While the mala craze has taken the island by storm, the aromatic chicken hotpot is a tasty alternative to be reckoned with.
Located on the ground floor of [email protected], Fatbird 胖胖鸡 combines Chong Qin-style hot pots with the spicy dry wok preparation method.
The tables have plenty of space so you don’t have to worry about your hot pots clanging into each other.
There are even the cute booth seats so grab a few of your close pals and cosy up over a meal.
Ady, the manager at Fatbird, explained to us that many have the misconception that they serve mala hot pot buffets, but it should really be referred to as a Chicken Hot Pot Buffet ($14.80++) instead. While they do offer mala broths, the main star of the show is ultimately still the Chong Qin chicken pot.
Just to initiate you into the ordering process, it’s done in three simple steps: First, you get to pick your hotpot base (ranging from chicken to beef and even bullfrog!), plus there isn’t a limit to how many pots you get to choose, so go crazy with all the different types of broths!
Next, you pick your spicy level – mild (小辣), medium (中辣) and extreme (大辣).
Finally, choose as many toppings you want from the vast selection; you can expect pretty similar toppings to what you’ll find at mala hotpot stalls. The chef will then mix it all in and bring out your piping hot pot.
Before we began, Ady came over to ask if we could take spicy food, like really spicy food. We’re no strangers to mala, considering how every Monday is Mala Monday here at the office, so we confidently said yes. Nonetheless, the fact that he had to ask a couple of times did leave us a bit nervous.
We started with the Spicy & Fragrant Chicken pot base in medium spicy level (中辣) with various toppings that the chef picked out for us, but of course, you can always customise your pot.
There were generous servings of chicken chunks in the pot, and they were delightfully tender too. I don’t know about you, but there’s something about the mix of meat and veggies soaked in red hot sauce that’s so mouth-watering to me.
All toppings are mixed in straight into the pot when cooked, with the exception of chicken sausages, mutton slices and beef slices (which is what we had). Diners can still get the experience of cooking these meats on their own to the doneness of their choice.
As with usual sukiyaki style meats, the thin slices only need to be swirled in the broth for a while before they’re ready to eat.
The Bullfrog pot base came as a shocker to me because I’m not used to having frogs in my meals, but my colleagues let out a tiny cheer of glee. All I could think about then was that I was lucky to have them taste it for me so I dodged a bullet there.
But I guess it’s difficult to find bullfrog in spicy hotpot, so this will probably get frog legs lovers hopping in their seats.
This came with the extreme spicy level (大辣), which we boldly took a huge bowl of. I thought that the spice level was tolerable, but still got a kick out of it. However, if you’re the type that can’t stomach a McSpicy to save your life, the 大辣 isn’t for you.
I was amused at how their vermicelli was served in a knot, giving it an interesting bite. This made it a little difficult to eat though, and the springiness of the noodle strands wasn’t helping either.
As if those two pots weren’t enough to send us into a food coma, Ady came over with the third pot, the Herbal Chicken in Chestnut Soup, along with many more ala carte dishes.
We really loved the herbal chicken soup — it possessed the right amount of richness, yet didn’t have an overpowering taste of herbs (for those who shy away from ginseng). Plus, it’s a great break from the previous two tear-jerkingly spicy broths.
Commonly found in many Sichuan restaurants, these Spicy Chicken Cubes ($14) look rather innocent, but they can send you choking up from the spice (as did one of my colleagues from complacence), “it can’t be that spicy what,” he said.
Trust us, it is that spicy. Proceed with caution with this one, the spray of dried chillies on the plate should have already warned you. But if you’re up to the challenge, it gets shioker the more you eat it.
One of my favourites of the afternoon was the Century Egg with Chopped Green Chilli ($4.80). It was so addictive I think I single-handed finished three-quarters of the plate (oops).
The chilli oil kinda reminded me of spicy Sichuan wontons in red oil, also known as 红油抄手 in mandarin.
We were treated to a plate of Salted Egg Fish Skin ($8), which can be considered a must-have at Chinese restaurants.
The pieces were light, crisp and well-coated with the savoury salted egg sauce. It didn’t reek of any fishy taste either, for those who avoid the snack because of this very reason.
The Spicy & Fragrant Stingray Pot ($14) admittedly fell short of its illustration in the menu, seemingly underwhelming and a little unappetising because of the unfortunate plating.
Still, the stingray soaked up the sauce well and fell apart in our mouths quite easily. Let’s just hope that they figure out a truer way to recreate the dish represented on their menu.
The Chinese Spinach with Salted & Century Egg ($10) is no stranger to us, and some of us might recognise it at the zi char table during family gatherings.
It was overall pretty decent, but nothing in the bowl made it spectacular.
You can never go wrong with these Golden Fried Mantous, right? Part of the buffet menu, these pan-fried buns were absolutely yummy; so yummy that we had to order seconds.
It came with a side of condensed milk for dipping too. I gotta tell you, my scepticism was through the roof when my colleague said the milk was a really great condiment because mantous are meant to be savoury, are they not?
Unconvinced, I tried dipping them in every spicy sauce available at the table but none seemed to sit well with the mantou. Until I gave the condensed milk a chance and was immediately converted. The sweetness was well-balanced by the bun’s crispy coating — all without being jelak either.
While their ala carte menu didn’t wow us, their buffet is truly well-worth travelling to the East for (yes, even if you’re a Westie). You’ll get to enjoy their spicy offerings all for the price of $14.80++ on weekdays, and if that isn’t a steal then I don’t know what is!
Expected Damage: Buffet: $14.80++ for adults, $9.90++ for children, (Mon-Thurs); $17.90++ for adults, $9.90++ for children (Fri-Sun, eve of & PH)
Fatbird 胖胖鸡: Heartbeat @ Bedok, 11 Bedok North Street 1, #01-24, Singapore 469662 | Opening Hours: 10.30am – 12midnight (Daily); Buffet Hours: 12noon to 4pm, 9pm to 11:15pm (Daily) | Tel: +65 6284 0473 | Facebook | Instagram
Thanks for reading the article. Share if you enjoyed!