Hot Pot is an Asian restaurant in Soho that was inspired by the Mongolian tradition of sharing a ‘hot pot’ (a large pot filled with broth and various ingredients) with family and friends. This communal style of eating later became popular throughout Asia and today there are thousands of hot pot varieties that can be found in Vietnam, Thailand, China and Korea, amongst other countries.
The 4,500 square-foot restaurant covers two floors and in addition to the main dining room, there is a private dining room that can be hired for larger groups. The décor features oxblood red booths, simple tables with wooden chairs and crackle-glazed jade tiles and industrial style light bulbs suspended from the ceiling behind the bar.
At Hot Pot guests are the star chefs as they choose every ingredient that goes into their own unique hot pot creation. Each table comes equipped with an induction burner, which guests use to prepare their own hot pot, filled with their choice of broth and fresh ingredients from meat to vegetables.
To begin making your hot pot, you first select from one of five broth varieties, each of which comprises more than 50 ingredients and is made fresh daily. Next, you select your ingredients – there are more than 60 dizzying options to choose from, which can be slightly overwhelming if you’ve never been before! There is also a sauce and toppings bar, so you can further customise your creations to your heart's content.
The hot pot making proved to be a fun experience as we waited in anticipation to see how our concoction of marinated beef, sliced pork, ho fun noodles, morning glory, shiitake mushrooms and fried tofu, would turn out. Thankfully, our selections proved to be a great choice.
The only thing we weren't crazy about was the chicken broth, which we found to be a bit on the bland side for our liking, but the fiery Mala Sichuan broth with dried chillies, Sichuan peppercorns, herbs and fermented beans was fabulous – although seriously hot – the servers warned us beforehand to ensure we were confident we could handle the heat!
Hot Pot is a nice alternative to the traditional Chinese restaurants found in China Town and is a great way to spend a relaxed evening with friends.
Our top tip for anyone visiting for the first time is to pick whatever ingredients you love as you can’t go wrong and ensure that you let your sauce linger as long as possible – it becomes thicker and more flavoursome as time goes on, proving that good things really do come to those who wait.
17 Wardour Street
Our experience overall
Food and drink: ★★★★
Staff attentiveness/friendliness: ★★★