Where and How to Eat Hot Pot in Chinatown London
If you’ve never dived your chopsticks into a bowl of steaming hot pot then it’s time to make this treat your own.
Hot pot is thought to have originated in Mongolia nearly 1,000 years ago, eaten by boatmen who needed something hot, tasty and cheap to keep them warm whilst out in the wet and cold. Although you might not be rowing from place-to-place, hot pot today is enjoyed throughout much of China (and now London) as a communal meal between family and friends. As you sit around your hot pot, choosing ingredients and fishing for bites, it’s the perfect time to catch up on your week, make plans and learn more about the people you love.
Here, we show you how to eat hot pot and where to get it in Chinatown London.
How to eat hot pot
1. Choose your hot pot broth
Hot pot consists of a large bowl of steaming broth. Often there are two categories to choose from: mild and spicy (but in some restaurants there are as many as 14 different variations!). The mild broth is often made from chicken bones and has a light flavour, whereas the spicy broth is an oily texture that can contain chilies or sichuan pepper and is darker in colour.
If you can’t choose, feel free to have both! Many hot pot restaurants will create you a mixed broth, where you can try more than one flavour.
2. Select your hot pot ingredients
Hot pot menus are often huge! Full of different ingredients, from tender wagyu beef, to crunchy lotus root and even pig brains. When navigating the hot pot menu you’ll often see the ingredients split into different categories like meat, fish, vegetables and noodles.
Most people order a few plates of ingredients to share between the table. We find that around two plates per person is the perfect amount for a full meal. Don’t forget, you can always order more if you get hungry! The broth stays steaming until you turn it off, so there’s no worry of things getting cold.
3. Choose your dips and spices
As well as your ingredients you can also order powders, pastes and spices which make for perfect dipping. Just be warned – some of the spicy powders can bring some serious heat!
4. Dunk your hot pot ingredients
Once your broth is steaming hot (there’s usually a little control on the table to turn it up or down, but the restaurant staff will often manage this), it’s time to get dunking! Take some, or all, of your ingredients and dunk them down into the broth in one confident swoop.
Just remember – you’ll need to remember what’s in there so you can fish it out afterwards!
5. Find your ingredients
Most of the meat and fish you might like to try, such as crispy pork, will already be precooked before you add it to the broth, so it won’t need to be in there for too long. Some ingredients, like wagyu beef, will float as it is cooked making it easy for you to grab your chopsticks and get down to business. Others, like pig brains, can disappear deep down into the broth so you’ll need to go to work to find them again. The longer time you spend cooking, the spicier the broth can become as the ingredients mingle together.
With traditional hot pot, the noodles are often eaten last if you’re still feeling peckish (and will be full of flavour from being left in the broth).
Where to eat hot pot in Chinatown London
There are plenty of places to get the hot pot party started in Chinatown, here’s where to dip and devour.
If you’re looking for traditional Sichuan (otherwise known as spicy) hot pot, then Shu Xiangge on Gerrard Street is the perfect spot to head to. It specialises in the iconic communal setting, with tables you and your friends can feast around and you’ll often find Chinese families inside, enjoying their Sunday hot pot lunch. Being Sichuanese, it’s one hot pot restaurant that’s geared up for serious heat. From meat dipped in chili powder, to veggie options like tofu, it’s DIY heaven.
Find it at: 10 Gerrard Street, London, W1D 5PN
Elevating the humble hot pot to something a little more refined, Hot Pot on Wardour Street is a game-changer. Switching tripe and tongue for premium ingredients like steamed Japanese Wagyu beef, jumbo tiger prawns and lobster, this smart Wardour Street restaurant injects some luxury into the hot pot experience. Expect gorgeous presentation and mouth-watering cocktails to accompany your bubbling pot of one, or a mighty seven different broths.
Find it at: 17 Wardour Street, London, W1D 6PJ
A small-but-sweet eatery, Little Lamb is a traditional go-to spot if you’re wanting to try hot pot on a budget. Their set menu gets you your chosen broth and five ingredients per person to cook on a hot plate at your table. There’s plenty of types to choose from too – Nourishing Herbal Tonic, Special Spicy, or Mushroom and Tomato all make for a delicious pre-theatre bite with friends.
Find it at: 72 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 6NA
Hot pot may be known for its sharing nature, but if you’re more of a solo eater, Baiwei serves a delicious solo hot pot called mao cai. ‘Mao’ meaning the process of balancing the ingredients by vigorously moving them in boiling water. If you’re a hot pot beginner, this is also a good chance to experience it fully ready to go. Baiwei adds your ingredients and gets everything to the right temperature for you. Of course, being a Sichuan restaurant, it’ll be super spicy in a delicious, crimson red, fiery broth.
Find it at: 8 Little Newport St, London WC2H 7JJ
Where’s your favourite hot pot spot in Chinatown London? Tag us on Instagram using #ChinatownLondon – we’d love to hear from you!< Go Back To Discover