Decorated from floor to ceiling with an authentic “Chinatown” feel, Yama Hotpot & Grill is one of the first restaurants in town to introduce the concept of hotpot. I had the pleasure of tasting, in what should ideally be termed as an “experience”, their authentic Chinese hotpot.
Hotpot is, simply put, a Chinese cooking method, prepared with a simmering pot of soup stock at the dining table. Hotpot is a buffet of ingredients, prepared carefully and pre-sliced into thin portions that will cook quickly and consistently in the bubbling broth, giving the customers the feel of cooking their own meals, and that is precisely what Yama hotpot does so well.
Picture a table with an induction top in the centre with a pot split into spicy and clear stock and surrounded by over 20 different types of ingredients including varieties of chicken, beef, fish, vegetables and crab (yes you read that right, delicious, whole crab!). If you want to customise the stocks or ingredients a little bit more, then you have a selection of over 16 different spices and herbs. These can be added to the pot itself or to a particular serving after it has been cooked. So that your friends who love everything extremely spicy (me!) can do so without ruining it for the rest of the group. But come on, a little spice doesn’t hurt anybody! Oh, and did we mention that you get unlimited refills and ingredients?!
Shamit always feels that restaurants have the power to unite people, and some restaurants are even able to create entire communities and neighbourhoods around them. “We wanted to give an experience to our customers where they can come, sit back, relax and enjoy the meal with their families, take a smoke break or maybe even go for a walk and then come back again to continue their meals” he shares. Shamit emphasises on his wish of bringing a community feel to the restaurant. Yama Hotpot is intended for those who want to spend quality time with friends and family.
Speaking further of his inspiration behind opening the restaurant, Shamit had to go back to the roots of Hobnob café, his first venture into the industry. Shamit along with his business partner of Chinese origin decided to bring selected items that are common in Chinese households to cater to the already large Chinese expats working in Dhaka and for the locals looking to experience something different. Launched in 2016, Hobnob Café gathered rave reviews for their beef noodle soup (which is a must-try if you haven’t already) and a wide selection of desserts (oh the Tiramisu!). After 3 years of success, the owners decided to bring the same impact of community that a traditional hotpot restaurant would bring and expanded their offering by launching Yama Hotpot & Grill in 2019, just one floor above Hobnob. With an already existing base of loyal customers courtesy Hobnob, their new venture was an instant hit and had, since then, become a place where friends and family spend hours talking and eating.
What separates a great restaurant from a good one is not just its food, décor or the service, but by how you lose track of time when you’re there. That is precisely what happened when I lost track of time while I was eating and talking with my crew. The variety of ingredients often means there is something for everyone. I personally love spicy food, and their spicy broth was exactly what my palette needed. The clear soup was a complete surprise to me as I equally loved it. Their dumplings and chicken items go perfectly with the spicy soup while all veggie items mix really well with the clear soup. Among the seafood items, their crab was so tender and delicious that it deserves a separate mention itself.
Besides the food there, what will stand out is, of course, their top-notch service. The servers know their ingredients very well and are kind enough to recommend ingredient and spice combinations. To top that, I had the privilege to check out their kitchen, which was exceptionally clean. Yama hotpot did not disappoint, and that went on to show the dedication of the staff to maintain high quality.
In short, Yama Hotpot and Grill is an experience that everyone should have. Delicious food, numerous options and combinations, high standard of service, cleanliness and more importantly, the feeling of togetherness while eating is what makes this restaurant unique and stand out from the rest.