Hotpot, where a range of meat, fish, vegetables and noodles are cooked in a shared pot of broth for diners to pick from and dip into sauces before eating, is a traditional Chinese way of eating that has been going for centuries and still remains very popular today, particularly because of the communal aspect of the meal. Naturally London’s Chinatown boasts the strongest concentration of hotpot restaurants in the city but there are some scattered elsewhere. These are our favourites.
Restaurant, Chinese, $$$
Shuang Shuang is one of the newer hotpot restaurants in Chinatown and you can tell by the modern interior, complete with a conveyer belt that snakes its way around the restaurant carrying 50 various ingredients, from wagyu beef to fish balls to chrysanthemum leaves, you can cook in your broth. The broth choices include mala, tom yum, black bird and a vegan option, which you can share between two at a counter seat or turn into a bigger, split flavour pot in one of the larger booths. The conveyer belt makes eating hotpot here even more fun but it’s also very easy to keep picking and picking, so keep an eye on those plates!https://www.instagram.com/p/Ba8raiEDkzo/?taken-at=1006742488
Mongolian hotpot is the speciality of the house at Little Lamb, a simple but super popular spot on Shaftesbury Avenue. Broth options here include herbal tonic, spicy special and mushroom and tomato, and if you have trouble deciding on your broths you can double or even triple up on flavours. The wafer thin lamb is one of the best things to dunk into the soup but they also offer a set menu of one stock and five ingredients for two people for £25, so that’s a great way of trying it out.
Chilli Cool is a hole in the wall in Bloomsbury that specialises in Sichuan food, so that means a lot of chilli and not a lot of cool. As well as an à la carte menu they serve two types of hotpot – a spicy one and a split flavour Chongquing Yuanyang one. The selection of hotpot ingredients isn’t massive but with the likes of luncheon meat, tripe and bean curd sticks as well as prawn, sweet potato and sliced lamb there’s enough to satisfy hotpot traditionalists and newcomers alike, and it’s eat as much as you like for £20.
There can be absolutely no confusion as to what they serve here at Hot Pot, the first London outpost of a restaurant that has expanded into a popular chain across Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Chinese mala, drunken chicken, tom yum and Thai coconut green curry are amongst Hot Pot’s broths and they also serve over 60 ingredients, including quails eggs, shrimp wontons, kelp and lobster, as well as unlimited dipping sauce options so there’s plenty of room for experimentation.
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West London might not seem like the place for excellent Chinese food but Tian Fu boasts some very strong credentials. After working in established restaurants in Chengdu, Beijing and Shanghai, chef Zhang Xiozhong graced the kitchens of Barshu and The Shard’s Hutong before bringing his knowledge of Sichaun food to Shepherd’s Bush. Tian Fu is not a dedicated hotpot restaurant but they do serve up a great version with a buffet of ingredients to accompany the numbing and spicy broth.