The newest location of a Fatty Sheep hot pot was definitely a step above the original. The one we usually visit is located across from Metrotown. We immediately took note of how the decor was dressed here, how the dish set provided looked more refined, and how the ambience carried more class; even despite the and more rambunctious crowd in tonight. Large groups of rowdy men were here to eat and drink to their heart’s content. All you can eat for $20.98.
The decor was an improvement, even though it may not have been the best themed. We didn’t quite under stand the restaurant’s intended cabin feel. How the walls were intermittently laid with 70’s style wood paneling in alternating wooden tones. And how on each panel hung a framed oil painting of the country side in summer.
As per its original location, all condiments are a help yourself affair. Luckily we knew to look for it from previous visits, as we were not given any directions, nor was anything signed. The cart itself was hidden at the side of their cash desk too. We observed the room and followed the crowd. There a trolley cart by the cash desk laid it all before you. On it, metal tubs filled with various sauces and oils, with scoops swimming in them. Given its shopped through nature it wasn’t the most appealing set up, but sauce is sauce and you needed a good sauce for hot pot. Soy sauce, peanut sauce, hoisin sauce, chilli sauce, and chilli oil.
Your meal begins by checking off of a list, we as a table of three. The ingredients are all you can eat, but the soup base in which you need to cook it in comes at a cost, $9.98. The original house special mix, a spicy version, or a mix of both. Both broths ar no additional cost seemed like the best value. The pot is one, split into two halves by a welded on centre divide. Obviously something custom, as this pot seems like it would be a hassle in everyday cooking. The built in table coil heats up the broth, it is slow going. At this point you are hungry and anxious and waiting is no fun. Above each coil is a vent to suck up smoke, and a sprinkler if anything should catch on fire.
Through out the meal, when your broth or broths run low a server is able to top you off with a pitcher of soup. The same soup base goes into every pot, regardless of it being spicy or not. Though the spicy broth didn’t taste any spicer. I suspect it garnered its name from the abundance of chillies floating in the mix, though we only found them a hassle. We tediously fished each one out out. The spicy in the “house special spicy” referred to the use of chillis. Chillies that would make a mouthful spicy if you bit into one.
As for what goes into the soup, you
chose what you want through a series of numbers. Each item has its own serving and you number how many of each you want. Meats, seafood, meatballs, mushroom & fungus, wonton & dumplings, vegetable, tofu & gluten, and noodles. Everything to be cooked belonged to either one of these categories. With cooked items, additional condiments, and beverages listed as an additional cost. The grilled meat and seafood on skewers were $1.50 each, but the cold Korean appetizers came at no cost. In the future I may splurge on additional condiments like sesame oil, persevered bean curd, fresh chives, and garlic for only $1. Especially garlic, given how much my guests enjoyed eating the whole cloves that came as one of the many ingredients floating in the “house special broth”.
We have a strategy when it comes to all your can eat hot pot. It starts with a small order of the expensive stuff. You max the first round on the pricier items.This guarantees it won’t be forgotten or missed on purpose. And better yet, you enjoy it more on an empty stomach. The second round check off are the more familiar meets and vegetables. I am always disappointed at how much we are able to eat. We go in planning multiple rounds, only to barely complete two, then cooking down what we cannot finish in the pot. It’s like burning the evidence of being greedy. I doubt they reuse ingredients guests don’t finish, or at least I hope they don’t. And we are lucky that they don’t charge you extra for it. I dislike that policy. How do you know how much you can eat if you don’t try to eat all that you can?
We were given two scoops to share between three people. Ladles to fish out our desired ingredients. One with holes to only catch boiled food and drain out broth. And the second to scoop up everything in one fell swoop. I often hear the argument that hot pot is paying to cook for yourself. To them I say, it more about the experience than the actual meal. The need to choose ingredients as a group, and to negotiate what to put in brings a party together. It is bonding through food. Then when it comes time to scoop, you are able to be picky and just take what you want. And don’t forget, once the cooking is done you are left with a hearty soup, as all your chosen ingredients have added its flavour to the broth. Though drink it fast after you turn off the heat. Once it congeals it is not much to look at.
The staff were pretty hands off, a younger group that congregated around the cash desk. They chatted amongst themselves and waited for you to hail them. There was no conversation between each drop off, no check in to see if you were liking what you were having. Though technically ordering your desired items and having to cook it all yourself means, if you don’t like anything you only have yourself to blame. We were also not given any utensils to drop raw seafood and meats into the boiling pot. No communal use utensils. Though instead of attempting to a server’s attention and waiting for what I wanted, I felt I was better off stretching past our table’s barricade, to grab a few wrapped disposable chopsticks off the set table beside ours.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This is one of our preferred hot pot place for its extensive menu and its multiple sauces. Which include some interesting ingredients like squid tube, dried pork rinds, gluten, pork blood curd and bung, mutton balls, and kelp knots. Where often, hot pot becomes a one note flavour that grows tired on the palette. But here with its multiple offerings, you only stop eating because the meat sweats have begun. My tip don’t fill up on the noodles and eat your weight in meat. Don’t deny your cravings.