Peijie Hotpot

Jackie McMillan
4th Mar 2023

If you didn’t grow up eating hotpot it can be a little intimidating to visit a dedicated hotpot restaurant chock full of diners who know exactly what they’re doing. Peijie Hotpot Sydney Chinatown, one of Chongqing's most popular hotpot chains, goes the extra mile to invite unfamiliar diners in. They do it with flyers that set out the steps for success, and friendly, English-speaking staff who lean in to answer questions like what are the little cans of oil for? (You pour them into your carefully constructed sauce—start with half—to protect your stomach from all the chilli.) You’ll also find cooking times for each item on your order sheet: they are very helpful!

Peijie Hotpot have three restaurants, in Auburn, Eastwood, and the one I visited in Chinatown. It’s a contemporary space fenced by walls of pale blue light overlaid by patterned screens. Overhead your eye is distracted from darkened exposed fixtures by geometric arrangements of neon lights. Wanting to try the spicy tallow hot pot but doubting my ability to eat non-stop chilli I opted for the three flavour hotpot ($36.80) throwing in mushroom and beef soup with the ‘two chilli’ version. It was plenty hot enough making me very grateful for the 2L Orion beer tower ($40) that allowed you to pour your own Okinawan flame retardant at the table.

So what to add? Well everything I tried here was delicious. The star was the signature wafer thin potato slices ($8.80) that cook in 8 seconds: they have a special machine that cuts the potato so thin. In the spicy tallow hot pot I liked bean curd rolls ($8.80), slippery skin-on silver perch ($18.80) and robust chilli beef ($18.80) which will dirty up your other soups if you stray. Oyster mushrooms ($11.80), abalone ($38.80) and textural slices of Kurobuta pork ($13.80) all went well in the mushroom hotpot. For the beef soup, I favoured thin slices of wagyu beef ($24.80) and a repeat dipping action so you could watch the steaming hot soup change the colour of your beef.

Not quite trusting my chopstick cooking skills with noodles, I went for pork stuffed egg dumplings ($10.90) to fill out the corners. This was a satisfying and enjoyable meal in an (all too rare) venue that stays open until 2am on Friday and Saturday nights.