I’m not a foodie but I enjoy watching NOC’s Food King because I have realised that my tastebuds are very similar to Ryan’s. Whatever he says is good, I would happen to love it too somehow.
So, as rare as it is for me to travel for food, I actually went all the way to Kovan from the West just to try Qi Xiang Chicken Pot with a few friends.
The owner, Lex, was very friendly and I took the chance to ask him a few questions about this unique hot pot with its uncommon thick, black, spicy soup base.
Apparently, this dish originates from China, and in China, they serve it as a dry claypot chicken dish. Broth and/or beer is added into the claypot after awhile to be enjoyed as a chicken hotpot!
Lex and his partner went all the way to China to learn the original recipe and brought the recipe back to Singapore. With their knowledge in locals’ preferences, they tweaked the recipe to make it less salty and oily; they also serve it as a chicken hotpot with broth right from the start instead of starting it off as a dry stir-fry chicken claypot.
Qi Xiang only has 2 different hot pots on its menu, and you can choose whether you want it served with 2 drumsticks ($25.90), half chicken ($26.90), whole chicken ($37.90) or with frog legs. For Qi Xiang Pot, you can also choose the level of spiciness as well. Indecisive like me? Don’t worry! Lex assured us that if we didn’t find the broth spicy enough, he could always make it spicier for us.
We ordered both the Qi Xiang Pot (half chicken) and the Herbal Pot (2 drumsticks). When the bubbling pots were served, we immediately salivated at the delicious herbal fragrance of these unique hot pots.
I quickly took a sip of the broth in the Qi Xiang Pot and for awhile, I wondered if it was really meant to be drunk as a soup. Its consistency is interesting – too thick to be called a broth, yet too thin to be called gravy. We ordered Medium Spicy and the spiciness was just enough to turn the broth into a soup with character. If you are a spicy food lover though, then Medium Spicy is definitely not spicy enough!
My friends had added ee-noodles into the broth and the taste of the ee-noodles after being cooked in the broth reminded me of dark hokkien noodles when we spooned it into our bowls. It was a good choice of addition but being a rice fanatic, I just could not ignore that this rich gravy-soup is the perfect complement to a bowl of rice. I raised my hand to order a bowl.
When the rice was served, I was so surprised that it was high-quality Japanese pearl rice instead of the usual Jasmine rice! What a steal for only $1! It absorbed the gravy extremely well and I regretted that I had only ordered 1 bowl to share because I was very sure I could finish the whole bowl of rice by myself with a gravy like that!
The chicken remained tender in the claypot even after being boiled for more than an hour! You can easily chew the flesh off the bone and I like that the skin of the chicken tasted delicate and not fatty. Lex told us that the chickens were carefully selected to complement the hot pots. They experimented with a few types of chickens and found that fresh chickens from Malaysia gave the best velvety texture for their hot pots without drenching the soup with too much oil.
I could probably be happy with just the chicken, the broth and the rice, but the assorted dishes of hotpot ingredients in the fridge were too tempting not to try!
The hotpot ingredients are $3.50 a plate (the pork slices are $5 a plate) and I really appreciate that they keep their ingredients in a closed door fridge at all times! The staff is also always on standby near the fridge to prepare and refill anything that has been taken. Everything felt very fresh and hygienic to me!
The herbal claypot came highly recommended by my friend and I really like herbal soups so I ordered a Herbal Pot with 2 drumsticks! The Herbal Pot is not the star item of Qi Xiang but it grabbed the hearts of all of us around the table. In fact, some of us preferred it over the heavier Qi Xiang Pot. I could really drink this as a soup. If you have a party of 5 or more people, it is really recommended that you try both pots!
As the taste for both of these pots are rich and flavourful from the start, the added ingredients absorb the broths’ flavours instead of serving the usual role of making the soups tastier. The ingredients become so delicious after spending some time soaking in the broths!
I found myself always looking out for and digging for the meaty Taiwanese sausages in both hotpots because the sweetness and fattiness of the Taiwanese sausages are elevated after swimming in the savoury broths. Definitely order a plate to try!
Overall, I found this hotpot experience unique and interesting. Order two different pots to keep your tastebuds engaged! I personally feel that if we had ordered only one pot, the taste may become a little one-dimensional and overwhelming after awhile because even after more broth was added, the richness of the broth doesn’t really dilute! If you are ordering Qi Xiang Pot, do yourself a favour and order a bowl of rice just for yourself!
- Qi Xiang Pot; unique for its thick broth laden with herbs and spices
- Herbal Pot; a no-nonsense, rich herbal pot for herbal soup fans
- Free flow broth you can request to add at any time
What to Order:
- Pork slices
- Quail eggs
- Beancurd Rolls/Tau Kee
- Taiwanese Sausage
What to Skip:
- Maggi mee (Tip: choose noodles which are more resistant to becoming soggy in the broths!)
- Ice Cream (served free if you dine at Qi Xiang, but if you are the type who cares about the calories you consume, this ice cream is not worth your calories.)
Qi Xiang Hot Pot
Address: 973, Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534725
Nearest MRT Station: Kovan MRT Exit B
Opening hours: 4pm to 1am everyday