There is a world of all-you-can-eat hot pot in Flushing that I used to think was dominated by the perpetually crowded Hot Pot City. On a recent visit, me and a group of expecting friends arrived to find that they had shut their doors and closed up shop, becoming a lifeless karaoke establishment. Searching the immediate environs close to the Main Street 7 station, we happened upon Shanghai Tide, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main thoroughfare.
Hot pot has a few varieties, but it is done in its most standard, group-enjoyment form here. A large bowl split in half for spicy and non-spicy, ready to throw in whatever you want. All the prices in the area are about the same, here it is $26.95 per person, which is all-inclusive of everything you put in the pot, the un-soupy soup dumplings, and unlimited cans of Budweiser. It also includes tax and tip, so bring exactly $27 when you come here and you will go home with a nickel. No surprises!
Unfortunately the set price and tip lead to some below-average service, but thankfully once the food arrives, you only have to rely on the wait staff for drinks. All the cooking is done at the table and independently.
Our group of four, three hot pot veterans and a newbie, was completely satisfied with both broths, and the array of sauces offered at the buffet. It was easy to mix and match any taste you wanted with the sheer amount of selections available. We filled at least a dozen small bowls with different sauces and actually ended up ignoring them for most of the meal.
As stated before, the soup dumplings that come as part of the package are far below average, but a round of them seems mandatory just to add to the variety. The meats as in most hot pots are all about equal when they reach your mouth, tasting of the broth more than anything. The vegetables all seemed very fresh and the seafood was adequate.
The only real downer of the place is the place itself. The furniture, decor, and service just seem to be lacking spirit. Keep your spirits high at the table and enjoy the broths and everything will be just fine.