Conveyer belt sushi is a concept all of us have been familiar with for a long time, but conveyer belt steamboat? Damn, sign me up for that.
The next time you’re in the vicinity of Chinatown, swing by 食尚捞 (Steamov) before heading to a bar for your drinking session. Can we also take a moment to appreciate the adorable name? Steamov, as in steam-move… because conveyer belt?
They have a huge LED sign outside with their contact number, so you definitely can’t miss it.
Newly opened in September 2017, Shi Shang Lao is the first ever hotpot restaurant in Singapore with a conveyer belt concept. The restaurant has a seating capacity of 200 diners, and you can choose to sit at the tables or counter seats, but everyone gets their own individual pot of soup, so you don’t have to fight over what soup base to order.
As with every other hotpot place, Shi Shang Lao has a self-serve condiment station. But what makes its stations stand out is the wide array of home-made chilli sauces, so be sure to try every single one of them if you can.
Taking ‘spoilt for choice’ to a whole new level, Shi Shang Lao serves over 100 ingredients, 10 soup bases, and over 20 drinks.
All the drinks are displayed on the shelf above the conveyer belt, so feel free to grab the drink you want and ask the service staff for a glass of ice. The drinks are not free though, with prices starting from $1.20.
We tried the top recommended soups, starting with the Tomato Pot ($5). If you’re a fan of Hai Di Lao’s tomato soup, this will be up your alley. It is similar in taste but lighter on the palate, making for a better soup base for the ingredients that doesn’t mask the food’s taste.
The Fragrant Spicy Pot ($5) is another crowd-favourite, and perfect for spice lovers. Laden with chilli oil, this pot will be torture for people who don’t do well with spice. But if you’re up for the challenge, opt for the Extra Spicy Pot ($5). We were told it has put the strongest contenders to shame.
The Herbal Duck Pot ($5) was the least impressive to us, with little herbal or duck taste. Though it was a little too bland for our liking, the taste will intensify in time after cooking the ingredients in it.
And don’t be fooled by its name, but the Sour Vege Fish Pot ($5) actually comes with a peppery kick, and the sour vegetable taste was potent.
Although the soups look more or less the same, they have very different flavour profiles and we will definitely be back to try the rest of the soups.
With so many ingredients on the conveyer belt, it was a very fun experience — just like a treasure hunt for your favourite ingredients.
It can get confusing identifying the ingredients, and we felt it would have been better if the bowls were labelled, so you’ll immediately know what to grab off the belt.
The basic ingredients include hotdogs, crabsticks and fishballs on the wooden satay skewer all go for $1 each, whilst premium ingredients with a metal skewer go for $3 each.
We even found unique ingredients here like the Squid Ink Ball ($1) which tasted just like the regular squid ball.
The Salmon Roe Ball ($1) was also something new to us. Expect a burst of flavours and contrasting textures when you bite into them. I had three sticks of these, it was that addictive!
The Satay Chicken ($1) skewers come with different seasonings, and it is not a dish you’ll often see in hotpots.
Apart from Satay Chicken, they also have slices of Smoked Duck ($1), which was tender with the right amount of smoky flavour.
Next, we move on to the most value-for-money shabu shabu plates EVER. They are not on the conveyer belt so you’ll have to order these separately, and they come in unbelievably big portions for nett prices.
Starting from the most affordable, the Chicken Rolls ($8) came with a total of 18 rolls piled on the plate. The chicken was fresh and had a good ratio of fat-to-lean meat, giving extra texture.
The Pork Bellies ($8) were also of top quality, with perfect marbling of fats. They were also cut up into shorter slices for easier eating.
The Beef ($10), too, came in a mountain; at this point, I was starting to wonder how 食尚捞 (Steamov) keeps their prices so low.
Something quite special that you don’t usually see in hotpot restaurants is Mutton Rolls ($10). I’ve never had mutton in steamboat, but I’m always up for trying something new. There’s no gamey taste at all, and the excellent marbling of fats was irresistible.
Shi Shang Lao also offers a medley of seafood including prawns, crab and salmon fillets. And in case you’re feeling sceptical, all the seafood we tried was very fresh, without any excessively fishy taste.
We loved how the conveyer belt has you covered from appetiser to dessert — similar to what you’d expect from any decent food spread. To round off your meal, there are fresh fruits such as dragon fruit, honeydew, rock melon and watermelon, that are constantly replaced to ensure freshness.
There’s something thrilling about not knowing what you’re going to get, and this was indeed the most fun I’ve ever had at a hotpot restaurant. It’s this treasure hunt of sorts that definitely makes 食尚捞 (Steamov) stand out from the rest.
There were a lot more ingredients that I was not able to try because of the wide variety and my lack of stomach space, but I will definitely return for this face-stuffing experience again.
Expected damage: $10 – $25 per pax