Hot May Pot Pot in Knightsbridge: A hot pot experience like no other – sociable, civilised and incredibly scrumptious
Chinese hot pot has been around for thousands of years and is commonly enjoyed in the winter months. In my opinion, the colder it is outside, the more enjoyable the hot pot. Which brings us to a cold and blustery night in Knightsbridge, where Hot May Pot Pot has recently taken residence. Now, I’m no stranger to hot pot dining, but my experiences have always been noisy, lively affairs, either taking place in someone’s home or in a bustling Chinese restaurant. However, walking down Beauchamp Place surrounded by townhouses, boutiques and intimate restaurants, it’s safe to say I was out of my comfort zone.
The interior was serene and calm with bright and airy decor throughout. There were even cutesy finishing touches such as a lucky cat built from Lego on the front counter. At our table, we were given individual hot pots, which made a change from the huge communal pots I’m used to.
For drinks, we chose from a list of cocktails and landed on the Funky Dragon – vodka, Passoa, fresh pomegranate, fresh passion fruit, lime juice, sugar syrup, cranberry juice – and the Lady J – gin, elderflower liqueur, cucumber, green apple, lime juice, sugar syrup and apple juice. Both were refreshing and well balanced between sweet and sour.
For food, we kicked off with some cold starters which included the Sesame Cucumber, the Hot May Soya Soybean Salad with cured chicken, and the Hot May Cabbage Salad. The sesame cucumber had a refreshing bite paired with creamy nutty flavours and the soybean salad had a salty moreish quality that I couldn’t leave alone. The starters were authentic and seemed like a good sign of things to come.
To prepare the hot pot we needed to choose a broth. Getting the broth right is essential as this is what all your raw ingredients will be cooked in. We were given a choice of vegetable, chicken or oxtail and were told that the broths were made by boiling down each ingredient without adding any additional flavourings. This aligned nicely with their motto: “What you see is what you eat.” We chose chicken in one pot and oxtail in the other. These were poured into our pots along with coriander, a few goji berries and a single date. We were also given a dipping sauce on the side which consisted of a few simple ingredients – a light soy sauce, chilli, coriander and sesame seeds.
Now, onto the fun part. Our hot pots were lit and the broth was brought to the boil. The raw ingredients promptly arrived and we were presented with an impressive three-tier serving platter. We were told to start at the top and work our way down. The top tier was the meat course in the form of two different types of wagyu beef: rib eye M9 and striploin M8. These thinly sliced strips only needed around ten seconds submerged in the broth before they were ready to eat. The result? Delicious, tender, melt-in-the-mouth beef that had soaked up all the goodness from the broth.
Next up was the seafood tier. Here we had slices of seabass, kingfish, two very plump scallops, crab balls, squid balls and prawn cakes. The fish was particularly tasty as it was gently cooked, giving it a delicate and fragrant flavour. The prawn cake was also a highlight as it had a lovely meaty consistency while still retaining its sweetness. All of the seafood was accompanied with a spicy dipping sauce which gave this round a fiery kick.
Then it was onto the garden layer. We had oyster, shiitake, enoki mushrooms and two types of tofu. These were able to cook in the broth for a little longer and really absorbed all the beautiful flavours from the previous courses.
After that, we were presented with a selection of homemade rainbow noodles – green (spinach), orange (carrot) and purple (red cabbage). Once plunged into the broth, the noodles really came to life, boasting an array of vibrant colours. These were eaten with a dipping sauce topped with chilli and coriander.
To finish, we went for the Homemade Wagyu Pancake. This was made from minced wagyu beef, cabbage and red onions wrapped in a fried pancake that was ready to eat. The outside was golden and crispy before giving way to the juicy wagyu beef. In comparison to the other courses, this felt like quite a heavy dish to end on. However, it was incredibly scrumptious and luckily we still had room.
This was a hot pot experience like no other – from the way each course was carefully executed to our on-hand server helping us to cook each ingredient in the correct way. It was civilised, it was well thought out and each component was savoured as intended. But most importantly, it was fun. Even though this was a more formal approach to hot pot than I was used to, the concept was still the same: social and interactive dining executed with class.
Alex Julie Woods
Photos: Cristiana Ferrauti
To book a table at Hot May Pot Pot, 30 Beauchamp Place Knightsbridge London SW3 1NJ, call 020 3637 6666 or visit their website here.