Chinese New Year is just around the corner, so we thought we’d take a trip down to Chinatown to get our fix of Chinese food ahead of the festive spirit.
We headed to Chinatown’s latest addition – Shuang Shuang 爽爽 – for some hotpot.
Hotpot is a style of eating where you have a pot of broth bubbling away in the centre of the table, and you have loads of ingredients to cook in the broth to your liking. What sets Shuang Shuang apart from the rest of Chinatown is not only it’s dazzling clean modern decor, but also it’s delivery of the food to you. You have seen sushi being delivered to you on a conveyor belt that bends around the restaurant. Well Shuang Shuang brings you the ingredients for your hotpot in the same way! Pretty cool to be honest and we couldn’t wait to get eating.
We opted for the sharing table, rather than the individual hotpots – because sharing is caring and it’s more fun! So this meant we could choose a two flavour hotpot. We opted for the Mala 麻辣 (dried chilli, Sichuan peppercorn, house herb mix, fermented broad beans) and the Blackbird 乌鸡 (black chicken, jujubes, Chinese wolfberries). We thought this would give us a good contrast of strong and subtle flavours. However, this duo broth set us back £22.50! And that’s before adding any ingredients.
Shuang Shuang’s menu boasts a large variety of different ingredients to choose from. But unfortunately we only saw the same few choices of beef, vegetables, salmon and a mixture of fish and meat balls on offer. Not sure if this was because it was a Monday night, or if it was because we were sat on the top floor.
The other thing about hotpots, is that you can customise your dipping sauce too. There’s loads of different combinations of sauces, herbs, and chilies that you can add together. At Shuang Shuang, they have their House Sauce, which the waitress told us had soy, vinegar, sesame and red beancurd paste mixed together. Sadly, this wasn’t anything special and lacked in flavour. So we say, be brave and ask to mix your own sauce! They’ll bring you sesame 芝麻 paste, sha cha 沙茶 sauce, red beancurd 紅腐乳 paste, garlic paste, spring onion, chilli , coriander and sesame seeds. You’ll be surprised at how amazing all the flavours taste together!
When you’re eating out, it’s very easy to overeat. At hotpot, it’s no different. At Shuang Shuang the danger is even greater – with seriously small portions and the convenience of grabbing whatever takes your eyes’ fancy from the belt! So be careful and take note of the prices of each coloured plate. The majority on offer when we went were “green” plates which were priced at £1.80 each. For this price, you could get a handful of spinach, 3 fish balls (a pack of about 15 – 20 only costs a few pounds in a Chinese supermarket), or a few thin slices of beef. How about a small handful of mixed mushrooms for £2.30? If we’re talking seafood – 3 slices of salmon would cost you £4.30. Is this worth it? We’ll let you decide. But we certainly didn’t think it was.
Add to this the fact that when we sat down, we were immediately told that we only had the table for one and a half hours. It wasn’t very busy on the top floor at the time and that pretty much put us off. Especially since traditionally, hotpot is something that the Chinese can eat away at for hours!
So overall we’ve only giving Shuang Shuang 2 yums. The food was overpriced for what it was. As much as the ingredients were fresh, we cooked it ourselves in average tasting broths. The bill came to £60 for 3 of us and all we had were 12 small plates of food and 3 non-alcoholic drinks. No we were no close to being full at all. We were told that Shuang Shuang has already reduced their prices since they first opened a few weeks ago! If you’ve never had hotpot before and you want something quick and easy then maybe give Shuang Shuang a chance.
But if you want the real deal, then we’d recommend going to the hotpot restaurants within Chinatown instead.
Opening times: Mon-Thu 1200-2300, Fri- Sat 1200-2330, Sun 1200-2200
Location: 64 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 6LU