Nothing brings me more eating joy then to gather non-Asians to try hot pot for the first time. Hot Pot is where you cook your food at your table; essentially in a boiling pot that is hot. You pick your soup broth and in goes your chosen ingredients, as soon as it boils. When cooked you scoop out what you want to eat. This is best enjoyed with a larger group.
Those who are conscious of the germs found in sharing, this is not a meal for you. Asian logic is sharing brings families closer together. And the thought process is that boiling kills all germs and the use of common chopsticks when scooping, avoids giving everyone a taste of your saliva. There is also the risk that the meat you add in doesn’t get cooked fully, and you and your guests are getting sick out of the same pot. To avoid this ensure everything is cooked through, and that you do not add in more raw to a pot that is almost done. Eat everything cooked in one round before filling the pot up for a second. Also use separate utensils to put the raw food in and take the cooked ones out. After I explain all this and we try our first round, all those who are new to hot pot come up with the same conclusion: why are they paying to cook the food for themselves. I usually explain, they are paying for the tedious prep work required and enjoying the interactive eating journey.
The menu is a sheet of paper with everything you can order and a check box to fill in the quantity desired. There are over 5 broths to choose from at $9.99 each, or you can do a split pot that holds two different broths to cook out of. This is all you can eat, so for $19.95 you can order and try everything without hesitation. You make your ingredient selection from a list divided by meat, seafood, veggies, and tofu. Everything is ordered in quantities and you do your best to suss out how much you and your meal companions can eat in 2 hours. The trick (or the Asian way) is to pace yourself and order the most expensive items first, to ensure you get your money’s worth. We have been here a handful of times and have it down pat. We order all our seafood and our favorite, the quail egg first. These items cost the most and the restaurant purposely gives you everything else first in hopes you will eat you fill and forget the rest.
The meats is their money maker, they are cut razor thin, curled into ringlets, and stacked 5 rolls high for the illusion of lots of meat. The reality is it is probably less meat than a 6 oz steak. They cook instantly so you need to scoop out what you put in, before it dries out. Scoops are little wire nets that capture the meat, but not the liquid. At the end of your meal this becomes one of the most flavorful soups you would have ever tried, that you essentially made yourself.
Be careful to pace yourself and try to predict how much your body can take in. Some hot pot places, including “Fatty Sheep”, mention that you will be charged for all dishes uncompleted. Though I have never cleaned all my plates and have never had to pay a fee. The warning helps to prevent any customer from over ordering.
Would I go back? – Yes. The service maybe slow, and your second round takes twice as long to come, in order to allow you to feel full and eat less. But it is still a good deal $30 for soup broth and all you can eat. Come with a group of friends and you have a fun 2 hours gorging on food and enjoying company around a hot pot.
Would I recommend it? – Yes. For those of us who love the dining experience of cooking at your table, and starving yourselves all day in order to truly eat all you can, hot pot is for you. And there are not many options available other than “Little Sheep”. “Posh Hot Pot”, does not have a sauce bar and with one type of seasoning, you get tired of your meal quick. After two pounds of meat and vegetables that taste the same and are dipped in the same sauce, you get sick of the taste for an extended period of time. “Fatty Cow”, gives you sauce options to choose from, but not a lot of it and more comes at a price.
So for all those reasons if hot pot is what you are craving don’t deny it, eat all you can and burn and boil down the rest that you can’t.
LITTLE SHEEP MONGOLIAN HOT POT