Sichuan hot pot specialists, Shu Xiangge, has opened a second site on Gerrard Street in Chinatown. It follows the brand’s first site, which is known for its comforting, authentic, home-cooked style southwestern Chinese food, on New Oxford Street.
The new Chinatown outpost features the signature fragrant and spicy beef fat oil broth, which is seasoned with 12 different spices. Among the 80 different ingredients which can be added to the hot broth, the restaurant is perhaps best known for its offal: beef tendon, kidney, aorta, and tripe are all on the menu.
Founder Terry Zhao, who comes from northeastern China, founded Shu Xiangge after a year of market research and several trips to Sichuan province — first to sample different styles and flavours, and then to source the best broth suppliers to bring those same flavours to London. Shu Xiangge Chinatown will be the sister branch to Holborn’s site, which opened in 2016.
Hot Pot at Shu Xiangge is cooked at the table in classic Sichuan style 9-grid pots; a tradition that stretches back over 200 years to the Yangtze River in Chongqing, Sichuan province. It is here that hot pot started as a communal dinning choice for the boatmen on the riverbank. The story goes: Villagers would sit around the grid and throw ingredients into the broth to cook; the more sections there were, the more people could join for dinner.
Cooking materials, broth flavourings and seasonings at Shu Xiangge Chinatown are imported from the Sichuan province, while they say fresh ingredients will be sourced from local London markets.
The two-floor restaurant has a capacity of 110 and the design wants to “highlight the cultural and historical aestheticism of ancient China,” and will feature replicas of Chinese ceramics, wooden vases and traditional paintings and crafts.
A wall-to-ceiling mural featuring a section of the masterpiece “Along the River During the Qingming Festival,” by the Song dynasty artist Zhang Zeduan. Dark wooden tables, chairs and ceiling lamps have also been imported from Sichuan.