Xiao Long Kan

Special thanks to Xiao Long Kan Hotpot for extending this food review invitation.

Xiao Long Kan Hotpot (小龙坎老火锅) is taking the food scene by storm! The latest hot pot restaurant is located at Sunrise Tower near Gurney Plaza. At the restaurant entrance, customers are greeted by a pair of imperial throne seats, on which they may sit to pose for photos.
Xiao Long Kan is founded in Chengdu (成都) in the Sichuan Province (四川省) of China. There are currently over 800 outlets throughout China. This is Xiao Long Kan's second outlet in Malaysia; the first one is at Fahrenheit 88 in Kuala Lumpur.
The overarching theme of Xiao Long Kan revolves around Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a classic novel which dramatizes the Three Kingdoms Period (三国时代) of Imperial China. The dining area has several paintings that depict important scenes from the novel, such as the famous Oath of the Peach Garden (桃园结义).
To ensure that customers experience identical ambience as the original restaurant, the décor is designed and fitted by Chinese craftsmen. In addition, the dining tables and ornaments are also imported from China. Each table has an induction stove built into it. The table also has drawers to store paper napkins and toothpicks.
Our meal begins with a traditional appetizer, Rice Cakes (红糖糍粑, RM16.00). The glutinous rice cakes have crispy crusts but are chewy on the inside. Brown sugar syrup is drizzled on top. These rice cakes should be consumed while they are hot from the fryer.
Xiao Long Kan has several flavored broths for hot pot. Traditional Spicy Soup (麻辣汤) is by far the most popular choice. Diners can customize the level of spiciness from mildly spicy (小辣) to insanely spicy (变态辣). Meanwhile, non-spicy options are Pork Bone Soup (大骨汤), Mushroom Soup (菇菌汤) and Tomato Soup (番茄汤). Best of all, opt for any three flavors through a tripartite pot of "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" (三国演义, RM50.00 per person).
While broths play a key role in hot pot, the importance of condiments should not be underestimated too. At Xiao Long Kan, diners have the opportunity to customize their own dipping sauces using garlic, scallions, coriander and red chili peppers. Sesame oil, vinegar and chili oil are provided too.
If this is your first visit to Xiao Long Kan, it is advisable to ask a staff member for a standard blend of condiments. To enjoy hot pot (especially with sliced meat), briefly dip cooked food in the condiment bowl, and then slurp it down while it is warm.
Xiao Long Kan has a variety of meats to go with hot pot. For instance, XLK Spicy Chili Beef (双辣牛肉, RM48.00) is seasoned with two types of spices. The ultra-thin slices of Australian beef go especially well with Traditional Spicy Soup. The beef's pungent seasoning complements the numbing effect of Sichuan peppers (花椒).
The next food item, Pork Aorta (极品猪黄喉, RM26.00), is a rare delicacy indeed. It is almost tasteless on its own, so it goes well with any broth. Pork Aorta is prized for its unique texture, which is midway between springy and chewy.
Crystal Glass Duck Intestine (冰球鸭肠, RM28.00) is another exquisite delicacy. Served chilled on a block of ice, the entrails have a springy texture reminiscent of Japanese jellyfish.
Rose Meat Balls (手工玫瑰丸子, RM26.00) are infused with rose essence. The handcrafted meatballs are then served on rose petals for aesthetic appeal. I think Rose Meat Balls should be paired with Mushroom Soup in order to keep the rose's fragrance intact.
Lobster Balls (龙虾丸, RM8.00) are rather sweet and savory, making them compatible with any broth. Also served are Handmade Dumplings (手工水饺, RM9.00) filled with garlic chives (韭菜).
Moving on, Ling Long Rolls (玲珑卷, RM18.00) consist of deep-fried tofu skin. As the rolls absorb soup very quickly, they only need to be blanched for a second or two. Keep this in mind if you are cooking them in Traditional Spicy Soup.
Sliced Green Bamboo Shoots (功夫青笋, RM15.00) are not bamboo shoots per se, but are thin slices of celtuce. Celtuce is a cultivar of lettuce grown for its thick stem. Although celtuce has a mild taste, it does a great job in absorbing flavors from broths.
The Vegetable Platter (田园蔬菜拼盘, RM20.00) comprises of tomatoes, radishes, sweet corn, spinach (菠菜) and chrysanthemum greens (茼蒿). The vegetables serve as counterbalance to savory food items.
As for beverages, Tian Di No. 1 (天地一号, RM22.00) is a popular brand of apple cider vinegar (苹果醋) in China. The drink is carbonated to give a fizzy sensation on the tongue. Its tangy taste really helps to cleanse the palate between rounds of food.
The bane of eating hot pot is the lingering smell on one's clothing after the meal. Before exiting the restaurant, do take advantage of the odor removal machine near the cashier counter. Simply press the button and turn around slowly. The machine removes most odor in mere seconds!
Due to the overwhelming response, Xiao Long Kan does not take reservations by phone at the moment. Instead, customers are asked to get number tickets from the concierge. The expected waiting time in the evening can be as long as 2 hours! Nevertheless, I think it is well worth the wait as Xiao Long Kan Hotpot has given me an exceptional dining experience.

Name: Xiao Long Kan Hotpot (小龙坎老火锅)
Address: Sunrise Tower, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 012-478-9982
Business hours: 12:00pm-2:00pm
Website: https://www.xiaolongkan.com
Coordinates: 5.43991 N, 100.30818 E
Directions: Xiao Long Kan is located at Sunrise Tower near Pusat Penjaja Anjung Gurney. The restaurant entrance is at the ground floor. There are parking spaces in front of Sunrise Tower.

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