Have we found Sydney’s craziest hot pot spot? Step inside the chaotic yet irrefutably charming hot pot haven that is Spice World, nestled in the heart of Sydney’s Chinatown. Be greeted by robots at the entrance and make your way through an immaculately presented interior, shimmying past sleek marble tables, fire engine red patterned walls and a dizzying mirror-clad ceiling. It’s a sleek and futuristic setting that will have you feeling kind of like you’ve fallen into another dimension. A delicious-smelling one, that is.
With the Sydney venue being just one among hundreds of others around the world, Spice World is China’s biggest hot pot chain with a loyal following. Their whole concept is traditional hot pot with a modern twist; yes, that’s exactly where the robot waiters come in! However, that’s not Spice World’s only notable quirk. One of the prizewinning picks on the menu is their Wagyu Beef Barbie, draped in pieces of raw marbled beef to mimic the shape of a doll’s dress. We simply had to drop in to witness the Lady Gaga vibes for ourselves.
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COMIN’ IN HOT… POT 🥘 @spiceworldaustralia Yes, yes that is a Barbie in a meat dress. 💁♀️ Spice World’s menu is SO SO SO fun, and there are just so many options for your hot pot that the opportunities are quite literally endless. Beef brisket? You got it. Seafood platter? Delish. Pork kidney or brains? I mean sure, go wild. We want to go back again and again and again, just work our way through the menu! Where’s your fave hot pot spot in Sydney?
Flicking through the menu is actually quite an effort, particularly for those who struggle to make a decision (cough — us — cough). It is an intense menu with some seriously cool, seriously mouthwatering picks, making any final decisions near impossible to reach. Fortunately, that’s just how we like it when it comes to Sichuan cuisine.
Naturally, hot pot is the star of the show at Spice World. You can pick your soup base, whether it’s a powerful spicy concoction or a more mild mushroom broth. Another one of Spice World’s fantastic quirks is the option of having your stock cube shaped as Hello Kitty, a dog, or a teddy bear. Placed at the centre of the hot pot, the waiter pours the hot pot base over your funky stock character until it all melts away into flavoursome deliciousness. We chose the super cute dog, but we do admit, it was mighty sad waving goodbye as he disintegrated into our steaming hot soup.
For those unfamiliar with Chinese hot pot, the idea is to serve a sizzling hot base with raw ingredients on the side to cook as you go. It’s a fun and interactive way of dining, and naturally very messy. If there’s one thing we do exceptionally well when it comes to hot pot, it’s leaving the tables a bit grubby. We think most people do, though. Thankfully, you’re left in the capable (but not overbearing) hands of Spice World’s staff who will make it their mission clean up after you regularly.
To accompany our chosen broths (wild mushroom and classic spicy), we chose a deluxe seafood platter, the famous Wagyu Beef Barbie, a platter of vegetables and dense, chewy noodles. On the side, we snacked on crispy chicken with the most delectable dry spice dipping condiment we ever did have the pleasure of tasting. Not to be dramatic, but we would die for this crispy chicken and dry spice combo.
And while we’re on the topic of condiments, another one of Spice World’s wow-factors is the condiment station itself. Well, more like ‘condiment all-you-can-eat buffet’. With dishes upon dishes of different flavours to choose from, take your pick from sesame oil, soy bean sprout sauce, a peanut-buttery satay sauce, shrimp paste, mushroom paste, coriander, crispy shallots… look, if we continue to list them we’ll be here all day. Let’s just say the spread is massive and the condiment combinations are essentially infinite. If you get stuck, there’s even a super cute row of DIY condiment recipes to follow that help you choose which flavours complement each other best. One word: obsessed.
The overall experience is one everyone should try at least once in their life. It’s more about the journey than the destination, meaning the act of sharing hot pot with a group or a loved one is half the fun of it all. Try new things. Play around with sauces. Share your thoughts and feelings around the table. You can even order serves of Porcine brains, tripe or duck-blood jelly if you’re feeling extra adventurous. Spice World does hot pot exceptionally and extravagantly, no holds barred.