Ju — Hokkaido Kelp Hotpot (Taiwan)

November 18, 2011 in Food, Reviews, Taiwan, Travel by pacejmiller

There are more and more hotpot restaurants in Taiwan, and while they aren’t exactly my thing, I do enjoy the occasional hot broth with fresh meat and lots and lots of vegetables.

Ju (聚) is one of the newer upper market hotpot joints that specialises in Hokkaido kelp soup bases, which is supposedly lighter and healthier.  The restaurant is in the same group as Tasty, Yuan Shao and Pin Tian (click on the links for my reviews), so you know you’re in for a quality meal that will fill you up to the neck.

Ju has a simple menu that offers essentially two set meals — the more expensive NT$540 (+10% service charge) set which offers higher quality meats and more courses, or the economic $340 (+10% service charge) set which was good enough for me.  You choose the flavour of your soup base, a meat, a small dish like meat paste, balls or dumplings, rice or noodles and a dessert.  Trust me, it’s a lot.

Unlike some shabu shabu restaurants that have in-built pot cookers, Ju uses an electronic hotplate.  And unlike some shabu shabu restaurants, you get your own table and only sit with people you’re with.  It’s usually one pot between two people, but it’s essentially individual as they can put a divider in the pot to split it into two.  Of course, if you go by yourself or the numbers are odd, you can get a whole big pot to yourself.

Every set comes with a big bowl of vegetables, tofu, taro, pumpkin, tomato, mushrooms, etc.  You also get a big plate of thinly sliced meet — beef, pork, fish or a mixed platter (two meats), though it’s advisable to select widely and share.

For the small dish, we got a complimentary meat paste, and we ordered a mixed set of crab meatballs and taro wheels.

I ordered the udon.

You also get unlimited plum vinegar (to cleanse the palette, so they say).

The quality of the food is self-evident, but what makes me give Ju the thumbs up is the dipping sauce they provide.  Ju doesn’t allow you to make your own sauce like a lot of other places; instead, they give you two — a sour soy dipping sauce with chilli and spring onions, and my personal favourite, the sweet sesame sauce.  I was dipping everything in that sesame sauce.

For dessert, we picked two — a Hokkaido orange milk pudding and a longan black fungus sweet soup.

As I said before, hotpots aren’t really my thing, but Ju is a place I definitely wouldn’t mind going back to.  Fresh, quality food, excellent variety, your own pot, and one awesome sesame sauce.

8.5 out of 10!

Details:

Ju Hokkaido Kelp Hotpot (聚北海道昆布鍋)

Website: http://www.giguo.com.tw

Price: NT$340-540 per person (+ 10% service charge).

Stores and contact: currently 9 stores in Taipei — Nanjing East Road, Dunhua North Road, Zhongxiao East SOGO, Dunhua South Eslite, Hengyang Road, Nanchang Road, Dapinling, Banqiao, Chungli) — for addresses, nearest MRT stations phone numbers and maps, see http://www.giguo.com.tw/store.htm (in Chinese but can use Google to translate).

Open 7 days for lunch (11:30-14:30) and dinner (17:30-22:00).

Bookings recommended.