Hot pot is a traditional Chinese way of eating by dipping raw meat, vegetables, seafood, fish or even noodles into a flavoured broth.
Even though the most popular type of hot pot is the traditional Chinese version, there are many different styles of hotpot within China and many other countries like Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and Japan have their own versions aswell.
When we visited the restaurant “Hot Pot” in Chinatown as a group of 6, we ordered 4 types of broth and a variety of vegetables, beef and chicken cuts and fish and seafood.
We ordered a Mala spicy broth with a lot of Szechuan peppercorn and chilli, a Thai coconut green curry broth, a Tom Yum Goong hot and sour broth and a mushroom broth.
Typically Hot Pot restaurants have a station where customers can mix their own dipping sauces.
There is a wide range of options like soy sauce, chilli paste, chilli oil, crushed peanuts, sesame oil and sesame paste, chopped cilantro, garlic or scallions etc.
We recommend not to just mix everything as the outcome may be nasty. However, the motto here is learning by doing and developing an own taste and preferences.
Also ordering in multiple rounds can be beneficial, as it can get very tight and uncomfortable on the table if on top of the drinks, plates, sauces and broths, 10 little plates are brought out at the same time.
Most of the meats and fish only need few minutes (and the restaurants often provide the cooking times). However, if you have for example beef cubes or vegetables that require more time like potatoes it is recommended to put them in first so they can sit and cook in the broth while you are busy with the other ingredients.
When choosing what ingredients to put in next, it is good to keep in mind that some ingredients might change the constancy and flavour of the broth.
Therefore fish and seafood might make the broth a bit fishy and is often not ordered until the second round.
Also potatoes or noodles might give off starch and that may change the consistency of the broth.
I have been to Hot Pot with a vegetarian friend of mine and it was no problem what so ever to order a vegan broth and delicious vegetables like lotus root, tofu and fish for him, which he enjoyed very much.
Overall Hot Pot was an amazing experience for all of us and is ideal for the whole family or a group of friends as it is fun, communicative and extremely tasty and adjustable to personal preferences. It can also be a lot of fun for two people. However, it might be a bit pricey for a couple or two friends to share.
17 Wardour Street, London, W1D 6PJ