Let’s start the morning with a little history lesson. Did you know that the humble dish, hot pot has over a 1000 years history in China? It’s believe that it originated in Mongolia before spreading to China during the Tang Dynasty, and it has now found itself in Chinatown on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Wardour Street.
Shuang Shuang, which opens in January, is the work of Fan Sundravorakul who ran a collection of restaurants in Thailand before moving to London. Occupying an Old Victorian building and split across two floors it is London’s first specialist hot pot restaurant. If you’re not actually sure what a hot pot is or just have visions of some lamb dish your Granny makes when it gets cold, then let us educate you. A Chinese hot pot is traditionally a large pot of simmering stock which is sunk lower in the table and is used to cook a whole number of different ingredients.
At Shuang Shuang you’ll start with snacks including fish and seaweed floss; pomelo salad with Lap Cheung (a traditional Chinese sausage); Canton’s orange squid; duck and sour plum skewers and Xin Jiang spiced ribs. Then you’ll move on to the hot pot, which is what you’ll be there for. You can choose from five broths, we’re liking the sound of the Lamb Tonic made with lamb bones and Chinese pickled cabbage but they’ve all got wonderful names like Monk’s Broth and Bird Berry. Moving around the room on a conveyor belt will be over fifty different ingredients for you to cook in your pots, there could be: brown crab claws, Chinese pea shoots, fish heads, clams, queen scallops, beef and chicken balls, lotus roots, rice cakes, British beef and pork and fresh oyster – quite the variety.
If the thought of having to cook your own hot pot seems a little daunting or you’re the sort of person who would have clammed up at Ready Steady Cook when they were given a bag of random ingredients then panic not, they’ll be recipe cards for you to follow to create delicious combinations.
Finish deep fried Chinese dough sticks flavoured with condensed milk and crush nuts or soy milk curd which is crafted by a local Chinatown artisan and is topped with lychee granita, whipped cream and a mango coolie. To drink will be their own bubble tea, papaya milk, Chrysanthemum tea, grass jelly tea and beers from Taiwan, Harbin, Yanjing and a Chinese pineapple beer.
On the ground floor things are kept informal with grey floors, chestnut chairs, a Beijing –inspired jade coloured wall with brass studs and shelves of Chinese memorabilia from Fan’s collection. Upstairs things get a little more intimate and atmospheric, an intricate lattice wall will feature Chinese watercolour-inspired artworks by Xochi Solis – which have been especially commissioned for the restaurant. They’ll also be the option of counter eating with individual hot pots, booths for hot pot sharing or if you feeling especially frivolous your own hot pot chef may be requested – check you out.
Shuang Shuang: Opens 4th January, 64 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 6LU, www.shuangshuang.co.uk