This is a textbook case of how NOT to run a restaurant in the West. They might get away with it in East Asia, if high food quality and value were there, because their value systems are different ('Live in a hovel; drive a BMW'). The Hotpot's décor and furniture are tatty, dirty, and stained, with rickety, rock hard seats that haven't seen a re-vamp in 30 years. Interior lighting is so poor you can't read the menu at some tables; printing it on dark-red card doesn't help either. The classic Chinese dish 'Cha Siu' is spelled 'Cha Sui': they couldn't even get that right.
Even the outside-window menu is in total darkness which is breaking the trading standards law; not a blown bulb but NO illuminaton fixture at all, just stuck to the glass in shadow. The exterior signage has no Chinese characters or anything to indicate it is, in fact, an oriental restaurant. The only music was a distant, tinny sound coming from the kitchen, presumably for the amusement of the chef.
Service was quick and the food not bad. They don't use MSG. I always specify 'no added salt' as well: it lets you taste the real food; there is usually some pre-added to Chinese meat dishes anyway. Have to be in shortly after 9 pm for 'last orders' as they close at 10.30 pm even on a Saturday when they could be reaping late pub traffic. Prices were moderate, as were portion sizes. Avoid the sweet and sour pork as they use far too much batter, serving many small fried batter pieces with no meat inside at all: a real con.
In summary: wouldn't return; hard to see how a restaurant which puts so little into its fabric and ambience can survive but it has been there for many years. For its size and supposed cachet, Cambridge, U.K. is one of the worst cities in the world for decent foreign cuisine, in good surroundings, at a reasonable cost. I've been here 8 years and am still looking. Additionally, the British are notorious for their blithe acceptance of half-baked, overpriced, faux Chinese cuisine, à l'anglaise, as the genuine article. Americans are more circumspect and are rewarded with better quality and value on home turf.
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