Article By Jorge Cartaya
No.101, Youyi West Road
( 碑林区友谊西路101号 )
10:30am – 11:30pm
Mr. Phuket is a modern, trendy Thai-flavored seafood hotpot restaurant located opposite the Small Wild Goose Pagoda. Yes, you read that right: Thai-flavored hotpot. It’s an exciting fusion of the classic Chinese hotpot with the tropical flavors of Thailand as the main theme of the soup in the pot itself. So if you enjoy eating hotpot (and let’s be honest, 99.99% of the people in this country absolutely love it), this is definitely a cool place to check out. Not only are the flavors new and bold, but the seafood is insanely fresh; the shrimp I ordered were still alive when they brought them out to the table! They also carry live oysters, mussels, scallops and clams (though fortunately these aren’t still writhing around by the time they reach your table like the shrimp). Bear in mind, I’m not much of a hotpot lover, and yet this place was definitely enjoyable for me. Needless to say, in a landlocked city thousands of kilometers away from the sea, this level of freshness is extremely rare and says much about the dedication of the owners in bringing you a quality seafood experience.
Not too far from Xiaozhai, the restaurant sports a great location right on Youyixilu (as opposed to the oh so many other restaurants that are hidden deep within the catacombs of this city’s many malls), with a view of the Small Wild Goose Pagoda park. Once you go in the restaurant, you’ll be greeted by the tangy, citrusy aromas of Thai cuisine emanating from the many boiling pots of deliciousness steaming away atop the tables. Pause a moment to take in the décor, and you might find yourself thinking you’re in some chic new urban spot in New York City, minus the fancy cocktails and artsy fartsy conversations, of course, plus some cute Chinglish attempts at putting words together.
Once you’re at your table, you’ll have your trusty fuwuyuan guiding you through the menu, which will seem familiar if you’ve been to hotpot places before. They will also cook everything for you so you can just sit back and chow down. You can choose from individual portions of live seafood and veggies for the hotpot, as well as Thai rice sides and Thai-themed sashimi. Thankfully, the menu also has English translations, though some may be unfamiliar to most people unless they’ve majored in marine biology or Latin (and yes, I mean you, PortunusTrituberculatus). You could also just get one of the combos that include a mix of beautifully presented seafood, meatballs and veggies. Whatever you do, make sure you try the Mr. Shrimp sashimi; it was delicious in ways that my mouth couldn’t comprehend and my words can’t describe.
The only real disappointment is that they don’t have any good cocktails. Tried the mojito and…well, just don’t order it. Ever. Just have a beer or some fruit juice and enjoy the great hotpot that these flavor wizards have conjured up (you can totally drink the soup too, it’s refreshing!). You should expect to pay about 200RMB per person, which is a very reasonable price when you realize how incredibly fresh everything is. That being said, if traditional Thai cuisine is what you want, or you aren’t a fan of seafood, then this isn’t the place for you. If you want something you’ve never had before, then you need to check out Mr. Phuket.