Last Updated: November 6, 2019
I’m pretty amazed by how the love for hotpot meals still runs deep for most Singaporeans, nearly bordering on obsession. Personally, I’m quite indifferent to it, with occasions that call for a hearty hotpot dinner being far and few between.
My perception was easily swayed the moment I experienced Tong Xin Ru Yi Traditional Hotpot‘s novel hotpot concept. I have to say, seeing Tong Xin Ru Yi’s scant exterior (in a good way, I promise) stuck out like a sore thumb, amongst the tired and aged shophouses of Boat Quay, which flanked its residence.
What greeted me was a beautiful and elegant sight of wooden furniture, strategically placed as if in an art gallery. In fact, there were corners adorned with intricate Chinese crafts and traditional calligraphy, along with fragile porcelain pieces—all reflecting the richness of the owner’s heritage, which unknowingly at that time, was a marker of how bountiful my meal would be.
Along with a well-furnished dining space, they also provided a well-equipped DIY sauce bar where diners can mix a selection of ingredients according to the recipe cards shown, or get creative and create their own magical dip.
I would’ve never thought to deep-fry mint leaves, but their Fried Mint Leaf (S$8) was truly an addictive snack. I’m not sure if the leaves were seasoned at all, as I could barely make out a distinct taste, but I didn’t mind.
I cautioned myself to not over-indulge in this light and crisp snack as I wanted to ensure I had sufficient tummy space to really savour everything that was about to be presented.
As someone who only learned to appreciate oysters in recent years, their BBQ Garlic Oysters (S$32 for six pieces) from Canada impressed me. The distinct smoky, garlicky aroma was undeniable, as were the deep and savoury notes that overwhelmed my palate the moment I shoved the entire oyster in my mouth.
Be sure to call in advance to make sure they have these in stock for the day before coming down, though.
If oysters aren’t your thing, I don’t blame you. Alternatively, you could go for the tongue-numbing Shake-Shake Crispy Pork (S$10). There’s fun to be had with this snack as it comes served in a shaker tub, meant to assist you in mixing in the seasoning with the deep-fried pork morsels. I was told that it would be lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, but I could tell they were pretty heavy-handed with the pepper part.
No matter, my tummy was getting impatient waiting for the broths to come to a boil, so I happily popped these crispy pork chunks like popcorn.
The most unique aspect of Tong Xin Ru Yi is their hotpot broth. The broths here don’t simply serve the purpose of cooking raw ingredients; the broths here already come brimming with ingredients. For example, I had the Stewed Marinated Beef With Spicy Soup (S$48) and Golden Chicken Soup (S$68).
Half portions are also available, so you can have two halves with different broths, just like I did. The former comes with a trio of braised beef cubes, beef tendons, and beef backstraps—all to create a deep, rich and luxurious Sichuan-spicy broth. Yes, I hear you mala fans—it was a fiery number, better suited to those who can handle the heat.
There’s also golden deep-fried tofu and radishes for a wholesome broth. The best cut of beef, in my opinion, was the tendon, with its good combination of slightly springy texture and gratifying chew.
The thick, bright yellow hue of the broth is all thanks to a combination of chicken and sweet golden pumpkin. Thrown into the mix are black fungus, yam, konjac, pineapple chunks, sliced cucumber, brown shimeji mushrooms, and pumpkin chunks for a truly holistic broth that requires little to no additional seasoning.
The broth was soothing and reminded me of comforting chicken soups that I’ve had when under the weather.
This glorious platter of Premium Eight Second Beef (S$24)—which you also need to call ahead to check on its availability—lives up to its name. The New Zealand beef was exquisitely marbled and proved itself to cook almost instantly, in yes, eight seconds.
Once cooked, the beef had slight resistance; it wasn’t as tender as I would’ve liked it, and I found myself chewing longer than expected.
My favourite meat platter of all had to be the Beef Tongue (S$22). Not only was it daintily arranged into a rose, it was also (surprisingly) the most tender cut I enjoyed. It didn’t have any gamey taste to it, contrary to what many may believe.
Not often found in hotpot places in Singapore, the Black-bone Chicken Slice (S$20) proved to be mildly sweet, apart from its reputation for being loaded with antioxidants. Between this and the Beef Tongue, I still preferred the latter solely based on its texture.
The Spicy Beef Cubes (S$16) looked intimidating, for sure, and they certainly tasted as spicy as they looked. A little trick I used to try and tame the spiciness was to cook it in the Golden Chicken Soup and made sure to allow the beef cubes to soak up sufficient broth.
It sorta worked for most of the beef cubes, but I do have to say, it still managed to take my palate hostage with its potent spiciness.
Leafy greens here are replaced by unique greens like Gracilaria (S$6). They retain their crunchiness despite being cooked in broth, and even so, it’s advised that you only cook them for a few seconds so that the natural sweetness comes through.
The floral-like arrangement of the Vince Tofu (S$8) is quite a sight to behold as it’s finely sliced into thin strands, opening up into a Chrysanthemum-shaped bloom. Needless to say, the tofu was incredibly silky and required almost no chewing and I slurped this up in seconds.
Cool down with their Traditional Ice Jelly (S$3) that comes in a mini-mountain of ice jelly, black sugar syrup, crushed peanuts, raisins, and hawthorn. The contrasting textures really drew me in, and in spite of the use of brown sugar, its sweetness was balanced.
I have to say, Tong Xin Ru Yi Traditional Hotpot truly won me over, first with their spacious dining area, and then with their premium cuts of meat and broths. There was very little frenzy and for a change, I didn’t have to worry about walking out with that much-undesirable smell of broth and meat in my hair.
Best of all, you can visit regardless of your budget, given that the broths already include meat and vegetables. Should you be feeling more generous with your spending, order more meat and vegetable platters! I could easily hold a conversation and truly relax during my meal, which is typically not the case when having a hotpot meal. Two words: a must-visit.
Expected Damage: S$50 – S$70 per pax
Price: $ $ $
Our Rating: 5 / 5
Tong Xin Ru Yi Traditional Hotpot
6 Lorong Telok, Singapore 049019
6 Lorong Telok, Singapore 049019