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Fresh and well presented, but overall, over-priced.
I wouldn't have minded paying for the exorbitant food (yes, quality does come at a price after all), but charging for DIPPING SAUCES (RMB 8 a pop) and the SOUP BASE (RMB 30 per person) is kinda pushing it, in my opinion.
The shot of vinegar slushy is my favourite in the meal. This is one of those places you hope and pray they can maintain the level of quality, freshness and service.
Only major complaint is seeing on of the servers clipping her nails by the window. Sigh.
We loved it! My three teenage sons and I had a fabulous evening in this new restaurant. The food was excellent and of course incredibly fresh - they have a beautiful little garden right out front! The interiors were gorgeous and the servers were incredibly friendly! Next time I am in Shanghai - I will definitely be going back to Qimin!
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Total reviews: 7
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In theory, there’s no reason to spend a lot of money on hotpot. It’s supposed to be a way to flavor up mediocre ingredients by boiling them in hot oil. But the hotpot at Qimin Organic Hot Pot is incredible, and justifies what one might initially see as an absurd markup. Organic? Pah! What fool spends ¥400 on hotpot? We did, and we don’t regret it.
For starters, the restaurant isn’t tacky like other fine dining Chinese restaurants often are. Instead of neon lights and sci-fi furniture, the renovated house has warm ochre walls, tasteful photographs and semi-communal tables garnished with flat burners and wooden dipping spoons. The service was spot on, and it brought us some artistic hotpot.
The menu is extensive, featuring a wide variety of meats and vegetables grown at an organic farm associated with the restaurant. You can order à la carte, but we went with the couple’s menu for ¥488 that allows you to pick two soup bases. We preferred the dark Sichuan-style soup with leeks to the tomato-oxtail broth, but both were fragrant and complex enough to stand alone.
We had seafood, meat and vegetable courses, all of which came out daintily arranged in beautiful wicker baskets. The oysters are particularly plump and juicy, and the thick slices of white cod are fishy without being too fishy. Both the thinly-sliced beef rib end and the grain-fed pork are surprisingly flavorful, and retain their flavor even after being briefly cooked. We also love their dipping sauces, particularly the lemongrass sauce with apple purée and the house Qimin sauce that’s seasoned to your taste with green onion, garlic and red pepper.
■ Pete Sweeney
Hot Pot, Hot Spot
We weren't quite sure about hopping from the steamy outdoors to a steamy hot pot, but entranced by the scent of potent broths, all our doubts soon disappeared. Qimin's simple menu of sets ranging from YY120-220 was a welcome change from the excessively comprehensive lists of soups and meats in most hot pot places. For starters we had the Sesame Chicken Salad on Cellophane Noodle (YY35), drizzled with light and flavorful sesame dressing, which we diligently cleaned from our bowls. For the main meal, we each opted for the YY150 set which came with a seasonal combination platter--kimchi, mushrooms with herbs, Sichuan-style cold chicken and a sweet deviled egg, each item piquing a different taste bud and awakening the palate for the upcoming meal. A chicken consommé and tomato ox tail soup came next and, as it rolled into a boil, a two-tiered tray bearing thin lean slices of beef, lamb or pork and assorted organic vegetables, mushrooms and tofu was set before us. The presentation was impeccable, the epitome of beauty and simplicity. The flavors were clean and simple. The broth enhanced the natural flavors of the all-organic ingredients, nurtured in Qimin's very own farm in Kunshan, while the Qimin sauce served as a perfect complement. To top off this light yet substantial meal, an organic vinegar drink was served frozen in a shot glass. Brewed using an ancient process and meant to aid digestion, this sweet, sour shot was a surprisingly refreshing way to end an almost perfect experience. Just make sure you drink your soup or at least have a spare YY35 for a drink as satiating your thirst comes with a price--there's no free water here. -Sabine Chichioco