Go-In Hotpot Train - Get on board!

Go-In Hotpot Train - 31-39 Gouger Street, Adelaide

Always wanting to try new food experiences, I'd been hounding my friend for over a year to take me (Nathan) to Hot Pot. Of course, I could have gone by myself, but when you've got that friend, who's got a platinum members card (great discount, but also shows how much he visits), you want to go with an expert and get it right. 

Go-In, Hotpot, Asian, Adelaide, Share Plates, Gouger Street, Chinatown,
The feast
Finally, we all found a day that we could have a lunch and headed to Go-In Hot Pot on Gouger St. My friend starts telling us how on a Friday and Saturday night the line up is out the door and you'll have to wait a few hours if you want to get a seat. This excites my taste buds some more - something so popular must be good. On a weekday lunch time, it's pretty quiet with four tables eating. We take our seats and immediately begin looking at a menu that is a little confusing for us first timers. We're then walked through the process, which is basically a 'choose your own adventure' but with delicious treats! it went a little something like this.....
  • Choose your soup base. This time we chose, on recommendation, the Tom Yum base. There are other options, including some with three chilli marks. I'll remember this for next time.  
  • Choose your meat(s). Again, following our seasoned veteran, we choose three serves of the beef fillet. Again, we all note there are lots of options including chicken, pork neck, tofu and various offals.  
  • Next, choose your noodles. You've got a few choices, including fresh or instant. We're told instant is the go today, but a friend and I talk about trying some of the fresh noodles next time.  
  • Choose your additions. We're then told we should choose a few veggies, so we settle on some Chinese cabbage and Enoki mushrooms. Again, lots and lots of options, but we are mostly meat lovers so we stick to just the two.  
Once our different food adventures are sorted we get the attention of a staff member and order. We add water and tea on the side. Again, the tea is a recommendation. Not much individualism here! The tables are small and cozy, which is great for group conversation. I begin to see how it's popular for friends and family to sit, chat and eat.

Go-In, Hotpot, Asian, Adelaide, Share Plates, Gouger Street, Chinatown,
The sauces

We're then told that we've got to get up and choose our sauces. Ok, so we all get up like the good sheep we are and follow our guide over to a vast array of sauces on a bench in the middle of the restaurant. Sauces include soy, chilli oil, a house made bbq sauce, satay, sesame and many many more. There's also sides including crushed peanuts, chopped spring onions and fried chopped onions.

What this all adds up to is a lot of choice and a lot of ability to customise your meal to your own tastes. Challenging the first time you've been and I'm watching the expert do his own custom mix thinking, 'yep, you've been here a lot'. I settle on a mix of chilli paste, custom bbq sauce with a scattering of peanuts and spring onions. Flavours I know, not too challenging for my first time.

We sit down and ask what we do with the sauce. Across the three first timers (yes, we are hot pot virgins), we all thought that you put it in the soup mix but this isn't the case. No, not in hot pot we're told. You just use that sauce to dip the meat in once it's cooked. Excellent, we continue learning what the experts do.

Go-In, Hotpot, Asian, Adelaide, Share Plates, Gouger Street, Chinatown,
Why is it empty? 

Out come our soup bases on a trolley. Each is in a pot (surprise!), and the pots are placed on the hot plates on the table and they are turned on. Eventually, they start to boil, making them a hot pot! Then, our sides start to come out, plates of noodles, a bowl of cabbage, long trays of frozen shaved beef slices and a little pot of mushrooms. We each note that the soup has mushrooms already, and we may not have needed them. Our resident expert is surprised and notes that he hasn't had that before. There are also some fish cake slices and lemongrass slices throughout the soup bases.

Go-In, Hotpot, Asian, Adelaide, Share Plates, Gouger Street, Chinatown,
Bubble bubble, toil and trouble

Now our pots are hot, we've got our ingredients, we all watch the expert and as per our process today, monkey see, monkey do. He picks up a few slices of beef in his chopsticks, puts them in the boiling water and says, they'll be done in a few secs, don't let them over cook. Once the meats done, it gets moved to the additional soup bowl we've all been given. He then puts some of the noodles and veggies in his bowl and let's them cook. They take a little longer. While he's waiting, he's dipping the meat into the sauce. Okay, we all get it, and dig in.  Silence ensues around the table for the next five minutes as we all concentrate on the process and enjoy the meal.

The soup base is delicious, hot, sour, sweet just like a Tom Yum should be. It's punchy and well seasoned, but a little more salty than I'd like. When you cook your meat slices correctly, they are tender. When you don't, they become a little chewy, so you've got to watch them. There is sufficient fat on the slices to provide some depth. And as they say, fat is flavour. My sauce mix is working well for me, the chilli and peanuts are a good addition.

The fish cakes are chewy and give that textural balance that the soup base needs. The cabbage is a much needed crunch, and the mushrooms add some umami to the dish. And I feel like I've eaten a good serve of veggies along with all the meat! The instant noodles are good, a little chewy and go along with the soup. I'm keen to try the other noodle options next time to see what they can add to the experience.

There is a lot of food consumed at the table. We grabbed three plates of the beef. I initially thought we'd need more, but this is more than ample for the four of us. We don't leave any behind, but the last  few serves we cook are probably not needed!

Sitting, all very full, very happy, I can see again, how this could be a great meal to share with a group of friends or family. Initially, it's complicated and cooking your own food can sometimes be a little off putting. Why do I go out if I have to cook myself? On the other side of that coin is that I had hot food the entire time. I could decide what my meal was when I wanted....I feel like some more meat, with some noodles, ok, off I go to cook that. Just some soup and cabbage now, cook that and eat. And it was good fun, cooking, eating, chatting. Watching everyone else's approach, how they mixed their sauces, it was all very informative and told me a lot about my friends' preferences to food.

Having now been shown the way, I'm convinced I need to return. So many more options, so much personalisation left to explore. We agreed to share the bill and it comes to $25 each. Considering how much we all ate, it's excellent value. We've already started planning our next visit.

Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly: Lots of vegetarian / vegan items, but you would need to check with the staff regarding the contents of soups.
Child Friendly: There's sufficient room for children but you'll have to watch them around a boiling hot pot on the stove.

Ambiance: 4/5 - Whilst it wasn't busy when we were there, I can imagine it getting quite rowdy when its full!
Service: 4/5 - Service was prompt.
Food: 8.5/10 - I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In total OTCB gives Go-In Hot Pot Train 16.5/20 chops on The Chopping Board. 

  Go-In Hotpot Train Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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