road (Jalan Macalister). Unlike soup-based steamboat that most Malaysians are familiar with, the steamboat technique here literally uses steam to cook food. This method of cooking is popular in China especially in the Guangdong (广东) Province.
This air-conditioned restaurants consists of two floors with several private dining rooms. At each table is a boiler built into it. With a supply of distilled water, the boiler sends a continuous stream of hot steam to cook food. This allows raw food to be cooked in a matter of minutes. Cooking duration varies from item to item, but fortunately for customers, the technicalities are handled by the staff.
There are roughly a dozen types of condiments to use as dipping sauces. Popular ones are seafood paste (海鲜酱), bean sauce (豆瓣酱), sweet sauce (甜酱) and coriander sauce (芫茜酱).
In addition, fried garlic (炸蒜头) and parsley sauce (芫荽酱) help to accentuate the natural taste of seafood without altering its flavor.
During cooking, natural moisture of food is released and drips down to the compartment under the steamer pan. Therefore, it is highly advisable to order a type of porridge to take advantage of this. Today's choice is Ribs & Dried Scallop Porridge (排骨瑶柱粥, RM15.90). The raw ingredients are added prior to cooking. After an hour into dining, raw rice disintegrates into porridge that is infused with seafood savoriness. The porridge goes particularly well with garlic (大蒜), ginger (姜) and parsley (香菜).
One advantage of using steam over soup to cook food is the fact that the former approach is able to preserve the natural flavor of ingredients. This is particularly important when dealing with fresh seafood, such as Grouper Slice (石斑鱼肉, RM15.00). Some customers prefer milder taste of wild grouper with the help of ginger, while others may opt for heavier seasoning on the fish.
Next on the line is Turbot (多宝鱼, RM128.00), which is approximately 900 grams in size. Turbot is a type of flatfish of which the adult form has both eyes on the left side of the body. Such asymmetry is necessarily as the fish hides from predators by resting horizontally on the seabed. Turbot's flesh is notable for being striking white even after cooking. The fish's texture is quite firm ad goes particularly well with porridge.
Meanwhile, Pork Slices (猪肉片, RM5.00) come in an order of 6 pieces. Cooked pork can be enjoyed on its own or with dipping sauces. I feel that the sweet sauce seems to work best in this case.
As for poultry, Chicken Thigh (鸡腿肉, RM8.00) is cooked to the right duration, allowing the flesh to become reasonably tender but still very juicy. Meanwhile, wolfberries (枸杞) provide a unique sense of sweetness.

Large Fresh Scallops (RM16.00) come 4 pieces per order. An interesting aspect of the scallops is the fact that their shells accumulate puddles of rich-tasting liquid when they are cooked. It is advisable to sip this hot soup directly from the shells (but carefully as the liquid may be hot); the experience is simply satisfying. Meanwhile, each piece of scallop contains an orange section containing roe, which is commonly known as the "coral" in culinary terms.
The next delicacy is Hairy Crabs (大闸蟹, RM38.00 each), which is also known as Chinese mitten crab. The most notable characteristic of the crabs are their hairy appendages which resemble mittens. These freshwater crabs are harvested in Lake Tai (太湖) in Jiangsu (江苏) Province, China. Male crabs are used here because females ones cost twice as much for the same size.
The Hairy Crabs are still alive when presented on the table, but they are rendered immobile because their claws and legs are tied up. The crabs are cooked until their shells turn bright red. The staff helps to remove the hard shells of crabs just before serving them. Hairy Crabs are prized for their creamy roe especially the portions right under the carapace.

Meanwhile, Clams (蛤蚌, RM10.00) come in portions of 300 grams per serving. Clams are sourced from local fishermen every evening in order to guarantee maximum freshness. As this outlet currently lacks the means to keep live shellfish overnight, unused ones are given away at the end of each day. Indeed, freshness is a critical aspect when dealing with steaming technique.
As for shrimps, two types are presented today: king prawns (明虾) and tiger prawns (老虎虾). Both are priced at RM10.00 per 100 grams. Like all seafood so far, the shrimps are extremely fresh. Each bite on their succulent flesh is gratifying indeed.
For customers who prefer dim sum (点心), Siew Mai (手工烧卖, RM5.00 for 6 pieces) and Fuzhou Fish Balls (福州鱼丸, RM5.00 for 5 pieces) are available. There are also Juicy Buns (流沙包, RM3.00 for 2 pieces) which are prepared in the form of miniature muffins. The buns are filled with sweet paste made from salted eggs and butter. Be careful when eaten the buns because the fillings may be piping hot.
As for tofu, Local Beancurd (豆腐, RM4.00) is recommended as its jelly-like softness is quite delectable. The tofu goes well with virtually any type of sauce.
For mushrooms, Abalone Mushrooms (鲍鱼菇, RM5.00) and Shiitake Mushrooms (香菇, RM5.00) are served this evening. Meanwhile, Broccoli (西兰花, RM4.00), Ladies Finger (羊角豆, RM3.00) and Lettuce (油麦, RM3.00) are popular choices of steamed vegetables.
Moving on to drinks, the bottle of Mature Vinegar Drink (陈醋饮料, RM24.00) is highly recommended. The brand is Tian Di No. 1 (天地一号) from Jiangmen (江门), China. This carbonated drink is somewhat similar to Coca-Cola but has a unique sense of tanginess. Although non-alcoholic, this drink has very strong alcohol-like aroma and is typically treated as a beer substitute in China. Meanwhile, customers who are new to this beverage should try the fruitier version first: Apple Vinegar Beverage (苹果醋饮料, RM6.50).
Apart from the à la carte menu, Seafresh Hot Pot has set meals for 2, 4, 6 or 8 persons. For example, a 2-person meal (RM88.00) comprises of 9 items including Grouper Slice, Large Fresh Scallops, King Prawn, Clams and more. Seafresh Hot Pot also has another outlet at Golden Triangle, Relau, but I have yet to visit that original shop.
Name: Seafresh Hot Pot (蒸味鲜蒸汽火锅)
Address: 152, Jalan Macalister, 10400 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 016-523-0989
Business hours: 5:00pm-1:00am
Coordinates: 5.41642 N, 100.32417 E
Directions: Seafresh Hot Pot is located at Macalister Road (Jalan Macalister), across the road from Guang Ming Daily (光明日报). Customer may park in front of the restaurant, but the amount of space is very limited. Additional parking is available within the compounds of at Guang Ming Daily, Sun Yat Sen Centre (槟城孙中山纪念馆) and the nearby Petron gas station.

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