Review of 'Haidilao Hot Pot'

Ever since the “Haidilao Hot Pot” branch opened up in Piccadilly Circus I have always noticed how busy it is with often a queue outside. Located inauspitiously between Five Guys and Bubba Gump on Coventry Street midway between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square you might be forgiven for not even noticing what it was, but you would be missing out. A bit of research online shows that this is a popular hot pot chain from China that is known for its exceptional customer service never mind it's delicious hot pot. Intrigued, we decided to give this a try for a Friday lunch, showing up a few minutes before it officially opened without a reservation…just as well we did as when we left a few hours later there was a much longer wait for tables.


On entering we were given a “queue number” ticket and asked to have a seat in the cool lounge area that occupies the main floor to wait for a table. Here we were given a packet of very delicious savoury snacks (much like “Bugles” if you know what they are - a deep-fried conical shaped snack). There is also a drink bar where you can order a number of different types of teas, yes, including bubble tea along with an array of ingredients on display that you can customise your drink with. There are also a number of board games you can use to pass the time. Despite being told of a 20 minute wait we were shown to our table in the basement seating area only a few minutes after we arrived.

The dining area in the basement consists of a large number of steep-walled booths that seat between 2 and 4 people (though with larger booths on the side seating larger groups). Sitting in a booth it is easy to forget you are sharing the room with many other people, only hearing the murmur of their voices from within your walled cocoon that never feels claustrophobic.

Each booth has a heating element in the middle of the table into which the metal pot containing your select soup base (or bases) slots into. Our booth was already prepared for us with a small portion of complementary (side dish) noodles and peanuts, along with wet wipes and a plastic bag. Our waiter immediately gave us full-length disposable plastic aprons, cold (tap) water and placed our coats into drawers under the seat.


He then explained how everything worked: We were given an iPad ordering device that listed the various soup bases we could choose from (between £8 and £16 each), also selecting the number of different flavours we wanted (up to 4). All soup bases are bottomless with the staff refilling ours throughout our stay without any prompting. Next you picked from the items you wanted to cook in the soup base along with any sides. We chose the “Tomato Soup Base” and a “Mala Spicy & Vegetable Oil (Clear Broth)” (total of £16 for both). We were warned against a very hot soup base on the menu so chose the one that was slightly less spicy (“Mala”) but this turned out to be WAY too spicy for us anyway so our waiter ended up trying to cool it down for us during our stay by skimming off some of the powerful oil and watering down the liquid…it did not help too much!

After ordering we were told to help ourselves to the any items in the self-service bar areas located at either end of the room with complementary fruit/vegetables (cherry tomatoes, tinned peaches and orange pieces), dessert (two sweet soups), and sides (two - the aforementioned cold noodle dish and another raw peanut dish, both delicious). These bars also had an impressive array of ingredients which you could use to make your own dipping sauce though this was an additional £4.50/pp.

Dessert, Sides and Sauce Bar

Our selected soup bases arrived very quickly but while waiting for them to heat up (the staff quickly got this going for us) we helped ourselves to some of the sides and fruit.

Free Sides

Our ingredients arrived a short time later: “Marinated Lamb” (£7.90), “Sliced Prime Beef” (£8.80), “Foshan Pork Meatballs” (£3.80), “Handmade Fish Mash” (£8.80) - which the waiter demonstrated by taking some of the paste on the serving plate in a spoon and releasing it into the broth, “Water Spinach” (£8.90) - very long, stringy greens that had to be folded in half to fit in the pot, “Taro Slices” (£3.60) and “Deep-Fried Tofu” (£3.60).

Soup Bases

All of this was very tasty indeed. The spicy soup ended up being way too hot for us (though we did try a few times to use it) so we ended up mostly using the tomato soup base which was really tasty, sort of like a mild tomato soup complete with portions of tomato floating in it. We would take what we wanted to eat and place it into the broth waiting for it to cook (often only a few minutes though the helpful menu does tell you how long it should take for each ingredient). We particularly enjoyed the two meats which were full of flavour and worked well with the tomato. The fish paste was another really tasty dish with the tomato base adding a gentle flavour to the flesh. The “taro slices” took a long time to cook and tasted not much of anything (basically like potato) and were hideously hot (in temperature) making eating very difficult.

Ready, Steady...Go!

Our helpful waiter had informed us that the tomato base was suitable for drinking and he also provided us with some dehydrated pork and celery to complement the broth as a soup (which we did for quite a few bowls towards the end of the meal).

We had ordered another item which was the cheapest on the menu: “Haidilao Signature Noodles” (£2.40) but were told it was best to wait until after we were done everything else so we did. When we were ready a young gentlemen arrived at the table sporting a white “Star Wars” t-shirt and a length of noodle pastry that he then stretched in amazing ways before splitting and dumping into the base of our choosing (tomato, of course). The thick but tender noodles were absolutely delicious and cooked in, of course, seconds.


We had left quite a mess on the table having spilled everywhere and used copious amounts of the (complementary) tissue paper that we then placed into the small, resealable plastic bag we had been given at the start of the meal along with our used wet wipe. We did manage to finish everything.


My companion also availed herself of the facilities and reported they were absolutely amazing with many lotions and considerations made to her visit along with, of course, being absolutely spotless.

At £71.77 including a 12.5% service charge this was not a cheap lunch but it was certainly quite an interesting experience. This is only our 2nd or 3rd time visiting a hot pot place but we are learning with each visit.

The ingredients here are incredibly fresh and the service is truly exceptional with our feeling made very welcome at all times despite our being amongst a very small minority of people present speaking English. Even though the place was absolutely packed we were never forgotten. Returning again we would definitely avoid the spicy soup base (!) and perhaps try making our own dip.

Despite the expense this has to be one of the best hot pot experiences I have ever had in the UK or abroad. In Haidilao we had probably the best service we have ever had in a restaurant. Amazing and wonderful place to visit.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2021-11-12

Cuisine: Chinese

Address: Unit 4 Trocadero Centre, GB London, 5 Piccadilly Circus, London W1D 7DH ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Piccadilly Circus TUBE Leicester Square

Location: London (England) - Piccadilly Circus



Show in Google Maps  Get Directions

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 8150 0616