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Hot Pot at Hanashima

Posted by Emily / February 17, 2008

A watched pot never boils. Those words never rang truer for me than they did last night, as I sat in Hanashima, waiting for my pot of chicken broth to boil. This was my first experience with Japanese hot pot, and I was already at the edge of my seat with anticipation. My friend and I each had our own servings of meat, vegetables, and pots of broth on individual burners. Before I could add the food into the broth, my friend told me I had to wait for it to boil. Her broth was actively bubbling away, but she politely waited for mine to heat up before digging in. We both stared intensely at my pot, as if we could heat it with the Force.

It boiled eventually, and about sixty seconds after that, my meat was cooked and ready to eat. The thin slices of pork had shriveled into tender broth-soaked vehicles for the soy sauce and peanut dipping sauce that were served on the side. A plate of green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, and radishes also made for nice crunchy and chewy compliments to the meat. The mushrooms soaked up the broth like sponges. And the fat Udon noodles grew even fatter as they swam around in the boiling hot pot.

As my friend and I slurped up the last of our steaming soup, we felt like Hanashima was exactly the right place to be on a night as bone-chilling as last night was.

In addition to being an antidote for the Montreal winter, the restaurant also allowed us to indulge in a substantial and utterly pleasant dinner for pretty darn cheap. Factoring in my “small” plate of pork, the vegetables, the broth, the noodles, the rice, and the complimentary scoop of red bean ice cream, I spent a grand total of $10.50. Tax included.

Hanashima should also get points for its slick décor. My friend and I sat at the large rectangular bar in the middle of the restaurant, which had individual burners installed into its shiny black surface. There were exotic kabuki-style paintings on the walls that matched the restaurant’s red and black color scheme. And when we weren’t chatting or fishing scraps of meat from our bowls, my friend and I entertained ourselves by watching poor souls trudge up and down de la Gauchetiere in the blustery cold outside.

I didn’t bother to check and see which non-hot-pot options Hanashima offered, but I can’t imagine why anyone would order anything else from the restaurant until at least April. And if they cranked up the AC enough, I think I’d even order a hot pot in July.

75 de la Gauchetiere



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