Aroma Street in Wolli Creek is set amongst a range of restaurants with prosaic names like "Korean BBQ", "Chinese Restaurant" and "Taiwanese restaurant" mainly catering to the residents of the surrounding apartment blocks. At Aroma Street you can fill up your bowl with your choice of hot pot items before handing your bowl over to the staff where they will cook it for you. It's perfect for a quick meal or solo diners.
I had a brilliant idea. Okay it wasn't so much brilliant as dumb. I was too busy to look up Aroma Street (Monica suggested it for our dinner) so I got dressed up in a dress, heels and a robe (long story, I'll tell you about it another day). When I walked in I saw that I had hideously overdressed for what was ostensibly a very casual restaurant that looked like a fast food place (it's like a Subway franchise but without that distinct Subway smell). I felt a bit silly and am now considering starting a "dress code" note on each review post ;)
Shrugging off any doubt and ignoring the stares, I wait for Monica and Marco to arrive. Monica comes channelling a 90's Salt and Pepa vibe while Marco was channelling a hipster brewer complete vibe because well he is a hipster brewer.
Mr NQN arrives a few moments later after parking the car and now that everyone is here we take a closer look at the service bar. Large plastic bowls and tongs sit at one end. You pick what you want to eat and place it in your bowl. There are noodles galore and you sort of have to guess what everything is. Marco takes what looks like fettuccine but is in fact tofu made to look like fettucine. Monica goes mainly for vegetables and thinly sliced meat.
There's a range of konjac (calorie free and high fibre) noodles, starches-I grab some hokkien noodles and some green tea noodles and make separate bowls for me and Mr NQN. For him I add tofu in lots of different forms be it the skins, puffs, squares and bricks.
For my bowl I love the vegetables as well as seafood balls made out of fish paste, striped balls filled with roe and har gow prawn dumplings.
When we pay they ask us what sort of soup we want and there is a choice of four. Malatang is the spicy soup base (spicy and numbing) and there's also laksa, tomato and chillypot. We go for the malatang and the laksa soups. The two bowls are $37 which are a steal and we get a buzzer to let us know when our food is ready.
Shortly afterwards our buzzers go off and I take our steaming hot bowls to the condiments counter where you can add garlic sauce, chilli sauce, sesame paste or sugar (or charge your phone). I season mine with the chilli sauce.
Alas they've run out of sesame sauce so another diner at the sauce counter asks for more and lets me know that she requested it. They take a while and I know I'm missing out on scintillating conversation so after a few minutes waiting for the sesame sauce to appear I give up and take my bowl to our table. A few minutes later the other customer waiting for the sesame sauce comes up to the table with a bowl of sauce and asks me if I'd like some and then serves me some which is very sweet. Maybe she thought I'd escaped from somewhere because I was wearing my robe and that I needed some help, I'm not sure.
I dig in to the laksa soup. The soup is so robust and creamy spicy. The tofu pieces in it are varied and no two types are alike. I love the har gows, enoki mushrooms and the tofu cubes and the green tea noodles.
The malatang bowl is also tasty but not particularly numbing or spicy and out of the two broths, the laksa is definitely our favourite as it is more complex in flavour. I do like the balls in this although I don't think the hokkien noodles go as well in this soup (and they'd obviously go better in the laksa).
Mr NQN prefers this type of hot pot to regular hot pot because he hates cooking and always loses things at the bottom of the soup pot and never knows how long anything should cook for. For him this is like a delicious laksa but with everything that he likes in it. I like this type of hot pot because it is fast and tasty but I still prefer the sociable aspect of communal hot pots over a table and being able to cook things myself.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you prefer to cook your own hot pot? Do you lose things in the hot pot bowl? And would you find a dress code note on each review helpful?
This meal was independently paid for.
6/35 Arncliffe St, Wolli Creek NSW 2205
Monday to Saturday 11am–10:45pm
No bookings. And don't dress fancy.