The least expensive buffet in Singapore.

It’s been a couple months since the rat incident at Hotpot Culture, and despite NEA lifting its suspension last month and the restaurant lowering its daily lunch porridge buffet to just $6.80++ ($8 nett), the crowds have not yet returned…. But I think this is the best time to visit the restaurant. Here are 5 reasons why:

5 Reasons to Give Hotpot Culture Another Try

  1. The price is now at $8 nett. Their lunch porridge buffet pre-rat incident was $10.35 nett (23% savings!).
  1. The menu items have improved. They have their usual 24 dishes, plus barley, green bean dessert, orange slices, popcorn, sweet potato, and porridge (now separated). They have also added a self-serve drink area with free flow barley and lemon tea.
  1. Improved safety and quality control. I remember way back in 1993 when Jack in the Box, an American fast food chain, had the infamous E. coli outbreak that resulted in 732 infections. Many of the victims were in Los Angeles (where I also lived). Following the incident, all Jack in the Box restaurants were shut down. And their processes and equipment were given an overhaul. When they reopened, nobody wanted to eat there, despite the steep discounts and coupons they were giving out. My family, on the other hand, thinking that lightning usually doesn’t strike the same place twice, couldn’t let a good deal go by. We had our fair share of post-E. coli Jack in the Box meals. And nobody got sick. Why? Because immediately after a contamination incident, the offending restaurant would be the most cautious and have the highest standards. According to a Channel News Asia report, Hotpot Culture said that they’ve changed some practices, added additional safety procedures to their food handling, and have engaged a pest control company to do a thorough inspection of the premises.
  1. You probably already have eaten some rat today. As a chemical engineer, I worked in both the pharmaceutical and food manufacturing industries. And from that experience, I can tell you that if you have ever eaten any canned food, sauces (including ketchup), cereal, chocolate, coffee, peanut butter (or kaya, nutella, etc.), ice cream, wheat flour (or anything made of flour), or other mass produced or processed foods, then you have definitely had your share of rat, insects, maggots, and worms. Fresh foods also have these “extra ingredients”. But they’re easier to identify and pick out. It is a well known industry secret that there are acceptable levels of these “extra ingredients” in common manufactured foods. For example, canned mushrooms can have as much as 19 maggots and 74 mites in every 100g, and still be considered “acceptable” for sale. Note to all you vegans out there: it’s nearly impossible to be truly vegan. Another industry secret? There are some foods (cakes, candies, and Starbucks Frappuccinos) that are “naturally coloured” by the bodies of crushed bugs called cochineal (yum!).
  1. A lot of restaurants have rats. In fact, Marina Square found 14 restaurants with “rat activity”. Rats simply go where there’s a food source. Same with cockroaches. Many restaurants prevent contamination of the food through pest control measures. In other words, it is an ongoing war against these rodents. Hotpot Culture was just unlucky to be caught “rat-handed.” One hopes that after this incident, it’s unlikely that they will be a “dirty rat” and commit another public fiasco such as this one.

My verdict:

Their food selection is better and costs less. Their safety measures, according to reports, have improved. So why not give them a second chance?

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