I love nabe. I love shabu shabu. Both are Japanese versions of a hot pot. Recently, I finally got a chance to try the Taiwanese version of hot pot at Sweet Home Cafe in Mo'ili'ili. My brother and his girlfriend told us about this place recently and wanted us to try it out. I looked up the reviews on Yelp and most people seemed to say the same thing: the food is excellent, the free dessert is a big bonus, and the people who work there are rude.
If you need to wait for a table, sign your name on the note pad hanging from the door. Very important.
The menu is simple - choose from 13 broths on the menu. You can either order your own broth, or share with your friends/family. We ordered two broths - the house special, and the healthy herb (the waiter said the healthy herb is their most popular).
Here's the house special - this broth is similar to the broth commonly found in oxtail soup. This was my favorite of the two.
Here is the healthy herb. I didn't care for this broth, mostly due to its color. Although it looks creamy, it is very light and supposedly "healthy". But for me, the color itself was a turn off ( I don't like creamy foods) so I ate from the house special broth.
We then placed our order for the meat from our waiter - beef, pork, and lamb (they also offer beef tongue). Then, you have to walk up to the front of the restaurant and select your other items from 3 refrigerators filled with plates of portioned food - veggies, tofu, fish/shrimp balls, noodles, etc. It's like Genki sushi - they charge you according to the color of the plate. Take as much or as little as you like.
Here is a pic of the lamb, fish balls, and shrimp balls
Pictured below are the beef, pork, udon noodles, and clams
Don't forget to select your dipping sauces. You get to choose from around 15 sauces. I chose the sesame and house sauce. Both were good. There is no limit on the quantity of sauces you can take.
Since I already knew a complimentary dessert was coming, I purposely did not eat to my heart's content. The dessert is a Taiwanese shave ice. Taiwanese shave ice is shave ice with a brown sugar syrup. It was topped with a coffee gelatin, tapioca (small balls and the bigger ones), almond tofu, and azuki beans. The four of us shared this, although I think I could have eaten one by myself (it was that good!).
Although many of the reviewers on Yelp thought the wait staff (including "Aunty") were rude, we did not experience that at all. If anything, the employees were arguing amongst themselves.
Helpful hints for a pleasurable dining experience: dress comfortably (it's hot and humid in there), be open to sharing a table if it's crowded, remove the saran wrap from the empty plates, don't fill yourself up too much on the hot pot because dessert is on its way, and don't take it personal if the wait staff are rude or harsh to you.
Sweet Home Cafe
2334 S. King St. / 947-3707 / no reservations accepted