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Hotpot dinner at Auciel

Five ladies, one hot date. Thanks to Wee Ling‘s initiative, we found ourselves at the door of Auciel rather early in the evening by Parisian standard – 6.30pm – but we did not want to risk losing our table and then having to go on a long queue, such is the reputation of this small eatery in the 11th arrondissement. Their specialty – (individual) hotpot – is a favourite among the Chinese community. They also serve cooked dishes but let’s face it, why would anyone do that in a hotpot restaurant?

Hotpot dinner

Hotpot dinner

The concept is pretty straight forward here. You could order a specific hotpot ingredient set (e.g. with meat, with seafood, vegetarian), or à la carte (pick and mix your ingredients), or go the buffet style (as much as you could eat, any ingredient selection). There are also three broth options: the clear broth, the satay broth (slightly spicy) and the Szechuan broth (hot, hot, hot). Since everyone gets an individual pot, no worry about finding the one right broth for everyone at the table. Win!

We were hungry and wanted flexibility, so of course we went for the buffet option. An order sheet was given, which could be used to order ingredients up to 5 rounds. All we had to do was marked the quantity of the different ingredients we would like to have at each round. The first round made an interesting exercise of ordering small amount of just about everything, so we could test which we liked best in our hotpot and reorder in the following rounds.

Hotpot dinner

Hotpot dinner

Hotpot dinner

When our chosen ingredients were served, we started dunking a little of this, a little of that, into our simmering broth and the heat was cranked up to cook them. A couple of plastic bottles of sauces were also made available – not sure what they were exactly but they were bean-based sauces as far as I could tell – and they made lovely dips for our food. While we ate, we chatted. When the baskets/bowls started emptying, we strategised for our next round of order. When our broth was running low, the wait staff automatically came by and top the pots up.

A couple of notes: one, while the system is an ordered-buffet system, be careful not to overestimate the amount of ingredients, as the footnote (strangely only in Chinese and not in French too) specified a fine for food wasted in accordance to weight; two, the staff themselves actually only served an estimation of ingredients and not exactly what we’ve asked for, which we debated if it was good or not, so sometimes certain things may actually not make it to the table… you’d have to ask again.

Hotpot dinner

Hotpot dinner

Time flew by, as we worked through three rounds of orders and broth top-up. Before we knew it, it was nearly 10pm. The queue that we were concerned with earlier on didn’t materialise, as people came and went at a happy pace. We pondered if this was due to the fact that they’ve recently opened a second (larger) shop near Republique, or because the end of April seemed too warm a weather to be eating hotpot? Or I suspect it may have something to do with their new policies? They’ve recently done away with no-reservation rule as well as time limit per seating.

We definitely ate well, for a price of less than €20 per person (not including drinks), and there are a couple of friends I need to introduce this place to as well. Could be a good hang-out restaurant for the next winter… One major plus here is the control of ventilation. Often, in similar restaurants, odour could cling on rather stubbornly to clothes etc but not here, despite a full house in action.

97 rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris
Métro: Charonne
Tel: +33 (0)1 43 72 19 08
Daily 12.00pm – 3.00pm (except Wednesday), 6.00pm – 11.30pm

New location:
19 boulevard St Martin, 75003 Paris
Métro: Republique (exit 7)
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 74 61 94
Daily 12.00pm – 3.00pm (except Monday), 6.00pm – 11.00pm

Category: Food & Drink, Paris

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4 scribbles & notes

  1. medca says:

    aha steamboat ;)

  2. wl says:

    hehe, just stumbled upon this. happy you liked it, we need to go back soon !

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