Those familiar with Chengdu Hot Pot, the Chinese equivalent of fondue, will find everything they could ever wish for at Yuan’s Hot Pot. Prepared with the delicious meat, the most delicate fish, and best vegetables by yourself at your table. For those who have not had this sort of dining adventure before, let me assure you: it is an absolutely great experience.
Yuan’s Hot Pot makes you feel like you are in China! Although located on the Rijnstraat in Amsterdam, the decor is identical to eateries in China: the wooden tables, wall decorations, sleek and light interior, and the Chinese TV station displayed on the ceiling.
Since expats and Amsterdammers have started to frequent Yuan’s Hot Pot, the owners have initiated a second establishment at Marie Heinekenplein, set to open its doors in November. This news is not surprising at all. Hot Pot is China’s most popular cuisine, and quickly becoming mine. It is the Chinese way of having a fondue. At your table you cook your meat, fish or vegetables in a large hot pot of broth or soup, using chopsticks.
Wear an apron
In short, Yuan’s Hot Pot serves authentic Chinese food. As the name suggests, there is only Hot Pot on the menu. The helpful waiter will hand you an iPad on which you can browse the menu, make your choice of dishes, and order. Plus, everyone gets an apron rather than the more typical napkin.
To begin, choose a spicy or mild broth. It’s alright if you want both in the same pot, you’ll get a nice 50/50 mix. Next, select the meat. That is easier said than done, because the selection is extensive. There is lamb and pork belly, as well as specialities like duck’s tongue, pork kidney and bovine aorta. What’s more, there’s an incredible selection of beautiful fish such as sole, mussels, shrimp, squid and crab, just to mention a few.
There is also chicken and a great variety of vegetables on the menu. There’s all kinds of mushrooms, spinach, winter melon, kelp, and don’t forget the tofu and rice. Eventually, you choose your drinks. Just one click more on the iPad and you have ordered your meal.
In less than a minute your steaming Hot Pot is served, instantly followed by a beautifully arranged dish of meat, brought in by the graceful staff. A small amount of fondue broth is served to the individual bowls for guests to enjoy as a soup, and each person gets a shrimp dumpling as an appetizer, which are cooked in the hot pot in only a few minutes. Thankfully, to keep track of time, we are given a little egg timer.
Soon our table is filled with numerous small dishes – one with coriander, onions, soya oil another with peanuts – and bowls with mushrooms, chicken, sole, lamb and so much more. To complete it all in style we have a pot of aromatic jasmine tea.
In front of the open kitchen, there is a variety of sauces you can help yourself to. In addition, as a little treat, on a recent visit we were given a bowl of deep-fried spring rolls, which, by mistake, we put in the hotpot.
That this establishment is related to a community of 400 restaurants in China, it is not surprising at all to find that this restaurant is extremely well managed. “Yuan’s Hot Pot opened its first restaurant, called Yuan’s Chuan Chuan Xiang in Chinese, in Chengdu in 1996,” manager Sen Sun tells me. “Ever since, Yuan’s has been a market-leader. In 2017, we opened our first restaurant outside China, in Vancouver, Canada, followed by this one in Amsterdam in 2018.”
Proof that this is an excellent spot is the queue of hungry arrivals waiting to be seated. Don’t forget to make a reservation! Chinese and non-Chinese expats, locals, the young and the old, everyone seems to know that Yuan’s is the place to be. Moreover, it is more than suitable for larger groups. This place is a true communal experience in an authentic atmosphere.
We over-ordered for sure, we couldn’t even finish everything. If our serving sounded a bit too meat-heavy for some of you, don’t be scared. At Yuan’s, there is a wide vegan and vegetarian range on the menu, including a separate broth.
For dessert, we had vanilla ice cream and delicious Illy coffee.
Monday-Sunday: 12:00- 22:30