Visited Upin for a small pre-CNY gathering with friends after reading some reviews that it’s the more affordable and ‘some say even better’ than HDL option.

I made a reservation online requesting for a table overlooking the river (definitely do that because the view is nice!). Since it was for CNY, I also asked if it was possible to order Yu sheng or bring our own. They do serve Yu sheng but it requires one day advance booking. I received a call from them the day after confirming the reservation and asking about the Yu sheng. I’m a jiak kantang so I get antsy when Chinese restaurants call me especially if they speak mandarin - thank goodness this wasn’t the case here. The lady who called to confirm my reservation was very pleasant.

There was no queue at Upin when I arrived at 6.30pm and was promptly escorted to our table overlooking Clarke Quay. Like HDL, drinks are free flow but with additional charge (except for water). Condiments - similar situation. They pressed us to order the broths we wanted despite 3/5 of our group still absent. A max of 3 broths can be ordered, so we opted for mushroom, tomato and ma la. I do think the broths are pretty yummy, and they can go toe to toe with HDL, although the fragrance of the ma la broth wasn’t as strong or spicy.

Yu sheng was served after the hotpot. When it arrived, the colour on the dish looked quite dull. Not the usual vibrant colours of Yu sheng that excite me. The veg didn’t taste very fresh, and we didn’t enjoy the Yu sheng much. But of course they are a hotpot restaurant, so I can’t hold it against them. Would definitely give this a miss if I ever visited during CNY period again.

Overall, the decor isn’t as fancy, the service isn’t as attentive or friendly, nor are the ingredient and condiment selections as extensive as HDL. But it is definitely a more affordable option - so if budget is what’s on your mind - Upin is a viable alternative. For me though, there are other hotpot places I’d give a try before returning here, and I’d stick with HDL for the times I want to splurge on hot pot.