Friday, August 8, 2014

Elixir Health Pot (Civic) (無老鍋) (市民店)

Elixir Health Pot (無老鍋) is actually a restaurant owned by the same group that owns Tripod King (鼎王).  As mentioned in my previous post, 鼎王 gained tabloid spotlights during my stay in Taipei for their food quality problems and has been banned from my trip.   Yet, I still went to 無老鍋 as there were various guarantees that they did not use the same supplies as 鼎王 and they do not share the same issues.  (You believe that?  Oh well... I figured it's probably the safest time to go anyway...)

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Turns out, I actually really liked 無老鍋.  The service was O - M - G good.  I am not kidding.  Every time the server comes to deliver our orders, he would make a 90 degree bow before he leaves.  The seats were secluded and very private.  Duck's blood and tofu are refillable and you can even take fresh soup base to go if you wish (so you can enjoy the leftovers the next day!!!)  Again, there was the 90-minutes limit but since we went on a weekday and nobody was waiting for our table, we didn't feel rushed!  However, the server was very fast in putting your food into the pot so you will have to tell him to slow down if you want to take a picture (i.e. the Japanese ice-cream tofu)...

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Our server told us to let it boil in the soup and soaked up the juices
It will be ready in about 10 minutes
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Honestly, I can't even remember what it tastes like.
They were soft but quite bland otherwise

Perhaps I am so used to the rude and merciless servers in Hong Kong, the courteous service here at 無老鍋 made me borderline uncomfortable.  (I almost stood up and return the bow to our server every time he bows to us...)  In fact, I haven't been to a restaurant in Taiwan where there is poor service yet.  Maybe people here actually respect their job?  I really don't know...

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Hidden behind is an elevator for customers who needed special access
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The interior decor here is tastefully done
(so it's pricier than your normal hotpot shop...)
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a house special herbal tea
unfortunately, nobody in our party really appreciates it
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The condiments bar
They actually advise you against dipping the food in the condiments
as they said the hotpots were well seasoned

I tend to agree...
...and ended up eating most of the food as is.

Anyways, back to the food.  As the name suggests, Elixir Health Pot (無老鍋) stresses on a holistic approach to hotpot (an oxymoron if you ask me) and one of their soup bases even has collagen in it... (seriously!)  We ordered the Twin Flavors Broth (鴛鴦鍋) - Japanese ice cream tofu pot (日本冰淇淋豆腐鍋) + Wu Lao spicy hotpot (無老長生辣香鍋).

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Although a whole ginseng was added to the soup
I didn't find the flavor very prominent.

However, the spicy broth was just not spicy enough for us.  It got better after our server brought additional spices to add to the soup base (while apologizing and bowing all along) but my friend complained it was still not spicy enough for her...  I found the bland broth quite a common problem with the "spicy" hotpots in all of the hotpot restaurants I have tried in Taiwan.  Perhaps our definition of "spicy" is different?  Sichuan hotpots in Hong Kong are quite spicy... and don't even start me on the real deal in Chongqing.  (The last time I had spicy hotpot in Sichuan, I remember I was snorting and sweating... and I wasn't only in Chengdu...)

The rest of the ingredients were fine (meaning, nothing really stood out).  Again, I really liked their "bread" tofu (麵包豆腐) and duck's blood and if I had known they were refillable, I probably would have ordered a few things less.  As long as you don't come here expecting a spicy hotpot, I think it would be an enjoyable experience.  (oh, and come on a weekday if you don't want to be rushed!)

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The Signature Wu Lao Pork
招牌無老肉

we didn't find the pork very special...
it was mostly tasteless
the small pot was covered in a ton of ice...
gimmick stuff
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Mashed Scallops
干貝滑
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Combination dumplings
綜合鮮餃
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Combination Yuba Rolls
美味雙捲
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Cuttlefish
墨魚片
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Squid?
I don't remember
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the duck's blood here is thinly sliced
since it was boiled in the spicy pot for a while
I found it tasty and smooth
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and it would be a shame to skip vegetables when you are in Taiwan
the cabbage here is so sweet!!!
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a smoothie to cleanse our palates
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I know I will come back next time I come to Taipei again :) You might find it odd that I would return even when the food itself was just average... well, I liked the space and the food is not bad, just not outstanding...  But that's how I find hotpots are in general... as long as the ingredients are fresh and the broth is good, there really isn't much skills to it. Yet, it's a great way to spend time with your friends :P

Elixir Health Pot (Civic) (無老鍋) (市民店)
No. 143 Section 3, Civic Blvd, Zhongshan District, Taipei
台北市中山區埤頭里市民大道三段143
Tel: +886 02-2731-7928
Hours: 11:00  AM ~ 02:00 AM

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