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“Dismal Surroundings; Acceptable Food”
2 of 5 bubbles Review of Hotpot - CLOSED

Hotpot
Price range: $31 - $41
Cuisines: Chinese, Asian
Dining options: Dinner, Seating
Restaurant details
Dining options: Dinner, Seating
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“Dismal Surroundings; Acceptable Food”
Reviewed September 22, 2013

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.

  • Visited September 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Mike2522
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

18 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    9
    4
    2
    3
    0
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
24 reviews
17 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Best Chinese in Cambridge!”
Reviewed August 11, 2013

I lived in Cambridge for years without going to this place and I seriously feel I missed out! After trying it once, it became my go to for Chinese and for take-away period! It is easy to miss, but once you go once, you'll realize you've been missing a hidden treasure. The woman who runs it is charming, warm, considerate and remembers all of her customers (and their back stories).

The food is always prepared fresh and is fantastic! The salt and pepper squid (or prawns) are so tasty and just the right amount of hot, the wonton soup is out of this world and the cashew chicken is fabulous. I don't eat duck any more, but when my boyfriend orders the duck noodles it is almost physically painful to resist!

I've since moved away from Cambridge and go back every single time I visit...and the owner always remembers me!

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
5 Thank SJL069
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
36 reviews
34 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Still excellent”
Reviewed March 6, 2013

I'm totally happy to stand by my previous excellent review. My last visit was a Chinese New Year Banquet, an annual event Kaling puts on by invitation for her regulars, and once again it was superb. I've never experienced anything other than a warm welcome, but perhaps if somebody wanders in thinking the owner is a waitress, possibly displaying an "attitude", it could explain a few things.

The restaurant's appearance is outdated, but I have never known it to be dirty. For food and overall value like this, it's a tradeoff I'll make every time, and it won't be long before I'm there again.

  • Visited February 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
6 Thank Rick_Cambridge_76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Harlow, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
87 reviews
55 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Dirty, outdated, rude”
Reviewed February 27, 2013

I can't believe the high rating of this place - from the pictures it is the same place but I definitely had a different experience. I found the place very outdated and dirty. The lady who served us was rude and we seemed an inconvenience to her. We had ordered food to take away and paid, the Waitress then came back to say they had run out of rice so she suggested we have a different kind of rice but wanted to charge us extra - it was only 30p or so but as they had run out of a basic Chinese food they wouldn't have charged us the extra. The food we ordered was ok - just front of house Issues mean I would not go again.

  • Visited February 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank S-M4X
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
52 reviews
31 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Good authentic Chinese food”
Reviewed November 5, 2012 via mobile

We've had takeaways and the occasional sit down meal at the Hotpot for years.

The food is good and the nearest I have found to the same dishes served in Malaysia and Singapore (where I lived for some years). Service is always friendly and pretty quick

The only downside is the ambience of the restaurant. I'm sure that with a bit of a makeover front of house, the ratings would climb fast

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank Jonathan C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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