In general, I am a skeptic of boiled food. I have tried hot pot at many different places, both at restaurants and in the homes of friends and family, but never quite found it to my liking. So, I was in for an unexpected treat when I visited 小肥羊 Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot in San Mateo, CA for dinner recently. I really wished I had blogged about this sooner while I still had a copy of the menu. So, much of my recollection is based on my fading memory.
First off, you have a selection of soup bases to choose from. We opted for the non-spicy soup which runs for (I think) $3.95 a person. Then, you can pick from a list of various meats, seafoods, vegetables, tofus or noodles. For meats, we ordered the premium lamb shoulder slices and the supreme fatty beef slices. Both were absolutely delicious. Is it even possible for thinly sliced meat to absorb so much flavor from a quick swirl in the broth? I wasn’t curious enough to eat a slice of raw meat to see if it’s been pre-seasoned for obvious reasons. No satay sauce. No peanut sauce. I ate the meat as it came out of the broth and I was sold. We skipped the seafood. Is it even authentic to pass seafood as Mongolian cuisine? It is a land-locked country after all. For vegetables, we had tong ho and 大豆苗 pea sprouts. I’m not a fan of tong ho. Pea sprouts are more my type of vegetable. We also ordered enoki mushroom, which didn’t add or detract from the hot pot. For pasta, we had both the 粉絲 vermicelli and the wide rice noodles. I liked the wide noodles better. For desserts, we had the red bean paste yam cake. I wasn’t too fond of that because the yam cake had too strong a pumpkin taste to it.
However, the star of the night was the broth and the broth-infused lamb and beef. Outrageously delicious and a bit pricey, but entirely worth the experience.