One clear fact we learned about hot pot is that it’s typically eaten communally in Taiwan. Diners would either come as a couple or in groups to share a large simmering pot of broth between them on a large spacious table.
Since most hot pot restaurants don’t see it as a one-person event, it can be pretty awkward to have dozens of locals looking at you in the restaurant thinking “look at this poor foreigner – no one joined him”.
However, there is good news, we’ve found a place that accommodates those traveling alone in Taipei who want to experience hot pot food.
It’s called Hongjojo, a spicy hot pot restaurant that has booths for one where everyone gets their own individual and personalized hot pot.
There are two branches, we visited the one that’s just a 7-minuet walk from Taipei City Hall station. The other branch is just a 4-minuet walk from Sun Yet-Sen Memorial Hall station.
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It’s spacious inside with rows of tables for groups (for up to four people), couples, and single booths for individuals.
We visited on a weekday and saw it get fairly busy throughout the evening, although there were always a few tables available. We also saw several chairs outside by a TV which gave us the impression it can get very busy over the weekend.
As for the rows of single booths, it reminded us of the style of Ichiran Ramen which has a similar eating alone concept.
We didn’t eat at these booths as we came as a couple on this occasion, yet we both agreed on how natural and comfortable it would feel to eat alone here.
Ordering at a hotpot restaurant can be confusing for foreigners, especially when you don’t have a local friend to help you.
That’s why we were happy to find that they have an English-friendly menu which the staff was so kind to proactively hand out to us as we got to our table.
However, this place has made it conveniently straightforward to order as everything is mainly in the form of set meals. This means you need to select one item from each paragraph which is divided by the + sign:
Explaining the Menu
Since the menu can be a little confusing, we’ve made a better description below on how to order:
1. By default, you get mala (spicy) as one side of your hot pot, and you have to choose one other flavor for the other side.
If you don’t want all your chosen flavor of broth (meaning not to have a divided pot with mala), then then you can choose Double-flavor.
– If you choose the mala, which is a spicy broth – you get the option to set the spiciness strength from 2 to 10.
2. Next, you need to choose either the vegetable combo or the mushroom.
3. The next option requires you to choose the seafood combo, braise organs combo, or the meatballs combo.
4. This big section is actually three options crammed together for you to choose from – with each section ending in “(choose one)”. Take note that this is also where the prices for your entire order are shown – (at the top of each section by the respective Chinese descriptions).
5. The next option allows you to pick between different types of noodles or rice.
6. The last section is a dessert which is typically an ice cream or a pudding.
Making your Dipping Sauce
After you’ve ordered, it’s time to head over to the sauce ingredients, herbs, and spices to make your dipping sauce.
It’s totally down to you how you like it, and you’re spoilt for choice depending on if this is your thing.
If you’re not a fan of dipping sauces, then we’ve got an insider’s tip for you. One of the friendly staff suggested we mix the mala broth with the spring onions, and we did just that!
We felt it was an awesome recommendation as it worked quite well, especially for the beef as it brought all the flavors out.
What We Ordered
Here’s everything we ordered from their English-friendly menu.
Our broth Flavors
On the left: Mala/vegetable broths.
On the right: Mala/Chinese herb broths.
Mala is a spicy broth flavored with chiles and Sichuan peppercorns. It contains tofu and boiled duck blood which is all-you-can-eat – it’s also the restaurant’s signature broth.
Since everyone gets their own individual twin-sided hot pot, we both ordered it as we wanted different levels of spiciness. I was a bit squeamish to try the duck blood at first, but it ended being surprisingly tasty, so we’d recommend you try it since it’s their specialty.
The vegetable and Chinese herb flavors are lighter broths. As for the Chinese herb broth, it’s made with Chinese medicine that may also include dried red dates or goji berries.
These are Chinese herbs that are good for you, but you don’t have to eat them as they’re just there to improve the rich flavoring.
Left tray set: Vegetable combo / Sliced Matsusaka pork / Seafood combo ($588)
Right tray set: Mushroom combo / Meatballs combo / Sliced chuck rib ($588)
We loved how our platter sets were presented on a British breakfast-style tray. It not only saved a lot of table space but also made it easy to pick out our ingredients.
The seafood platter includes pangasius, sea bream, sea bass, two grass shrimps, clams, and scallops.
As for the meatballs combo, this platter included fish dumplings, egg dumplings, meatballs, shrimp dumplings. We found this platter to be juicy but salty – which reminded us of seafood sticks.
The Sliced Matsusaka pork was springy and high in quality, making it enjoyable to eat.
Rice Cake and handmade noodles
As for the staple food section of our sets, we chose a bowl of rice cake and hand-made noodles. Both of which were absolutely delicious after being absorbed in the spicy mala broth.
Our mushroom plate contained a wide range of different types of mushrooms complemented with a piece of broccoli.
The vegetable platter was a comprehensive set of fresh vegetables which included cabbage, Qingjiang cuisine, tomatoes, mushrooms, and seaweed.
The sliced chuck rib beef is tender and rich in chewy texture. To cook the meat, you’ll only need it to simmer for a minute or two on a medium heat setting.
You can easily control the heat as it only has three temperature settings – small, medium, and large.
When the beef is cooked, don’t forget to use your dipping sauce to enhance its natural flavor.
Once you’re finished, and you’re not totally full at this point, try drinking the broth as a soup. This is because it’ll become a tasty and nutritional soup after you’ve cooked all the ingredients in it.
On the left – Brown sugar bubble tea ($70), but only ($49) when ordered with your set.
On the right – Plum juice ($60), but only ($39) when ordered with your set.
The plum juice was a little sour but we enjoyed it as a refreshing drink that went well with salty food.
The bubble milk tea wasn’t sweet at all. In fact, it had a deliciously creamy milk taste that matched the spicy hot pot food.
Our only gripe was the bubble tea wasn’t on the English menu which felt disappointing to see the locals ordering it from the Chinese menu. Luckily, the staff can speak English, so it was pretty easy to order it.
You get one small dessert to enjoy at the end of your hot pot as part of your set. The dessert you get seems to be a random choice of two desserts that change each month. As for our two sets, we got a small pot of tiramisu ice cream and a black jelly with cream.
The staff did tell us that they change the desserts every month to be another mix of random dessert choices.
Nevertheless, these two desserts made a sweet ending as our stuffed bellies seemed to of had room for.
All in all, Hongjojo makes an ideal go-to spot to eat hot pot alone without the need for any help since it’s English-friendly here. On top of that, they’ve also made it pretty easy and straightforward to order like a local.
As for their comprehensive platters and generous meat portions, we’d say $588 for each of us is a pretty standard price tag for a hot pot restaurant.
Will we go back?
Most likely yes. We both agreed that we wouldn’t have a problem eating alone here since they’ve made it accommodating to do so.
Not all their food items are on the English menu, however, we got the impression that this restaurant is only just beginning to open up to be more foreigner-friendly. Therefore we feel hopeful that we can find and order more items from their comprehensive main Chinese menu.
Telephone: (02) 8786-7299
English address: No. 9, Ln. 42, Yixian Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei.
Chinese address: 110台北市信義區逸仙路42巷9號
Closest MRT: Taipei City Hall, exit 2
Telephone: (02) 2772-3938
English address: No. 7, Ln. 131, Yanji St., Da’an District, Taipei.
Chinese address: 106台北市大安區延吉街131巷7號
Closest MRT: Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, exit 1
🗓️ Visited: April 2021 – Taipei.Expats