Hot Pot: a sumptuous DIY event
Hot Pot is a sociable activity that allows family and friends to gather together around the pot to celebrate the tradition of sharing – the tradition of Hot Pot.
With over 150 Hot Pot restaurants in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, this particular branch in London’s Chinatown has won me over after just the first visit. It’s not on the main drag of Chinatown but around the corner in Wardour Street. This 4,500 square foot eatery is set over two floors with a sizable 148 covers. They cater for groups of 4 and 6 and 10, and there is a private dining room for 8.
The tables are a little different, being set with an electric hob. That’s a clue to the style of cooking here. It’s a sumptuous DIY event which offers quality, variety, great good taste and conviviality. The food will be cooked to perfection – you will be doing it.
Order some starters and wait for your bowl of broth to come to a rolling boil. It could be broths – plural. These metal vessels come with dividers to allow for different tastes and there are several of them. From China there is the spicy and fiery Mala Sichuan broth. This is truly a taste of the region, with mouth-numbing Sichuan pepper and dried chillies. This isn’t one for the faint-hearted but will be the broth of choice for any lover of robust flavours. A mild soup is rich Drunken Chicken which is clear and light. Or from Thailand comes hot and sour Tom Yum broth.
Flexible and fun meal
This restaurant is a haven for any diner of the picky sort. One not only chooses the cooking broth but also the goods for poaching – and there are dozens of them. There are thinly cut meats of every kind, shellfish for a taste of luxury, fresh and crunchy vegetables, along with tofu, noodles and eggs. The quality of all these ingredients is evident. They are raw and ready for the pot, but the novice need not be embarrassed by lack of culinary skill – there are cooking instructions for every item.
This meal is a simple step-by-step process:
1. Choose your broth;
2. Choose your ingredients to poach;
3. Prepare your bespoke sauce from the large selection at the sauce station. If in doubt then I recommend the House sauce;
4. Choose ingredients with which to top your meal – such as peanuts and chillies;
5. Cook your ingredients;
6. Dip your cooked goods in your sauce;
7. Finish your now rich broth as soup, with some of those aforementioned noodles.
Hot Pot doesn’t offer classic fine dining but it does offer the best casual dining, and it’s fine. It’s the most flexible and fun meal in town, and it’s even better with a crowd. Come hungry and leave with a booking for the next visit.
Monday to Thursday: Midday to 11.00pm
Friday to Sunday: Midday to 12.30am
17 Wardour Street
Phone: 020 7287 8881
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018