A global dining phenomenon from China has hit West London. TOM PARKER BOWLES gives it 3.5 stars – here’s why

Yang Guo Fu Malatang is a chain of Chinese-hotpot restaurants with over 6,000 branches across Asia, Australia and North America. But despite its immense size, YGF retains something of a cultish reputation, each new opening greeted with social-media hysteria, a thousand tremulous TikTok videos and queues that spill way out of the door. 

Which makes the arrival of its first UK outlet, in London – without fuss, fanfare or a whisper of PR – all the more intriguing.

Sure, its Hammersmith Broadway location is hardly the most salubrious. But then YGF– predominantly a franchise business – is all about consistency and speed of service meaning that, with a few local idiosyncrasies, you’re slurping the same bowl of spicy soup from Bellevue to Brisbane, Hong Kong to Hangzhou. 

Who cares if the view is a little drab, the room sparsely utilitarian, the music sickly-soppy Chinese pop, and the lighting more suited to a morgue? It makes me love it all the more.

At Yang Guo Fu Malatang, says Tom, ‘You take a bowl and pick your ingredients from its version of a Harvester salad bar’

And while it has similarities to traditional Sichuan hotpot (the spicy ‘ma la’, or ‘numbing and hot’ broth), you don’t gather around the communal pot, dipping in various bits and body parts, rather take a bowl and pick your ingredients from its version of a Harvester salad bar.

The beef broth is very good: slightly sweet with a creamy depth  

The choice is vast, as much about texture as it is flavour: slippery, sweet potato vermicelli (there are ten different varieties of noodle) and kelp, soft tofu puffs, the cartilaginous crunch of wood ear mushroom and delicate fronds of tripe. Bouncy fishballs and meatballs come in every hue and size.

You then choose your broth (beef, from mild to extra-spicy; veggie tomato or dry spice) and are charged by the weight of your ingredients. Five minutes later and your bowl, seething red and steaming hot, is placed before you. Add extra chilli, soy, vinegar or mashed garlic to taste. 

The beef broth is very good indeed, made from slow-simmered beef and pork bones, slightly sweet, with a creamy depth not dissimilar to a proper tonkotsu ramen broth. 

And while the extra-spicy packs a decent punch, it doesn’t entirely decimate the tastebuds – a brow-beader rather than edible Armageddon. YGF may not be a place to linger, but it’s a fine place to eat. Get there before the TikTok hordes descend. 


About £18 per head. Yang Guo Fu Malatang, 8 Hammersmith Broadway, London W6


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