Summer is fast approaching and with that in mind FAULT is on the quest to bring you the very best of dining experiences in London for our 2018 “where to dine this summer guide”.
Today we present to you Hot Pot, the quintessential group dining experience for friends and family. Hot Pot is of course nothing new, for over one thousand years it has allowed groups of people to come together in a shared cooking experience to prepare and enjoy food cooked at your very own table. With the newly opened Hot Pot restaurant located on Wardour Street and right in the heart of London’s Chinatown, we headed down to see if Hot Pot could still be enjoyed as part of a summertime experience.
Walking into the restaurant, it’s clear that it’s already a hit; despite it being a Wednesday evening, the restaurant was still a hive of chatter as friends caught up for their slow-paced postwork meetups. With two floors the second to be opened later in the year. It’s important to mention that the décor and arrangements are well put together as opposed to some other venues within the area. Every ornament complements the next without being garish or thrown together; it’s truly a place you’d feel comfortable.
As a group dining venue, seating is arranged in tables of 6, 8 and 10 with private dining rooms available if you’d like a more exclusive experience. In the centre of each table, you’ll find the hot plate on which all of your cooking will take place.
Now down to the food! Diners have the choice of five broths to cook chosen ingredients within which are listed below.
Mala Sichuan Spicy, Tom Yum, Chicken, Clear and Vegetarian.
We had the chance to sample all five and to my own surprise Vegetarian was my favourite – any vegetarian will tell you that some restaurants can really miss the mark with their vegetarian options usually resulting in disappointingly lacklustre flavours but Hot Pot is defiantly not an example of this. I’d highly recommend the Vegetarian or Chicken Broth for meat eaters who aren’t great with spicy food but are still looking for flavoursome dishes with rich spices.
After finding your broth, it’s then time to pick your ingredients to cook with it. This is somewhat daunting but luckily the restaurant staff are on hand to help pick dishes which complement each broth’s individual flavours. You can pick from a vast array of ingredients, all of which are listed below.
Rib-eye, wagyu, marinated chicken, pork belly, sea bass, king prawns, shrimp wontons, Scottish lobster, fresh abalone, shitake mushrooms, golden needle mushroom, sweet potato, fresh tofu, crab claws and quail eggs.
While a large option is available, make sure to ring ahead and see what they actually have available that day. We know from last year’s “Datenight Guide’ that you’re all a big fan of lobster and crab however on this occasion the restaurant did not have the option available even with lobsters in the tank display, so if it’s a must, be sure to confirm before making the trip.
Despite it being a strange concept to have to cook your own food at the table, it’s actually surprisingly fun and interactive. An unexpected plus side to everyone participating in cooking and dining is that it drives conversation as you comment on the different flavours and discuss favourite dishes with your table. What really would be handy would be a graph with cooking times for each ingredient, left to our own devices there was a worry about making sure each ingredient was cooked properly and with little guidance, we were forced to either overcook the food or to risk eating it before it was fully cooked and neither option is ideal. That being said, it’s a new venue with all the potential to add in these features at a later date.
What really would be handy would be a graph with cooking times for each ingredient, left to our own devices there was a worry about making sure each ingredient was cooked properly and with little guidance, we were forced to either overcook the food or to risk eating it before it was fully cooked and neither option is ideal. That being said, it’s a new venue with all the potential to add in these features at a later date.
We tried a little of everything available and your dining experience is definitely down to you thanks to their wide variety of options. If you’re after something light, you can go with wontons and shrimp cooked in a light vegetarian or clear broth and if you’re looking for something more hearty then pair the ribeye and sweet potato cooked in a tom yum broth. If there’s one thing you get when dining at Hot Pot, it’s the pleasure of choice which is a massive advantage.
Is Hot Pot a must this summer? Despite some growing pains which we imagine will be ironed out in the coming months, it’s a resounding yes. Despite it sounding more suitable for the winter season, the broths are actually pleasantly cooling. Located in the convenient but often bustling Chinatown, it’s a godsend to have a place where you can take things slow and enjoy a meal at your own pace with your loved ones. If you’re looking for a truly unique dining experience, then look no further than Hot Pot.
17 Wardour Street
Monday-Wednesday: midday to midnight
Thursday – Saturday: midday to 00.30am
Sunday: midday to 11.00pm
Hot Pot is £8 for the table and ingredients range from £5 for vegetables, mushrooms and tofu, £5.50 for marinated pork, £7.50 for mussels, £10.50 for scallops and £20.50 for premium wagyu.