I am proudly Chinese. Increasingly, I am finding that Londoners are becoming more familiar with hotpots as more and more hotpot eateries are popping up across town. It is the Chinese tradition and culture to have hotpots at this time of the year and what can be hotter and steamier than a boiling hotpot?
The restaurant – Situated just five minutes away from Harrods in Knightsbridge, Hot May Pot Pot has been opened by a charming team from Harbin, North China. It is sumptuous in style with outside floral decorations creating a warm welcome. Inside, two floors of more sumptuousness with comfortable leather booths and individual hotpots for every guest.
Ingredients – It’s not all torsos and teeth as they clearly pride themselves on providing top-notch ingredients from land and sea. In China, and particularly Hong Kong, fresh seafood is a must-have for hotpots which can be a struggle in London – not to mention ingredients like wagyu beef, geoducks (more on those later), sea cucumbers and fresh lobsters. Hot May has it all.
From the land, it has a wide variety of wagyu beef slices with beautiful marbling giving it tenderness and flavour – ranging from A4 wagyu to M5 rib eye – They even have a halal wagyu option too. Don’t forget to order some dipping sauces salads and sauces. Our favourites was a sesame sauce with a salted peanut salad.
The Broth – When you have the ingredients ready, what’s next? Obviously, the broth! First of all, No MSG – seriously? It is so rare to see restaurants that have no MSGs in their food (not even in their soy sauce). Back to the broth – there are three: Chicken, vegetable and their signature broth, oxtail.
Oxtail broth – The broth itself has been stewed for hours giving this flavourful taste of ox tails. When I tasted the broth on its own it tasted clean, clear, fresh and strong – just the way they do it in China. This broth is easily the best one I have had in London. When I dipped the wagyu beef in the broth, it just intensifies the taste of the beef.
Don’t like hotpot? Don’t worry. There are also other options including oysters and sashimi. We also tried one of the signature dishes – a wagyu Pancake with delicate minced wagyu beef, cabbage and red onions. They also have Canadian Geoduck sashimi which is the world’s largest clam. We didn’t sample it but we are told it has a delicate and crunchy texture with a sweet taste and is served alive at the table.
To finish, we tried a weird sounding but delightful white fungus with dates and goji berries, a clever combination of sweet and savoury with the sweetness from the dates balancing the subtle yet earthy taste of dried fungus.
Drinks – With a cocktail list to rival most bars, there is a big choice including original cocktails, champagne cocktails and the classics. From the original list, we tried a well balanced Lady J with gin, elderflower, cucumber, green apple, lime and apple juice.
The detail – Sometimes, small things make a big difference. Friendly front of house, wiping the tables after each dish, having coasters for our drinks and other tiny details make Hot May stand out. Importantly, there is also a great level of air ventilation so you don’t smell like a walking hotpot when you leave.
For the Chinese readers, the name of this place “Hot May” is a homophone of “tasty” in Chinese which I can easily confirm is very true.
To discover more and book, visit: www.hotmay.co.uk
By Josh Fat