As the winter chill grasps the city, it can only be time for one thing: hot pot season. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, diners choose from a range of broth bases that bubble away in the centre of the table, before everyone throws in whatever ingredient they damn well please. Once cooked, the meat, fish or vegetable of choice is ready to be dunked into a variety of dipping sauces. These are the best places to dive into London’s hot pot party: come on in, the water’s fine.Read More
11 Steaming Hot Pots to Dive Into in London
From Sichuan to Cantonese, discover broths heady with ma la, bone marrow, and blood, ready for dunking rare beef, squid, fish balls, tofu, and more
1. Muyang Hot Pot & BBQ
London W12 8QQ, UK
This restaurant is right on the money for big and bold hot pots. Think handmade fishballs, black fungus mushrooms, quail eggs, rice cakes and mussels. Be sure to tuck into the wide variety of barbecue meat, seafood and veggie skewers too — the perfect prelude while waiting for the hot pot to boil.
2. Tian Fu
Chef Zhang Xiao Zhong, who used to head up the acclaimed Barshu restaurant in Soho, has been quietly knocking it out the park at this low-key neighbourhood joint for years. Hidden just out of sight between the Westfield shopping centre and Shepherds Bush Green, it serves a long menu of traditional Sichuan fare, alongside hot pot. As expected from a Sichuan restaurant, prepare for delicious, crimson red, fiery broths that’ll blow heads off in a good way. Dunking hot pot ingredients include squid, beef, fish balls, radish and lotus root, but the fun part is in the pick and mix selection of dips and sauces ranging from tingling ma la chilli sauce to beautifully macerated garlic sauce, the perfect slam dunk. There’s also the option to build a Tian Fu special spicy soup or dry hot pot at home for six people, which is also available for takeaway and delivery.
3. Bin Bin Q Barbecue Market
The Xi’an barbecue skewers hog the limelight here — grilled pieces of skewered chicken gizzards, chicken wings, pork sausage or beef tendon dredged in cumin and chilli seasoning mix. Hot pot-wise, there are some unique dunking options: fresh biang biang noodles hand-pulled at the table dropped straight into the bubbling vat below; bouncy fish paste; and pig’s brain, which is essentially a porky sponge that absorbs the beautiful flavours of the broth as it cooks. Conveniently, diners can kill two birds with one stone and stock up on East Asian noodles, crisps and sweets at the supermarket that’s joined to the restaurant.
4. Shu Xiangge Chinese Hot Pot
London WC1A 1BH, UK
This undoubtedly Chinese-looking joint has a reputation for being hot. Extremely hot. The hot pot à la carte menu promises unique offerings like kidney, aorta, and tripe; what sets this place apart is its 9-section hot pot where diners can mix-and-match soup bases and spice levels. Be prepared: it’s cash-only and prone to getting extremely busy. One to book ahead. Also in Shepherd’s Bush.
Vegetarians and vegans look away now. This nose-to-tail Sichuan hole-in-the-wall specialises in traditional ingredients drenched in their signature crimson red, super-spicy numbing broth. Expect plenty of tripe, marinated meat skewers, sliced white fish, crispy pig’s ears and Chengdu dan dan noodles. Cash only for eat-in and available for delivery where diners can create their own dry or soup hot pot combo, choosing up to four Sichuan hot pot ingredients and different spice levels for the dipping bath.
6. Happy Lamb Hot Pot Restaurant
London WC1A 1AD, UK
Mongolia-based chain Little Sheep Hot Pot arrives in London with four soup bases: “milky” bone marrow broth; spicy bone marrow broth; pickled cabbage broth; and tomato broth. Opt for either half and half or split three-ways. The usual hot pot suspects make an appearance like a wide selection of choi, noodles and thinly slices of beef, pork and tripe, but the fresh lamb loin is cooked on a hot slab of slate that’s tilted at an angle, so all the meaty cooking juices flow right into the stock getting more delicious as time goes on. Plenty of options for the non-meat eaters, too. Fish tofu, fish with tobiko, an impressive seafood platter served on a bed of ice, homemade potato noodles and taro vermicelli noodle bundles.
7. Crystal China
Thought hot pot meant simmering ingredients in flavoursome broth and causing a bigger dripping mess than Splash Mountain? Think again. Crystal China specialises in dry hot pots cooked in ma la, and ingredients are ordered by weight. Vegetarians and vegans can rest easy with loads of meat-free options to choose from including aubergine, taro cake, bamboo shoot, black fungus, tofu puffs and mooli. For the carnivores in the party, Chinese lap cheong sausage, chicken gizzard, beef balls, fried fish bean curd and Thai sausage await.
8. Sichuan Folk
What better place to warm the heart than this little Sichuan eatery just off Brick Lane? Sichuan Folk is known for its herbal and healing tonic broths loaded with jujube red dates, ginseng, ginkgo nuts and lotus root. Hoover up the lunchtime deals or the all-you-can-eat hot pot option for £22.80 per person where there’s luncheon meat, thinly sliced beef, prawns, mussels and fishballs galore. Fancy going it alone or in a small household? Try the off-the-menu ‘Maicao’ instant spicy steam pot that combines the best bits of a classic hot pot dipping ingredient menu like luncheon meat, crab sticks, enoki mushrooms and lotus roots with scorching ma la soup-sauce.
9. 聚贤庄Water House Restaurant
An unassuming Hunanese restaurant serving hot pot alongside a signature “Chairman Mao’s” red braised pork and fried pork intestine with chilli. Order the whole fresh seabass that’s deboned and spatchcocked, splayed out and ready to be dunked whole head and all. There’s also the special blowout Chongqing-style crayfish hot pot simmered in star anise, numbing Sichuan peppercorn and bay leaves, which is the Chinese answer to a Louisiana crawfish boil. Be warned: it is messy, so don’t wear white. Dry wok hot pot variations available for delivery too.
10. Shan Shui Jian Lamb Hot Pot
Shan shui jian literally translates as “lamb hot pot,” which is this Limehouse restaurant’s most popular dish. Other than lamb with herby lamb spine broth, opt for the boiled beef with chilli, dong gua — winter melon — and frozen tofu, as it holds its shape better when cooking than its room temperature counterpart. Jellyfish with black vinegar and mixed chicken gizzards with chilli are excellent side dish accompaniments. Diners can also get the Dongbei hot pot experience at home, as the restaurant also offers dry and spicy pots with fermented broad bean paste as a hot pot base, with a choice of meat and vegetable toppings. Orders over £20 get 10 percent off.
11. Super Three Hotpot Plus BBQ
London E14 0ED, UK
Super Three takes the traditional hot pot and takes it up a notch with the obvious accompaniment: charcoal barbecue. It’s one for the indecisive, those who struggle to decide between comforting, silken broths and charred, deeply caramelised meats. Highlights include marinated enoki, squid and beef slices. For hot pot at home, choose a soup base, dipping sauce, and five ingredients, and get it delivered.