CLOSED: Surely Up Vegetarian Hot Pot (Richmond Hill)

During the winter months, I’m constantly craving a good hot pot meal. A bowl of boiling broth in front of me releasing an umami aroma, ingredients slowly being cooked, and voila a make-and-eat dinner is borne. There are abundant hot pot options across the GTA, both a la carte and all-you-can-eat (AYCE), but Surely Up Vegetarian Hot Pot is the first one I’ve found that’s completely meatless. 

It’s also the first one that has their ingredients presented on a conveyor belt, so you don’t need to try and flag down a staff member to get an extra order of anything – except for desserts as those seem to be slow to make it onto the belt.

The dining room is small but space is efficiently used. About twenty seats are placed in an oval around the conveyor belt, with a large mesh bag (for jackets) and a small shelf (for bags and phones) situated underneath the bar table. It makes you feel like you’re dining in Japan.

Up until end of February of the 2019-2020 holiday season, Surely is encouraging people to go vegetarian by offering a special $19.99 AYCE rate that includes a choice of soup base (mushroom or tomato), sauces, iced tea, and plum juice. It’s a fairly good deal from the regular $21.99, which includes the soup, but there’s an additional $1 for sauces and extra for drinks. In either case, if you want to go for the rare precious mushroom broth, it’s an additional $5.99.

In reality, there’s already tons of mushrooms spinning around as hot pot ingredients that you could easily make your own fungi broth. Grab anything you want from the conveyor and if you’re not sure what it is, underneath the dishes lies a sticker with the ingredient’s name. There are a few items where there’s an extra cost, these are clearly marked.

We mixed and matched to our heart’s content – tons of vegetables (oh watercress my beloved leafy green), mushrooms (enoki and shemeji goes so nicely with the broth), and even some mock meat for good measure (the mock shrimp balls and colourful dumplings were both good).

If you’re really hungry as you’re waiting for things to cook, there’s even a selection of ready-to-eat items such as warm tea eggs (these need a bit of extra flavouring added on) and mock duck floating around.

For me, the best part of the meal is tucking into a steaming bowl of noodles, at the end, and drinking the cooking broth with the noodles. The soup condenses down and is teeming with flavours. The frozen knife cut noodles at Surely is a nice change from the typical udon or instant noodles (although these are offered as well).

However, the worst part of the experience is all the plastic wrap being used to cover each and every dish – talk about a waste for a restaurant that’s encouraging people to go meatless! Of course, Surely needs to make sure things are hygienic, but the majority of the ingredients need to be cooked in scalding boiling water anyways, so it really doesn’t need to be covered. For the rest, they should invest in reuseable plastic domes to protect the plates. In fact, it’s the guilt of discarding all this plastic wrap that discourages me from visiting Surely Up more often.

Nonetheless, what I like most about hot pot is being able to spend time slowly catching up with a loved one. There’s no waiting around for ordering or dishes to arrive, and you eat at your own pace. Having hot pot is such a warming tradition that makes the winter months a bit more bearable.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Richmond Hill, Canada
 Address: 420 Highway 7

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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