Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Different Type of Hot Pot

On a cold day, it's comforting to bundle up in sweaters and slurp on chicken soup for a hearty meal to warm you up. Whenever we're sick, we're surely served a bowl of chicken soup. I even have a go-to recipe for a chicken soup that's low in calories and sure to make me heal faster. In many forms, chicken soup has had its benefits in the nutrition and comfort food department.

How would you feel if there is such a thing as a chicken soup that not only contains organic, high-quality ingredients with a lot of nutrients but also something that has also been our best friend in the beauty department? I actually had that chance a few weeks ago when I tried what is known as a Beauty Collagen Hot Pot, which - yes  you got that right, contains collagen, an important ingredient in a lot of beauty products.

Bijin Nabe by Tsukada Nojo gives us an entirely different hot pot experience with its Beauty Collagen Hot Pot. This signature dish is served at Bijin Nabe by Tsukada Nojo, located at the S Maison at Conrad Hotel. This restaurant has a farm-to-table concept, the ingredients are delivered on the very day, fresh and organically grown -with no harmful pesticides, hormones, or chemicals the body doesn't need.

So, anyway, let's talk about the star, the Beauty Collagen Hot Pot:

The chicken used for the broth is the Jidori chicken, a special breed of chicken that's meatier and tastier and richer in collagen. They are grown free-range with good care and a specially-watched diet (again, no hormones!). Cooking the chicken and producing the broth is an 18-hour process of delicate stewing (yes, 18 hours, that's like more than overnight), making the essence of the meat and bones dissolved into the stock.

that pudding when heated melts into a broth

The broth that's presented to you actually isn't liquid-like at first but it looks like a pudding (actually, when it was brought out to us, it kind of looked liked taho).

It would be then heated until that pudding melts into a milky white broth, shown above.

We got a taste of the pure broth in taster cups. The taste of the chicken is very flavorful. It sort of reminded me of essence of chicken but less medicine-like. The chicken meat was melt-in-the-mouth, flaking off the bone. We were provided yuzukoshu seasoning (a paste made of chili pepper, yuzu peel, and salt), depending on our preference. The yellow one was sweet, the green spicy, and the red extra spicy. I personally liked the taste of the green one. It was a bit refreshing with a bit of kick in the end. If you would want the red one, I suggest to put just a little though because the spice is very potent.

The hot pots we know usually have us adding the other ingredients randomly or as we please and letting them cook. Here,  there is a process and specific order in adding the vegetables and seafood and time spent for the ingredients to cook. This process also alters the flavor of the broth, which we take sips to distinguish the flavor,

The vegetables were a sight to behold and arranged prettily it's almost like an art. Well, it is actually an art. After the veggies were served (and eaten, the greens and enoki being my favorites), the broth had a different taste, with the strong chicken flavor mellowing down and the flavors of the mushrooms, greens, radish, and zucchini coming through. Veggies are best eaten with the leek oil but I still liked them with the yuzukoshu paste,

The seafood was served last and shrimp peeled for you, if you requested (since I don't really like getting my hands into shrimp shells). The broth changed into a different, richer flavor. The leftover broth was mixed with rice for a thick and comforting rice porridge. I skipped this part to make room for dessert though. According to my tablemates, it was quite good and comforting,

Since there is a ritual involving how the hotpot would be cooked, the eating process was carefully paced so our tummies were given time to rest and digest so I was full, but not really bursting type of full. A portion can actually serve 2 people, so you can go here with your friend or someone you know who would love hotpot (I'm taking my friend here one time).  Aside from hot pot, you can try out their appetizers like their salad and maximum eggplant (which I highly recommend to try, even if you're not an eggplant fan). Be sure to leave some room for dessert, too because they have great selections.

Try this as a post-workout recovery meal with all the good protein and organic veggies or try it on days when you are craving for something warm for your belly. The farm-to-table concept gives us a healthy dose of good-quality produce raised without chemicals, additives, fertilizers, and hormones so we get the best quality ingredients in every bite.

Let me know your Bijin Nabe experience. Did you have a special sauce combo used? Let me know and I'll try that when I get there.

Bijin Nabe by Tsukada Nojo is located at the 2F of S Maison at Conrad Hotel. Visit their website at or check them out at Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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