Friends, I may have just had the best meal I’ve eaten in Edinburgh…and maybe even throughout the United Kingdom. After many disappointing restaurant experiences this past year, there is finally a place that has redeemed Edinburgh’s restaurant scene for me.
Allow me to introduce Lian Pu. Now, there are two restaurants under the Lian Pu name. There is the cafe that serves quick Chinese food at affordable prices that satisfies my Chinese-food cravings. Then, if you go downstairs, they have a hot pot and barbecue restaurant…and this is AMAZING.
If you aren’t familiar with hot pot, I’d describe it as “Soup Fondue.” You’re given a huge pot of boiling broth and you basically dip meat, seafood, noodles, and vegetables in the soup to cook it before eating it.
Now, I’ve always enjoyed hot pot. I love soup, noodles, and yummy sauces. I’ve waited almost 2 hours to eat at Boiling Point in Fremont when it opened and when deciding where to go for a team outing, my co-worker and I once convinced our entire department to take the bus from Downtown SF to Japantown on a Wednesday night to eat Shabu-Shabu (Japanese hot pot). My favorite though is having it at home with friends and family.
The hot pot and barbecue area is located in the basement of the restaurant so there are no windows. Once you enter, you feel as though you’ve entered a different world. You’re no longer in Edinburgh. I felt as though I was back in Arcadia or Garden Grove. You’ll hear beautiful sounds of Chinglish and smell that aroma of mala (麻辣) and meat broths. Because of the steam from the meats and broth, it’s warm and toasty inside, far from the cold and windy Edinburgh weather you just walked through.
All-You-Can-Eat Hot Pot is £16 per person. While it’s not cheap (especially on Andrew’s “I’m a Student!” budget), it’s totally worth it (if we converted it to USD, it’d probably come out to $20-21 right now which isn’t that bad). Even if we were to do hot pot at home, we’d probably spend £25-30 on just ingredients that you might run out of while having to wash dishes afterwards.
When we arrived, the staff gave us a laminated menu with a dry-erase marker and we marked the items we wanted for our hot pot. They have a really great selection of broths, meats, seafood, vegetables, noodles, and even dumplings. They have everything I could possibly want in my hot pot and the food is high quality. You can choose 1 or 2 soup bases.
While waiting for the food to come, we walked over to the sauce table. At this table, you are able to get all the sauces you could possibly want to dip your food in. The variety is great and you’re able to mix the sauces to your liking. The sauce selection includes everything I like and you don’t have to pay extra for sauces.
You can also order boba at Lian Pu. On this particular day, I treated myself to a milk tea with boba and grass jelly since I didn’t have boba for 2 months. It was just okay. Boba was sweet, but not very chewy and the grass jelly seemed overly sweetened.
For dessert, they had red bean and custard buns steaming in the back that we were able to take (for free!). I often find myself craving steamed baos (They don’t sell fresh ones at the Chinese markets here, it’s way too difficult to make from scratch, and we don’t have a freezer or proper steamer to buy the ugly frozen ones) and I was finally able to eat that fluffy white bread.
Last but not least, this spot is the best because the restaurant isn’t overly crowded with queues going out the door like many hot pot restaurants I’ve been to in California. We chatted a while after we were done and left the restaurant at a leisurely pace (not feeling rushed).
Lian Pu, you just might be my favorite restaurant in all of Scotland. 🔥 🍲 😋