Restaurant Review: Hot Pot, Wardour Street in London
Nestled in the heart of Chinatown, on the renowned Wardour Street, is the new Asian phenomemon that is Hot Pot. The flagship restaurant opened in March this year and is proving very popular indeed. The owner has branches in Thailand and interestingly, has just opened the first Burger and Lobster restaurant out there.
The Hot Pot philosophy is that eating together in large groups enriches bonding and cooking together, over the pot, encourages teamwork, planning and experimentation. Diners are encouraged to eat at a slow, leisurely pace, in large groups, so there are no set dining times or restrictions on numbers, there is also a private dining area for 8 people. The restaurant is spacious and decorated neutrally with large wooden tables and booths with deep red leather seats. The atmosphere was buzzing, with groups of happy diners tucking into steaming pots.
On arrival Theo and I were warmly welcomed and started the evening with a delicious Yuzu cocktail. The new menu is extensive, with a large selection of dim sums and appetisers and, of course, the hot pots. There are 7 basic broths to choose from, all brewed with botanicals and herbs to give them health boosting properties. These are simmered for hours to develop the flavours and diners then choose from an array of ingredients to add to the broth, which is cooked at the table on a burner.
We chose a drunken chicken and a collagen broth and the waiter brought us a selection of vegetables, including pak choi, cabbage, various mushrooms, sweetcorn and carrots and noodles alongside seafood and meat platters. The seafood platter included tiger prawns, squid, razor clams, scallops and mussels and the meat choice was cubed angus beef, kurobuta pork and slice pork collar (bacon). We added all these to the broths and got cooking! It was an immensely enjoyable experience and we loved dipping in our ladles, not knowing what flavour combination we would find. The delicately cooked meats and fish are then dipped in a variety of sauces, ranging from soy sauce, hot and sour and a spicy hot pot special sauce. Our pots were accompanied with a selection of prawn dim sum, char sui pork rolls and jasmine rice and were delicious.
The dessert menu is small but very unusual, with options such as hot sweet adzuki bean soup, a flower jelly and Japanese sweet adzuki red beans with shaved ice. We opted to share sweet coconut palm sugar pandan pancakes with coconut ice cream. The pancakes were bright green in colour and were served warm and were packed full of sticky coconut and sugar, Theo described it as ‘asian baklava!’ The coconut ice cream was delicately flavoured and cut though the sweetness of the pancakes perfectly.
Hot pot is an exciting and interesting dining experience. The ingredients are fresh and healthy and you can taste and smell the love that has gone into producing the steaming broths. This is clean eating at its very best, with a sharing philosophy that brings people together to create, socialise and bond. Health conscious diners flock here for food that not only tastes good but does you good from the inside out. It’s a great place for large groups, families or for a first date. Go and try it, you won’t be disappointed.
Address: 17 Wardour Street, London, W1D 6PJ / 02072878881 / hotpotrestaurants.co.uk