The local TV personality and celebrity chef's hotpot service begins with browsing the ingredients online and culminates in delicious smells wafting from a gurgling pot or smoking grill
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No stranger to steamboat culture, Gen.T lister Ili Sulaiman was born to a Chinese-English mother and Malay-Sri Lankan father, and grew up surrounded by constant action in her grandmother's kitchen. During lockdown, Ili found herself reminiscing about reunions revolving around food and, with the encouragement of her friends, decided to start Ili Pot, a DIY hot pot and grill delivery service. What follows is this writer's firsthand experience with the hot pot set-up on ilipot.com.my.
It’s the conversations around the table while waiting for your soup to bubble, the fussing about who gets the last fish ball, and the fact that everyone plays a part in making the thick broth taste so good, right up to the end of the meal
What gives Ili Pot an edge over its competitors is its all-encompassing model. No portable stove? No problem. Add an 18cm wide steamboat pot or 20cm grill skillet to your cart for just RM29.90. Though small in size, the nifty devices work like a charm. Don't leave out a single-time burner (RM9.90), which you'll need for firing up your stove and/or grill.
TATLER TIP: Every order of a pot comes with a complimentary ladle and slotted spoon to enhance your steamboat experience.
Not only did a representative stay communicable via WhatsApp mere minutes after placing our order, everything was also delivered in an insulated cooler bag within the requested time frame.
More than anything, my partner and I were bowled over the by sheer variety of soup bases—five in all—ranging from spicy miso to creamy chicken. A coin toss determined our final decision, although upon reflection, we could have ordered more than one soup.
While part of the fun of visiting a hot pot restaurant is mixing your own sauces, what's to stop you from doing the same at home? Ili Pot's Gila Hot Sauce and Kick Chili Sauce are delicious on their own, but go ahead and be your own 'sauce mixologist'.
Ingredients are neatly sectioned into different categories such as 'Meat Slices,' 'Seafood,' 'Meatballs,' 'Vegetables' and 'Nasi & Noodles,' but indecisive eaters can simply opt for a steamboat or grill combo.
TATLER TIP: The crab nuggets were a crowd favourite.
Dinner for two cost under RM40 each, making Ili Pot one of the most affordable hot pot meals we've had in recent times (especially after having spent twice that amount at a popular hot pot restaurant the weekend prior). Most ingredients on the menu cost RM5.90, with the priciest items being the Seafood Platter and BBQ Shortribs at RM29.90.
Part of the appeal of hot pot is first tasting each ingredient as a stand-alone component before coming up with 101 configurations. Save for some scallops on the shell which had clearly been frozen, everything we sampled was fresh and well seasoned, from the crispy fuzhuk (beancurd) to the zesty kimchi.
Most importantly, Ili's reason for starting up Ili Pot has already seen success. Happily looking across the table at me as our little hot pot bubbled away, my partner said, "This is fun!"