This November will see the launch of London’s first specialist Chinese hot pot restaurant, Shuang Shuang, which will open in Chinatown at 64 Shaftesbury Avenue.
Hot pot is a dish with over 1,000 years of Chinese history, thought to have originated in Mongolia before spreading to China during the Tang Dynasty. It comprises a generous pot of simmering stock, traditionally sunk into the table, which is then used to cook an abundance of ingredients – from paper thin pork slices and bouncy fish balls, to offal and leafy Asian greens, not forgetting a great variety of flavourful dipping sauces. Across China, East Asia and South East Asia, hot pot is shared between families and friends, and every region will offer their own take on the dish.
The menu at Shuang Shuang will begin with snacks including Fish and Seaweed Floss; Pomelo Salad with Lap Cheung (a traditional Chinese sausage); Canton’s Orange Squid (sourced from a Chinatown favourite); Duck and Sour Plum Skewers; and Xin Jiang Spiced Ribs.
There will be five different broths to choose from, to begin your very own hot pot: Bird Berry (made from a rare breed of black-fleshed chicken and dried Chinese berries); Mala (made with Sichuan peppercorns and dried chilli); Herbal River (created with prawn heads and fresh lemongrass); Lamb Tonic (made with lamb bones and Chinese pickled cabbage); and Monk’s Broth (with soy milk, turnips and mushrooms). These broths pay respect to China’s diverse food cultures – from the cold, game-loving North, the spicy Sichuan, to the bountiful South – and make use of some of the finest produce available in the UK.
Seated at their very own individual hot pot, diners will choose from amongst the fifty-or-so of the freshest British and Chinese ingredients on a passing conveyor belt to add to their simmering stockpot and cook for themselves. These ingredients may include: bowls of thinly sliced free-range British Beef and Pork; Mixed Clams; Sea Bass Slices; secret recipe Beef and Chicken Balls; Pork and Crab Wontons; Chinese Pea Shoots and Mustard Leaves; Turnip Leaves and Lotus Roots; Pumpkin slices and Wood’s Ear Mushrooms; Noodles; Rice Cakes; Fresh Oysters (shucked to order); Queen Scallops; Fish Head of the Day; Brown Crab Claws; or Pork Offal Mix. Any combination is possible for the brave and adventurous, while recipe cards are available for hot pot novices to recreate China’s most loved combinations.
For sweet treats, there will be Soy Milk Curd, crafted by a local Chinatown artisan, topped with lychee granita, whipped cream and mango coolie; and Deep Fried Chinese Dough Sticks with flavoured condensed milk and crushed nuts. The drinks menu will list Papaya Milk; Chrysanthemum Tea; Grass Jelly Tea; and Shuang Shuang’s own “Bubble Tea”. There will be beer from Taiwan, Harbin and Yanjing, as well as a Chinese pineapple beer.
Behind this brand new Chinese inspired restaurant is Fah Sundravorakul, who ran a collection of restaurants in Thailand, before moving to London. These included Imperial Duck, which specialises in ‘London style’ roast duck; Boon Tong Kee, an outpost of Singapore’s most famous chicken rice restaurant; and Yamagoya, offering regional Japanese ramen. Fah, originally from a Teochew-Thai background, has travelled extensively across Taiwan, China and Japan over the years, always indulging in the comfort of a local hot pot. This has inspired him to create Shuang Shuang.
‘Hot pot is something I have enjoyed ever since I was a child – at family get-togethers, birthdays, anniversaries and celebrations. It is a part of my Chinese heritage that I am very proud of. Hot pot is all about sharing and cooking good food with friends and family – choosing the ingredients, and creating something delicious together.
I have always dreamed of opening a restaurant in Chinatown. It’s a part of London that is full of so many hidden treasures, like where to find the best bouncy dumplings, or some really wobbly tofu curd. Shuang Shuang will showcase not only my interpretation of Chinese hot pots but also specialist Chinese ingredients sold by our neighbours – a celebration of the community that exists in Chinatown, underneath the surface of its touristy reputation’, says Fah.
Shuang Shuang will occupy an old Victorian building on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Wardour Street. Split over two floors, the restaurant works time honoured Chinese features into a contemporary setting. An oak clad conveyor belt made from stainless steel will wind through the restaurant; the off-white Corian counter tops are lined on either side with individually sized stockpots ready for each diner; while the floor to ceiling windows invite the light and bustle of the West End.
The informal ground floor dining room is reminiscent of how hot pot is served on the everyday tables of China and Asia. There will be a soft grey resin floor to contrast with mid-century walnut chairs; a combination of grey textured and lattice walls; and a Beijing-inspired jade-coloured wall decorated with brass studwork. Suspended from the ceiling are stainless steel shelves adorned with Fah’s collection of treasured porcelains and memorabilia from China.
Ascending to the first floor via an oak staircase, diners will be led to a more moody space. An intricate lattice wall featuring Chinese watercolour-inspired artworks by Xochi Solis (especially commissioned for Shuang Shuang) will be the design centerpiece. Diners can opt between counter seating with individually sized hot pots and upholstered leather booths with large partitioned hot pots for sharing, and your very own hot pot chef may be requested too.
64 Shaftesbury Avenue