Hot Pot is a new Thai-Chinese fusion restaurant in London’s Chinatown district that brings a much-loved Asian dining experience to the UK. In many parts of the Orient, groups of friends and family gather for hours, chatting, gossiping and enjoying a wide variety of foods bubbling away in a hot pot brimming with broth in the middle of the table. I was more than excited to try this experience myself.
Immediately upon being ushered through Hot Pot’s red doors by friendly Thai staff, you become aware that the atmosphere is one of friendliness and fun. Elegantly decorated with neutral tones and chic lighting, the spacious interior welcomes groups of any size.
Being vegan, I was a little dubious as to whether or not I’d get to experience the authenticity of this restaurant, but a quick call beforehand assured me that there were plenty of options available. As Hot Pot is all about encouraging diners to tailor-make their own meal, it’s easy to pick out gluten free and vegan options. In fact, I was amazed at the diversity of foods I could order.
Out of the five broths available, two are gluten free, clear and vegan friendly, and with many of the accompanying ingredients are raw, and therefore suitable, too. If you are vegan you will find there are 14 different types of vegetables, 6 types of mushrooms, 6 types of tofu and 3 different types of noodles to pop into your broth.
My husband, who came with me for the meal, is not vegan and breathed a sigh of relief when he heard he could order his own soup and meatier ingredients like salmon, pheasant’s eggs and chicken – though that being said, he did generously help himself to my side of the cauldron, too!
After your broth and ingredients are selected, the soup is brought to the table and you have a small wait for it to boil. Whilst it’s doing it’s thing, you can go up to the sauce bar and follow recipes to create sauces ranging from hot chili, sweet and sour, peanut sauce and more, which you’ll need later. Then it’s back to the table to get your food going!
Now’s the time to place all the ingredients you ordered into the broth to cook. I added Japanese tofu, pumpkin, sweet potato, bok choi, udon noodles, shiitake mushrooms and bamboo shoots to my broth. Once it was all cooked, I ladled spoonfuls of various veggies and soup out into a separate bowl and added my sauce (peanut lime, by the way). Every single bite was an explosion of taste and texture. My husband polished his chicken/egg/noodle/spinach broth (with added sweet soy sauce) off quickly, and decided my vegan option was not so bad after all. Which was a good thing – to be honest, I did not realise how generous each portion of soup ingredients would be, and I over-ordered, which meant there was zero space left in my belly for dessert. I did manage to suck down an incredibly refreshing watermelon juice, whilst the husband had a beer and passionfruit juice.
We plan to go back, but this time, with friends – the whole process of ‘cooking’ your food at the table was really fun. We talked, we ate and we had a few drinks, and the hours slipped by without us even realising. At no point did we feel rushed by the staff. They were very attentive and helpful in explaining the concept to a newbie like myself, and yet they also stayed distant enough to let us truly immerse ourselves in this dining experience and enjoy our evening.
When it came time to eventually pay the bill we were surprised to discover that we had been there for almost three hours – oops! As reluctant as we were for the night to come to an end, we were also excited to realise we now had a place to take our nieces, who would be coming to visit in a few weeks’ time. We’re sure they’ll love Hot Pot as much as we did.
17 Wardour Street