Sandton Dinner on a Budget: Random Japanese Hot Pot

For an update on the Random Hot Pot Place, also known as Shanghai Hinabe, click here.

It’s 7:00 p.m. on Friday and we’re at the Sandton Convention Centre. We’ve spent two hours at the Joburg Art Fair and we’re hungry. We don’t want to eat at Sandton City Mall or in Nelson Mandela Square. We’re not well dressed. We don’t want to travel far. We don’t have reservations and we don’t want to spend a fortune.

If you live in Joburg, you have certainly faced this problem. I now have your solution: the random Japanese hot pot place on 11th Street in Parkmore.

I wrote about Parkmore, a small suburb adjacent to Sandton City, in the SandtonPlaces book and I’ve sung Parkmore’s praises before. It’s home to Eatery JHB and several other great restaurants and shops. But I didn’t know about the Random Hot Pot Place until my friend Alessio mentioned it to me a few weeks ago.

I remembered Alessio’s recommendation on Friday evening and messaged him to ask the restaurant’s name. He couldn’t remember the name but said it’s on 11th Street, two doors down from Sway Night Club.

We found it easily: a small, brightly lit shopfront with a sign in Asian script. The Random Hot Pot Place was filled with Asians. Good sign. We sat down at a round table with a big hole in the middle and received two menus: one with words and prices, one with food pictures. We couldn’t comprehend either one.

Hot pot menu

I love the idea of “Sunny Lettuce”. For some reason we didn’t order it.

Fortunately the Random Hot Pot Place proprietress was extremely helpful and explained everything in broken but comprehensible English. First you order your soup — either hot or mild, or half-half — then you order all the things you want to cook in the soup by checking them off on the paper menu. The menu includes various meats, fish, vegetables, dumplings, noodles, and anything else you can imagine that cooks in hot water. It’s all delivered to your table and you cook and eat as you go.

There were three of us but we ordered enough food for five. This was our rookie mistake — not paying attention to how much we ordered and consequently eating and spending more than we needed to.

Hot pot table

Our table: Loaded, heated up, and ready to go. We ordered the soup half mild and half spicy, along with tofu, fish balls, mushrooms, bok choy, beef, and a few other things. The fish balls (bottom right) were my favorite. We also ordered a plate of tasty pre-cooked pork dumplings (not shown). Both soups were delicious and the spicy soup had a nice bite to it.

The soup adds really good flavor to the ingredients cooked in it. But in addition to the soup flavor, you’re also invited to visit the sauce bar at the back of the restaurant and mix up your own combination of sauce-like condiments.

Sauce bar

There are sauce recipes on the wall. But I let this nice lady (I think she is an owner or manager) mix up a sauce combination for me. Whatever she made me was delicious.

As the ingredients cook, you fish them out of the soup with a slatted spoon and add them to your small bowl along with some sauce. Then chow.

Hot post after

Our soup bowl with all the ingredients added. I forgot to take a picture of my small bowl of ready-to-eat food and sauce, which I refilled at least ten times.

We wound up spending a bit more than R400 ($40) between the three of us, including tip and Chinese tea. As I mentioned, we could have spent less if we’d ordered smarter. Nonetheless this meal was cheaper, and much more fun, than dinner at your average upscale Sandton City restaurant.

I still don’t know the name of this place. The business cards say “Night Shanghai Restaurant”, which is actually the name of a Chinese restaurant around the corner that is owned by the same lady. But don’t worry about the name. When you’re standing on 11th St. looking at Sway Nightclub, Random Hot Pot Place is two doors down on the right. You can’t miss it. Nor should you.

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22 Comments

  • Reply Justcallmegertie August 25, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Sounds fabulous! I am definitely putting it on my list of places to try…

  • Reply buddhableu2000 August 25, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Sounds and looks more like Chinese Hot Pot rather than Japanese Shabu Shabu….a great way to eat specially in winter.

    • Reply 2summers August 25, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      I’m actually a bit confused as to whether it’s Chinese or Japanese. When we walked in the owner said it’s Japanese. But she herself is Chinese. I think it’s a mix 🙂

  • Reply Lindsey Loree August 25, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Yum!!!

  • Reply Dennis Zheng August 26, 2014 at 3:38 am

    FYI, lines like “… a sign in Asian script. The Random Hot Pot Place was filled with Asians.” come across as a little lazy and disrespectful. Asia’s not a country nor a type of cuisine; the text of the menu and the sauces is Chinese. I enjoy your work and have come to expect a certain level of cultural literacy that was a bit lacking here (e.g., on your visits you usually take care to know the establishment owner’s name .. and what exactly makes this a “Random” hot pot place?).

    I’m sure you meant nothing by it – just a note!

    • Reply 2summers August 26, 2014 at 8:53 am

      Hi Dennis,

      Thanks so much for the comment and I do apologize — you’re right that some of the writing in this post comes off as disrespectful. The truth is that I was confused about whether the origin of this restaurant is Chinese or Japanese. When we arrived, the first thing the owner said is, “Let me explain the menu — it’s all Japanese!” But I guess she actually meant that food is Japanese, not the words on the menu. Then later she told me that she also owns the Chinese restaurant around the corner, and I asked her what country she comes from and she said China. I should have explained all of this in more detail in my post.

      Anyway, this explanation still doesn’t excuse my flippancy. Thank you for reading my blog and thank you for calling me out 🙂

      Heather

  • Reply Claudz (@Claudz) August 26, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    What a truly hidden gem. Will look out for it!

    • Reply 2summers August 27, 2014 at 11:12 am

      Cool, hope you enjoy it.

  • Reply Ken August 27, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Great article, but this is more of a Chinese hotpot than Japanese. despite what the owner said 🙂

    • Reply 2summers August 27, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      Thank you. Yes, I’ve definitely realized I need to do more research on this. Which basically means going back there and eating a lot more hot pots 🙂

  • Reply peggy August 29, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Hi summer:
    I am a Night Shanghai Chinese Restaurant owner peggy.
    First thing:Thank you to our restaurant to eat hot pot,and in such a good facebook wroet a commentary.
    Second things:Our restaurant english name:Shanghai hinabe,Add:130 11th street parkmore 2196.
    Third things:We are a Chinese hot pot, the boss is from Shanghai,because we have many Japanese customer,so we prepared a Chinese and Japanese menus,menu due to the English translation of the pot is too much trouble,so we are not prepared to English fondue menu,This is our place to negligence,and therefore does not owe future we will launch as soon as possible in English fondue menu.
    Finally:We have two restaurant in parkmore,one of the shop Add:130 11th street parkmore sandton,run hot pot.another shop Add:Cnr Elizabeth Ave & 10th street Parkmore,Sandton.engaged in authentic Chinese cuisine,we have opened 10 years ,very welcome to come to our restaurant,we have the opportunity to taste Chinese cuisine and to make recommendations and opinions.
    My English is not very dood,write something might syntax is not very accurate,I hope you forgive me.

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2014 at 11:05 am

      Peggy, thank you so much for your comment and for clearing up many of the questions that people have been asking. I really appreciate it! I’ll be back very soon.

  • Reply Dipak August 29, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    This has to be my all-time favourite food posting on 2Summers! Thanks, Heather Mason, you’re an awesome blogger and Joburger!!

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      Hahaha, thank you Dipak! Glad you enjoyed. xx

  • Reply hilthethrill September 1, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    What fun! I have never seen a restaurant like that before. I am sitting on my pennsylvania couch with a sore throat, and I want to reach through the screen and steal your soup!

    • Reply 2summers September 1, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      Haha, thanks so much for this and your other comments. I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog!

  • Reply hilthethrill September 1, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    I posted a link up at my place, because I am obsessed with your soup.

  • Reply Five WIcked Awesome Things | Hil The Thrill September 1, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    […] 4.)This blog about an American in South Africa has delicious photography, and I really want this soup. […]

  • Reply Firefly - Jonker September 9, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    I loved trying proper Chinese food when I visited China

    • Reply 2summers September 10, 2014 at 2:55 pm

      For some reason China has never been high on my list of places to visit. But I would definitely like to go there for the food!

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