July 4, 2014

First Impression: O'Neko

Did you hear Hamilton has a Ramen and Hot Pot joint? What?! What are we, cultured now? This is mind blowing! Too bad I can't say the same for the food. Ouch. Really? Did I just go there so soon in the post? Yep.  

Just kidding, it wasn't awful - or else you wouldn't be reading about it here. But you know I'll be honest and tell you what I did not like about the place.
The Sok sisters and I headed to O'Neko a few months ago when I was really in the mood for something warm to hit the spot. Mind you, these are all first impressions and I'll definitely be back a second time just to see if my impressions are justified. 

Lets just get this part out of the way -  don't even bother with the ramen. If you've ever had ramen before, you will be immensely dissapointed.  This stuff tasted worse than the kind you get in prepackaged bags at T&T. Okay, okay that was a little harsh, but the broth definitely came from powder. Which is unfortunate because I would absolutely salivate at a decent ramen joint in Hamilton. But if you've never had ramen before - by all means go for it. You'd have nothing to compare it to.  

By the way, we  ordered the Shoyu ramen ($10.99 large) - soy sauce, pork, seasoned egg, bean sprouts, corn, scallion, o'neko signature soup. 
The Hot Pot is a bit of a hit & miss. There were both pro's and cons. Pro - it's AYCE, con - everything has an additional cost to it. If you're brand new to hot pot - take a seat and feel free to take notes. 

First off, Hot Pot is a boiling broth (often placed at the table) with "toppings" that you cook in the broth. There are also dipping sauces you can use to enhance everything you've cooked. It's meant to be a very social meal with lots of drinking and eating. It's one of my favourite DIY meals at home. Super lazy girl dinner I tell ya. Easy to prep and your guest do their own cooking! With that being said - because I am so fond of hot pot, I have very high standards. 
At O'Neko AYCE Hot Pot is $17.99 (weekends $18.99) - which isn't too bad considering the amount of food you get. You get a piece of paper with a choice of soup base, sauces, proteins, seafood & meatballs, vegetables, and "mains". There was a lot of variety. Bonus points for that. But read very carefully with the soup bases and sauces there are addition "up grade" charges.

Considering it was our first time, we went with the Original Soup Base (no additional cost) as well as one satay sauce and one sesame paste sauce. After that each additional sauce is $1. Personally the sauce and the broth make or break hot pot. I've been known to bring my own sauce to hot pot joints. #noshame.  The original soup base we ordered was very bland, like a powdered base chicken broth with a few pepper corns added. 

Other soup bases were tom yum ($5.99),  spicy soup base ($1.00 ) and half original/ half spicy ($1.00).

As for the meat options - choose wisely. There is a $2.99 penalty per plate wasted fee. What does that means? I have no idea. Pretty much follow the "take all you want, but eat all you take" rule. Everything comes in one big party platter - unless it's a protein. And they pretty much base the portion size on the party size. But this is only an assumption because for the three of us we got a handful of each item we picked. 
Like I said before, they definitely get bonus points for the variety of items they offer. They also offer heavier things to go in the hot pot like dumplings, rice cakes and the standard starch items.  Hot pots are generally eaten with noodles - some prefer rice, we personally do rice noodles at our house so it was nice to see the variety.

Watercress, broccoli, mushrooms, and snow pea shoots are probably my go to items, as well as beef, lamb, and all the meatballs. Yes all the meatballs. All in all, the variety was pretty good - not the greatest I've seen but still pretty good. Be a little adventurous and just get a tonne of #$%* you've never had before! 

The service on the other hand was atrocious. I'd recommend going with someone who has done hot pot before or be prepared for a little adventure. It's a different way of eating and the servers don't really do much to assist you. They're really just there to drop food and fill up water cups - and even that seemed far beyond them. #sorrynotsorry
I'm not exactly running back to O'Neko but it hasn't made the black list yet .. yes I have a black list. But with the right group of friends, it could be a pretty great meal. If everyone's just looking for quantity and aren't so picky with quality. This is the place to go.  Again, hot pot is meant to be a social thing, so sometimes food quality isn't the hugest deal. The food is meant to take a while to cook so people can  have time to converse, and drink. So don't expect this to be a quick meal. It's a fun interactive dinner. 

But don't bother with the ramen.  
There really isn't much of an ambiance inside either. Unless you're into cats. Cause they've got a few large cat posters. And when we were there, the place was cash only - with the only ATM across the street.


Happy Eating!


O'Neko
127 King St. East
Hamilton, On
O'Neko on Urbanspoon

6 comments:

  1. I'm impressed you braved it. It looked sketchy from the get go. Good ramen is hard to find...even in Toronto. Wasn't even impressed with Momofuku.

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    1. Glad I could take one for the team. The ramen at Momofuku is always disappointing and overpriced. The broth is way too salty for me

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  2. I was SO excited that you found a ramen place in Hamilton... but then I read your post and now I'm sad. What ramen places in Toronto would you recommend?!

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    1. Sadly boo, it's true. I was not a fan of the ramen. In toronto - the usual would be Kinton but I surprisingly enjoyed Ryus which is down the road form them but Kinton tends to be the popular one. Ryus I find to be very tofu friendly - which I enjoy. People also like Santouka but I prefer Kinton over Santouka. Touhenboku is completely different than the other two - their broth is chicken based and it is very thick - but still tasty.

      So much to choose from! Whatever you do, don't go to momofuku - soo salty!

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    2. Wow! Kinton and Ryu would be my top pick too! I have yet to go to Santouka. Sansotei on Dundas and Raijin Ramen on Gerrard aren't bad either. They need to make their way to Hamilton!

      I've heard so much hype about Momofuku but I've also heard that it's nothing special. When I went, I only got some overpriced pork belly bao's :(

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  3. We tried 3 types of ramen here too. Soup is like warm, meat taste like it was in the fridge for a few days. Not coming back.

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