Spice World – Haymarket NSW Restaurant Review

Full disclosure, when I recommended this restaurant to my partner, her brother, and her father, I thought I was actually recommending Spicy Joint. Spice, it turns out, was a completely different, if mostly similar, restaurant in the same general geographical area.

Spice World’s physical footprint, unlike that of Spicy Joint, is quite easy to miss, inhabiting the first floor portion of a building on Sussex St with only a little bit of street-level signage that was obscured by a group of Chinese women on my first walk past. The interior of Spice World is quite well-adorned and opulent compared to its relatively nondescript entryway, with high ceilings, living crustaceans in tanks, a high degree of cleanliness, and numerous booths alongside large windows with a view of the street below. There were also two or three private dining areas on the interior of the room with larger tables.

We had a shared large hot pot with mushroom and tomato soup bases. It’s only now while writing this that I am realising the major difference in my childhood hotpot experiences to my adult ones. Hailing from the North, hotpot in our home was always cooked in plain water, with flavour added through the use of personal dipping sauces primarily composed of sesame sauce (麻酱) and fermented bean curd (酱豆腐) or other flavourings. Ever since I’ve been with my current partner, from the first time I sat opposite her mother at family Christmas and kept getting splashed items thrown into the hot pot that was placed far closer to my side of the table (I don’t distinctly remember being told to just keep quiet about it and suck it up, but it definitely felt I was meant to) to all the times we’ve had hotpot at restaurants in Sydney as well as at home just with the two of us, we’ve had a completely different form of hotpot with, different, flavour and sodium laden soup bases in which to boil our ingredients. This is a fundamental change in my life that I’ve been living with for seven years and only realised now.

Digression complete, the soup was ultimately fine, and I think the consensus around the table was that the mushroom soup base was superior, though we did not regret getting two different bases for a few extra dollars. There was an extra charge for sauces (which I, as a later arriver didn’t know about), so we didn’t get any of that.

We watched semi-excitedly as these automated vehicles carried orders to other customers, though when it came to our food it was all delivered to our table by regular humans. We did order a lot of food, perhaps too much for it to make sense to fit onto multiple robots.

The greens and shrooms were not cheap. The basa fillets ($18.90) I felt had a bit of a taste to them, but no one else found this problematic. The pork and chive dumplings (6 for $8.90) were enjoyed.

The meat was fine, but I wonder if it was better and better value at the Dolar Shop. I don’t think there was any clear guidance about the masses of each portion (“1 metre of lamb brisket” isn’t the SI unit for meat measurement). The wagyu striploin dressed barbie, for example, was $45.90 for an unknown quantity of meat, though stated to be 150g in one of their online menus. For reference this was probably the 2nd cheapest beef available on the menu. I didn’t feel particularly fulfilled by the meat, but the abundance of vegetable offset this a bit.

Oranges were exciting, but more exciting were these allegedly savoury peas that were made sweet by the orange juice. They were actually pretty yum.

OVERALL We paid $270 for 4 including 3 beers (teetotal life), which was significantly cheaper than we paid at The Dolar Shop the previous week, I think mostly owing to the significant cost savings of not having to spend $25 per person on soup base alone. I was less impressed by the meat options at Spice World, though the service was good and ultimately the meal was fine.

In summary, Memory Tongue ($45 pp in 2021) was better value for similar quality, whilst Dolar Shop ($85 pp in 2022) was slightly more money for better food. Based on these comparisons I would not go back to Spice World

Spice World
405/411 Sussex St, Haymarket NSW 2000
0406 697 900


Six Po Hot Pot – Burwood NSW Restaurant Review

For years I’ve walked past skewer hot pot restaurants, not really understanding how they worked, until now.

The concept of a skewer hot pot, as I learned through my visit to Six Po Hot Pot in Burwood, is similar to that of a sushi train. All items are arranged on skewers, collected in a self-serve fashion from a central fridge, with items of greater quality or expense attracting a higher skewerage or simply coming in a smaller quantity. Patrons collect their food, boil them at the table, the cost of their meal is calculated afterwards based on the number of empty skewers collected as well as any soup base, sauce, and other cover charges. This was not the experience that I had, because being quite hungry I led my friends down the path of a buffet with unlimited skewerage as well as unskewered foods for the princely sum of $50 pp.

Despite the buffet format of the meal, I did enjoy the pure utility of the skewers in being able to portion out reasonably small quantities of each particular item. Where at a normal hot pot restaurant you would hardly be able to order a single piece of broccoli or a single meat ball, a per-skewer cost of 70 to 90 cents meant that it was absolutely possible to just get a little morsel of something that caught your fancy.

For soup bases we had the chicken and mushroom soup combo ($19.80 paid separately above the $45pp buffet price), which we did not feel were particularly different from one another. Certainly they were topped up from the same kettle.

The beef skewers that came with entire chillis on them were actually quite spicy

Beyond the ample skewer selection we were also able to choose an all-you-can-eat quantity of cooked foods. We partook in some deep fried pork belly (pictured), as well as some deep fried rice cake with brown sugar and sweet ice jelly, all of which were not bad.

All you can eat is certainly a draw card for this restaurant, though for $45 per person we could’ve had 64 skewers each or 320 skewers in total, so I think I ultimately led our group down the wrong path. That’s ok though, the last time we had hot pot together it was like $90 pp.

Featured diners CJP HWJ XWO

Six Po Hot Pot
146 Burwood Rd, Burwood NSW 2134
0416 477 881


Memory Tongue – Chatswood NSW Restaurant Review

I drove through local flooding on the M2 recently to bring you this review of what is possibly the best train station hot pot restaurant north of the Harbour Bridge.

For the reasonably sane price of $266 we were able to fully feed six grown adults ($45 per person), without really skimping on anything that anyone wanted. We chose a centralised large pot format with two options of Chongqing Spicy Soup and Oxtail and Tomato Soup, though individual pots are also available at this restaurant. Despite the fact that all six of us were of Asian descent and likely exposed to spicy foods from a young age, only my colleague WKS was able to fully enjoy the spicy soup. The rest of us quickly gave up and essentially only had the non-spicy soup for the majority of our meal.

Both the standard sliced beef and lamb options were of good quality. We ordered a mixed plate of beef and lamb ($29.50) and additional beef ($16.50). The beef was tender, with a bit of marbling but not much fat external to the muscle. The lamb was also good, with less fat than most other places.

The large golden ball to the left of the image is the giant deep fried glutinous rice ball ($13.50), a sweet deep fried snack similar to the much smaller, usual variety. Though large in volume, the skin of this ball is actually very thin, so the ball is not as substantial a food as it may look. It is a nice snack.

I would not recommend the spicy beef ($13.90), which is very heavily spiced with cumin and chilli, nor would I recommend the shrimp meatballs ($17.80), which I didn’t feel were as special as those at The Dolar Shop.

Beef and coriander balls ($9.50) weren’t really that great. Most of the coriander melted off into the pot, and there was not much of a beef texture within. They also took a really long time to cook, which in itself presents a form of opportunity cost. I wouldn’t get these again.

Similarly to competitor Spice World, Memory Tongue offers some of its meat options draped around naked barbie dolls. There is a price differential between the Barbie Pork Belly Slices ($14.50) and the regular Pork Slices, however no mention of the quantity provided with each order. Though as a group we are well known for ordering things purely for the meme value, it still would’ve been nice to know exactly what we were paying for this display.

There’s much of the meal that I haven’t directly mentioned. Those elements – the vegetables and tofu offerings – were absolutely fine, with good range and value. $45 per person at Memory Tongue left us feeling satisfied and full, and though they posted a closing time of 10PM they let us stay until 11. It was a good meal, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back.

Four tongues/five.

Memory Tongue Hotpot Chatswood (舌尖記憶重慶火鍋)
Shop 66, Podium Level 3, Chatswood Interchange, Chatswood NSW 2067
0420 437 880



YX Yuxiang Mini Hot Pot – Haymarket NSW Hotpot Review

Our bank accounts are very modest, and when my girlfriend suggested we go to the Dolar Shop for hotpot I very skillfully redirected us to YX Mini Hot Pot, a competent and reasonable alternative situated across the road.

One of the things I really like about YX Mini Hotpot are the semi-private booths that they offer. The interior is quite dark, and the spacious booths mean that you can enjoy your meal in private away from prying eyes.

We enjoyed YX Mini Hot Pot’s various hotpot bases. I chose the dual-base with preserved vegetable and fish (酸菜) and chili. I liked both bases but I wish that the fish and chilli base could be paired with a more neutral base like the mushroom base or the bone broth base. Unfortunately the combinations available for the dual broths were limited and I had to settle for two tasty broths.

My partner picked the mushroom base and the tomato base. The mushroom base was light and shroomy, and the tomato base was quite sweet. Both were quite good.

We enjoyed the assorted mushrooms and the bok choy. My partner particularly liked the way the oyster mushrooms were cut, which were flat and thin. One thing I would mention is that the bok choy was cut in a way where the stem and root end were completely removed, leaving only the leaf. I don’t know why they would have done this, as I quite like the stem part. As I was typing this my partner informed me that bok choy is her favourite vegetable to wash “as they have nice broad stems, and there’s not much room to hide dirt, and the leaves are easy to peel and detach.”

I can recommend both the fried tofu skin and the fresh tofu. Both were great at absorbing the taste of the soup.

As we are budget eaters, we ordered the normal sliced beef and sliced lamb. There were differing cuts and grades of wagyu on offer, however, for the discerning and wide walleted diner. The beef was very good and fresh. The lamb we found to be a bit lamby, however acceptable when cooked in the chilli soup base.

The assorted balls (meat and seafood) I thought was a bit missable. It was nice that they offered fresh stuff as opposed to supermarket freezer stuff, but they didn’t really wow me. If I had my time again I would not get these and get more meat or other seafood.

In conclusion: We really enjoyed YX Mini Hot Pot. We paid around $120 to satisfy two humans, which I think is a reasonable amount to pay for fresh ingredients. The ingredients were much fresher than Legend Hotpot Buffet in Emerald Square Burwood, however more expensive. We paid a similar amount at Chong Qing Ji Gong Bao in Kingsford, which is also a good option a bit further out from the city. I can recommend, however I can’t say anything about YX’s more premium offerings.

Yuxiang Mini Hot Pot Haymarket
1/102-108 Hay St, Haymarket NSW 2000
(02) 8065 9932


The Dolar Shop – Haymarket NSW Restaurant Review

The Dolar Shop is, to date, the most luxurious and expensive hot pot restaurant I’ve ever eaten at. We paid around $70 per person for a full hot pot meal with 7 attendees. The restaurant was operated in the personal hot pot format, and so each person needed to fork out for individual soup bases.

The quality of the wagyu was truly extreme, and each briefly-boiled mouthful was a great experience. The sauce station provided ample choices, and there were lower-yield complimentary options including fresh fruit and matcha and vanilla soft serve.


I went back to The Dolar Shop with my friends HWJ XWO and CJP, and we managed to spend even more ($85 pp) this time. Key differences from this visit were that we, by choice, had a lot more vegetable and tofu. Wagyu was the only beef available with no cheaper options on the menu – I’m not sure if this was the case the first time around. I had the Exquisite Silver Soup on the recommendation of HWJ and XWO, which was a peppery soup containing some pork tripe and chicken broth, quite good, but quite expensive – I’m not sure that a plain soup would’ve been that much worse.

They also mixed some initial sauces for us tableside, with the option to also create our own at the sauce bar, which I don’t remember happening the first time, and the dessert changed to quite a good strawberry and yoghurt flavoured soft serve.

The Dolar Shop, being extremely expensive, is really only a high end option for a special occasion. There are much plenty of cheaper hot pot places across Sydney that are almost as good.

The Dolar Shop Sydney
Shop 5-7 1909 Dining Precinct, Level 3
Market City, 13 Hay St, Haymarket NSW 2000
0487 886 677

Featured Colleagues: WKS, JZHW, BC, AL, JO