LITTLE SHEEP MONGOLIAN HOT POT: Winter Steamy Dipping

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot

Dear Food Diary:
When it comes to hot pot, Flushing just rules over the other boroughs. With so many options, Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot is top on my list. 

I couldn’t take this cold weather any longer, so we ventured into my old hood yesterday for some good old steamy dipping fun. Seriously, the perfect winter fix a train ride away.


A little history on Hot pot (aka Chinese fondue)
Mongolian Hot Pot serves as the forerunner to the modern fondue. Its history stems back hundreds of years to the nomadic Mongols, where tribes would gather together around a fire to cook fresh meats in a communal pot with simmering broth. Overtime, hot pot is refined, but the fundamental ideas of fresh and healthy ingredients, sharing, friendship, family, and the excitement of gathering around a dinner table remains unchanged.
(From Little Sheep website)

Little Sheep has over 300 locations around the States, Canada, China and Japan. The Flushing one has a modern decor, plenty of seating. Great variety of fresh ingredients. Very clean and good service.

Though hot pot is a more communal meal, there’s no shame in what I like to call “steamy dipping” alone. They offer individual pots.

Their set menu is about $15 ($9 for weekday lunches), which gives you a good mix of protein and vegetables. We ordered a la carte which ended up about $40 per person (a little hefty, but good quality). I think the best way is to get the set and add what’s not included. Most ingredients come in half portions, great for someone like me who wants a little bit of everything.

 

Soup Base
Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot - soup base
I was too scared of the House “Mala” Spicy and since StakerBoy isn’t big on fiery dipping either, we got their House Original. A mix of herbs with beef and chicken bone stock.  I spotted jujubes fruit, goji berry, black bean, garlic, scallion, sesame, ginseng, but their signature blend also had herbs I couldn’t identify. The herb flavor is present without being medicinal. Well balanced and perfect for dipping anything.

If you can’t choose between the two, there’s a split Ying Yang pot.

 

Dipping Sauce
Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot - sauce
There’s really no rule when it comes to what you want to dip your cooked ingredients in. My favorite concoction consists of: satay sauce, soy sauce, sesame or peanut paste, fresh chives, Chinese cilantro and garlic. This is my must have when it comes to hot pot.

 

Ingredients
Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot
Because this is basically cooking an ingredient in broth, the choices can be endless. Little Sheep has a huge list.

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot - angus beef and pork belly
Protein wise, the Angus Beef was nice and tender. But the Pork Belly won the pot. A nice mix of lean and fat. Not only did these paper thin slices cook in seconds, but it also made the fat less noticeable. The texture was almost buttery, without that clogging bite of fat of a thicker slice.

I hear their lamb is really good, unfortunately I don’t eat lamb.

The usual suspects – leafy greens, tofu and a variety of mushrooms. A norm in any hot pot.

As for greens, I prefer chrysanthemum greens, it has a distinct bright flavor and sweetness. Snow pea shots, watercress and napa cabbage are also great picks.

Tofu wise, the frozen spongy tofu works well in the hot pot. Absorbing enough liquid for flavor without falling apart.

I love all the mushrooms, but enoki and king oyster mushrooms both have unique textures and the ability to flavor the broth without overpowering. They absorb the broth in their own way, without losing their own characteristics.

Other favorites include lotus roots for that sweet crunch. Taro‘s smooth starchy texture, sweet potato and corn.


Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot - fresh shrimp ball

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot - fresh shrimp ball 2

A good hot pot also consist of having a variety of balls and seafood. Their fresh handmade shrimp balls are fantastic. Naturally sweet and tender. Bouncy to the bite.

 

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot - fish ball filled with sweet fish roe
Fish Ball with Sweet Roe is another favorite of mine. The firm exterior holds a sweet liquidy roe. A burst as you bite into it.

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot - egg dumpling
Egg Dumplings are special because I use to make them with my ChubbyMama every Chinese New Year. These aren’t as good, but they do the job. Filled with pork and vermicelli.

I wish Manhattan had a decent Chinese Hot Pot restaurant or anything comparable to Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot. Hou Yi Hot Pot in Chinatown is one of our only options, but it doesn’t even come close.

P.S. Chubby’s Rating: chubby rating 4

littlesheephotpot.com
136-59 37th Ave
Flushing, NY 11354

718.762.8881

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot on Urbanspoon