We are this close to trading in jackets, indoor dining, and warm drinks for flip-flops, outdoor terraces, and the clink of a cocktail or two. But before we dive right into warm weather and the changes that come with it, here’s one more place for the cool nights that may (or may not) remain. Liounge.
Two friends of mine (both Singaporean) recently took me here, and I’m oh so happy they did. The food was delicious, the atmosphere hopping, and best of all? I got to experience an entirely different way of dining— Hot Pot Dining. These friends of mine knew all about this from their experiences throughout Asia, but I’d never heard about it and now realize how much I’ve been missing. I love soup and I love fondue; hot pot dining combines the two in the best way possible.
The concept is pretty simple. Each table gets a big pot with two soups inside it, made possible by the handy-dandy divider you see in the photo above. The soups we chose were the Coconut Thai Soup and the Neutral Soup made of broth, ginger, and scallions. Now these soups alone were delicious enough, but here is where the fun comes in…
…see, the pot sits on top of this heating plate all meal long, hence its moniker, hot pot. And rather than stick with just soup alone, hot pot dining allows you to create your soup with additions like vegetables, meat, tofu, seafood, noodles, and rice.
There’s an entire buffet with everything from sliced beef to tofu cubes, jumbo shrimp to mussels, various noodles, and vegetables galore. Everything is (see above) raw. You load up on your goodies, then take them back and create your own specially designed soup. (Well, a soup everyone at your table creates. This is communal dining.) It’s incredible! Within minutes the meat and seafood cook to perfection, the vegetables soften, and the mix that results is one big flavor burst that lasts through the night. Hot Pot dining is best enjoyed with a big appetite, at least here, because the staff came back at one point to refill our broth. You can go back to the buffet all you want, so essentially it’s one big food fest.
Hard to believe we still managed to enjoy some of the tasty appetizers served up at Liounge, for example the green peppers in a black bean sauce (unbelievable, I could have eaten another plate), above, or the seasoned peanuts, below.
Last but not least, a peek at the interior. A bit industrial, but made cozy with the warm lighting. Had a nice urban feel to it, without straying too far from old Vienna with the round arches common to so many establishments downtown.
Interesting to note that this restaurant is located on the same street as Ramien, which I wrote about here and Shanghai Tan, a place I hope to visit soon. Perhaps this is the beginning of a certain type of restaurant row? Go Vienna, go!
In the meantime, go to Liounge. With friends. Enjoy!