I can still remember the first time I had hot pot! I was in Tokyo on a business trip, and I had never heard about this dish before! In Japan hot pot is called Shabu-Shabu – and just like in China and Thailand it is a beautiful, tasty broth containing a variety of East Asian food and ingredients prepared at the dining table. Amazing!
Being very much in love with this kind of food, I decided, that I simply had to find a place in London, that serves something similar to what I had in Tokyo! I have eaten many places in Chinatown, but never been to Hot Pot! So Frenchie and I decided, that now was the time to try it out!
Here we are in the heart of Chinatown, London… Wardour Street!
Chinatown’s colourful history goes back long before the Chinese community of restaurants and businesses popped up in the 1950s. It was the birthplace of the Post Office, Ronnie Scott’s and the playground of the literary elite. In fact, London’s original Chinatown was in the East End where Chinese employees first rocked up in the 18th century.
But after World War II London’s Chinese community were short of income and even shorter of a place to live. When they arrived in Soho in the 1950s, it had gained a reputation for great nightlife and cheap commercial rents. Luckily for them, British soldiers returning from the Far East had fallen in love with Chinese cuisine and so up sprung supermarkets and restaurants. Their success attracted more Chinese entrepreneurs away from the East End to seek their fortunes, and the Chinatown of today was born.
In the 1980s the area got the full Chinatown treatment. Chinese gates, street furniture and a pavilion were added. From bakeries to bars and restaurants to reflexology, today’s Chinatown is an Oriental wonder. Souvenir shops, health clinics, barbers and travel agents – it really does have everything and truly a must-see if you are around!
Welcome to Hot Pot
Got to love the authentic, Oriental decor! This is the “Maneki-neko” – a common Japanese figurine (lucky charm, talisman) which is often believed to bring good luck!
Beautiful, fresh lobster!
The brand Hot Pot is already very popular in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia – with this being their first venture into London! In their own words “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!” We were very excited to try this out!
Hot Pot has the most amazing Cocktail menu! No doubt they have got a few tricks up their sleeves in here!. Daring ingredients and decadent flavours! I had a non-alcoholic cocktail “Green Dragon” with green apple, cucumber, lime juice and sparkling water. Frenchie went for a “Yuzu Sunrise” with yuzu, archers schnapps, lychee juice, pineapple juice and lime juice! (They were both really good and highly recommendable!)
While looking at the menu card we enjoyed a bowl of wok tossed deep-fried crispy soft shell crab crackers with Thai sweet chili sauce!
It took us a long time choose! There are MANY delicious dishes to choose from – and they all look so good! If in doubt, ask the very loving waiters. We definitely needed a bit of help, as we didn’t want to order too much (which often happens, when Frenchie and I go out for dinner!)
To begin with we had a plate of classic tasty wok tossed calamari with cloves, chilli, salt, pepper, spring onions and ginger…
We chose a multitude of sauces from the sauce bar for our calamari and soft shell crab crackers! You can mix and match different sauces – and again, if you are in doubt ask the waiters. They know the secrets to a great combo of different sauces, herbs and nuts
Time to choose our broth!
Hot Pot offers many different types of broth! If you’re unable to choose, then they also offer hot pots divided in the middle so you can enjoy two broths at once! As we were very curious about tasting as much as possible , we went for the half-and-half combination! I was very eager to try out the famous and fiery Chinese Mala Sichuan, but the waiter told me, that it might be a bit too spicey for a pregant woman, so instead we went for a rich and earthy mushroom broth and the newest addition – a Thai coconut green curry. (My favourite was the longevity mushroom broth – but they were both very delicious!)
When it comes to raw ingredients Hot Pot has an impressive selection, covering meat (free range where possible), sustainably sourced fish and seafood, vegetables, rice and noodles. No doubt it was hard to choose, as you can have everything from marinated chicken, pork belly, mutton and kidney to sweet potato, fresh quail’s eggs and grouper. There are also plenty of luxury ingredients to enjoy: wagyu and angus fillet beef, lobster and crab. Vegetarians have an abundance of choice, including different types of mushrooms and tofu dishes
As beautiful as it gets! This is the mixed vegetable selection: a whole range of mushrooms, green leaves and sweetcorn
Frenchie loves fish, so he decided that we should try out the fishballs and prawns. He was very pleased with his choice!
But I had my mind set on meat – and not just any kind of meat! I really wanted to try out the Japanese Wagyu beef! And when it arrived, I was overly excited! What a beautiful serving! And the meat was out of the world tasty (You simply must try this!)
We also chose the tender chicken in original marinate… And then then party could begin!
Add the ingredients in the hot broth…
Somehow we succeeded in eating it all, but honestly it was such an amazing experience! The quality of food is undeniably high and boiled to your own personal taste. Furthermore, I really enjoyed spending quality time with Frenchie eating and chatting. What I like about this place is, that the tables are big and there is plenty of space to have an intimate conversation! It is a great place to go for a romantic date – maybe on Valentine’s Day?
I was in the mood for a cup of tea – and maybe a sneak-peek at the dessert menu. This is the very popular Chrysanthemum Tea with a lovely floral aroma!
Even though my tummy was full, I couldn’t help myself trying out this very special dessert, that many food-bloggers have praised to the skies!
And they were right! A delicious Japanese style pancake, packed with warm banana, sesame, drizzled with syrup and served with a side of ice cream. A perfect way to end our evening at Hot Pot
Not to forget! I was kindly asked to mention this brand-new menu! I haven’t tasted it myself – but I am pretty sure that I will! (Marinated pork ribs hot plate with vegetables and melted cheese! Yes, please!)
We had a wonderful evening out in the very heart of London – and after all this delicious food, we decided to take a walk around in the area! I have said it before – and I will say it again “How, I just love my city”
We were guests of Hot Pot – opinions as always are my own!
What a fun and unique idea! Sounds like there is a fantastic choice too!
This is a must-try! And yes, it really is quite fun to create your perfect dish yourself (with a little help from the waiters, maybe)
I never knew so much about the back history of China Town and so this post was certainly an interesting read.
The food also look and sounded lovely I will certainly have to go along and try some of the dishes you tried.
I am so happy to hear, that my blog was interesting to you! I had no idea, that Chinatown had its roots in East London before too! I am sure you will enjoy dinner at Hot Pot! I don’t know anyone, who hasn’t 🙂
Hot Pot looks like a fun place to eat out, the ingredients look so fresh & delicious and that dessert looks amazing! Chinatown is such a great area to explore, nice reading about its history as well! Have a nice weekend, Louise!
I have a feeling, that you and your husband would like Hot Pot, Miriam 🙂 Being a great connoisseur of food as you are, you will certainly appreciate the fresh and healthy dishes here 🙂
I didn’t realise Chinatown was born in the East End! The hotpots are a really interesting concept. As pesco-veggies, there seem to be plenty of options. I particularly love the idea of the banana pancake!
The banana pancakes… I still dream of them 😀 Soooo good! – And so was the rest! I can honestly say, that we will be back for sure!
I remember the first time I had Hot Pot, too! (In Shanghai) This place looks like such a great place to share a meal with someone you love, and the new Thai coconut green curry sounds fabulous.
You will not be disappointed here. I thought, I would never get anything as good as the version I had in Tokyo, but honestly… This was REALLY good! You are in for a treat – and yes… It is such a romantic way to share a meal 🙂
I desperately want to take a trip to London and have a hot pot now! I was in Chinatown last time I visited London, but I never ate anywhere. I need to remedy that!
Once you have had Hot Pot – you will be back for more! I promise! 😉
OMG! I love Hot Pot! I had no idea there was on in China Town. I must go and see for myself! Love your review! Everything looks so delicious! Yumm!
Thank you for the kind words, Su! Happy to hear that you share the same passion for Hot Pot as me! I am sure, you will enjoy it big time!
What a perfect night out! I can only imagine how good it must smell when the pot is simmering right in front of your nose =o) I’ll have to find a place like this near my house and try it out!
I am sure, you can find something similar – otherwise you have to jump on a place and come to London, Darling 😉
Wonderful post! My mouth is watering! My first hotpot experience was also in Japan. Wagyu shabu shabu in an amazing restaurant underneath Tiffany’s in Tokyo. It was like being born again, or seeing for the first time! 😀 Delicious! The next time was a hotpot in Shanghai. I learned the hard way that the more the broth reduces the more the spice comes through. Flaming gasoline! Great photos! Thanks for taking me back to Tokyo via London. David.
Thank you so much for your words, David! And a warm welcome to my blog too! 🙂
We also had the Waguy shabu shaby in Tokoy…. You describe it so well – it was exactly like being born all over again! 😀
I had a look at your blog too… Wow – you have been so many places. Looking forward to reading more