“Do We Really Want to Eat in China Town?”
I’ll admit I was a bit sceptical at the idea of eating in china town with it being such a tourist trap. I had only intended to go down to their Asian grocery stores to see if I could get any unusual ingredients. What I instead found was a rather exceptional dining experience.
Of course I had hot pots growing up but whether at home or in a restaurant they really weren’t that special but that was because the most important element was always lacking: the soup base. When you cook everything in it, it makes or breaks the meal.
In Shuang Shuang you are given a heater each and so we ordered two different stocks: the Black Bird and the Budae jjiage. The former is a base made from chicken, jujubes and Chinese wolfberries which had a lovely mellow flavour. The latter is a spicy Korean base added just today. I felt the layout of the table was very slick and practical.
After deciding your base the waiter asks what kind of dipping sauce you would like as well as various garnishes. The garlic and the spring onions I chose came in handy but I really didn’t need any more heat added to my spicy soup base.
What made this place a bit different was how the ingredients for your hot pot were not ordered but rather they were moved along a track in front of you exactly the same as a sushi train. It may be a bit gimmicky but it really is satisfying lifting what you want, when you want and then cooking it in the tiny pot in front of you.
With all the tools in front of you, all that’s left to do is to place your food into the soup and wait for it to cook. Which although it may seem like a hassle to wait, it really doesn’t take long with how thinly sliced the ingredients are. The menu even comes with a small guide to cooking times should you be less confident.
Like with sushi plates, the portion sizes of ingredients are small but so long as you pick yourself up a portion of noodles (or two in my greedy case) you can make yourself a delicious bowl of ramen for a competitive price. We even accidentally took advantage of the £9.90 ‘Market Set’ which included your broth, dipping sauce, noodles and three green plates which where not even the cheapest plates.
Beyond singing praises for this establishment, it was a pleasant surprise to have my previous opinion of hot pots changed for the better. Maybe it isn’t the most authentic place but with soup bases that good, it can’t be far off.