Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot 小肥羊: Richmond, BC

Ben and I wobbled around Aberdeen Centre after eating at Wo Fung on our Friday afternoon and decided to head back to the hotel to plan for dinner.  Instead, our food coma kicked in right when rested our feet on the bed, only to wake up 2 hours later not knowing what time it is and getting frantically worried for dinner.  Looking back, I don’t know why we were worried.  It’s Richmond, BC!  Every block has at least 2 restaurants, I swear it wouldn’t be too hard to find something to eat.

Since I was going through my list of places to eat I figured I should consider Ben’s opinion on where he wants to eat.  I mean, so far I was basically pulling him around with me to all these places and chances are I’ll be doing the same tomorrow,  so why not see what ideas he has for dinner.  The first thing Ben said when I ask him what he wanted for dinner was, “Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot (小肥羊)!”, without hesitation.  You see, LSMHP is a HUGE restaurant chain in China and only in the last couple of years have landed in North America.  They’re known for their special soup bases and, you guessed it, lamb!   They’re located on the westside of  Lansdowne Centre at 5300 No. 3 Road.  

The above picture is the sign that they have outside the mall, though that’s not the entrance.  The entrance you use is through the mall entrance and when you walk-in, the real entrance to the restaurant looks like this:

We went in around 7:00 pm and this place was pretty busy.  Luckily, we were able to secure a spot as a line-up started to form by the entrance.  I will admit, I was lucky to have Ben with me because I did not understand a word of Mandarin spoken here and the menu they gave us was all in Chinese.  Therefore, I left all the heavy work to Ben :).

Check out the ceramic stove top we got on our table.

Our soup base quickly arrives!  We ordered their Half & Half soup bases, which is their Original Soup Base (the white side) and their Spicy Original Soup Base (the red side) in their yin-yang pot.  These are the two soup bases that are really popular and I would suggest to get the Half & Half if you go.  They also have a mushroom soup base for vegetarians too.

My suggestion to tackle this, is to do all the meat in the spicy section and the vegetables in non-spicy section.  I find the meat tastes much better spicier section and having the vegetables in the savoury non-spicy section balances out the spiciness from the meat.  Of course you have free choice to do whatever you want and the meat does taste good in the non-spicy side too.  I just find that the vegetables looses flavour when they’re cooked in the spicy soup base because it will absorb the spicy oils from the chillies in the soup so much so that the that heat is like a fire in your mouth; whereas the meat can really hold up it’s flavour in the spicy soup base nicely.

The meat on the bottom left is the lamb.  They’re sliced very thinly so it cooks faster in the pot and the rest is well…,  oyster mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, squid, fish fillets, mussels, fatty beef, beef rib eye, tofu sheets, tong-oh (leaf veg.), watercress, corn, and we ordered some side dishes that you can eat individually without cooking it in the pot-  cold marinated cucumbers, stewed pork bones and cold shredded potatoes.  

You MUST order these cucumbers!  These are just a nice aperitif before the hot pot and in between breaks.  I nibbled on these throughout the whole meal and it really does help increase your appetite before you dig in.  They are a little sweet, a little vinegary and still have a good crunch to them and are served cold.  Mmmm, so good.

The next thing we got was the Stewed Pork Bones.

We saw a lot of people ordering these on their tables so Ben felt compelled to order this too.  Ben really liked it, but I kinda thought this was useless to have since were about to attack the other stuff on the table.  It was savoury, tender, and warm.  The meat was literally falling off the bone but again, this would have been a filler for me so I stayed away from it.

Ok, so the potatoes actually came the 2nd round of ordering vegetables and meats… which I’ll get to later.  But these were also ok,  it definitely gives a different way of eating potatoes for sure.  They’re shredded, marinated in a little of vinegar and spices and were served at room temperature.  I think growing up eating potatoes either baked or mashed or roasted made me a little hesitant eating this and liking it.  I’m just not accustomed to eating potatoes in this fashion.

As I was saying the second round came with more vegetables and lamb.  Though, Ben this time decided to order some meat balls. Freshly ground meat balls that are not pre cooked.  

The Pork Ball and Beef Ball were good and they did capture the flavours of the soup base.  The Lamb Dumplings were…. well … lamb-y.  It was totally gamy tasting and I couldn’t take it. It was just way too gamy for me to handle, but Ben enjoyed it.  He liked it and since this was also considered a specialty of the restaurant, a lot of other patrons did too.

It’s good to know that as your soup evaporates, the waiters do refill it with soup base for you (free of charge) and if you decide to order one of their cold drinks,  either Sour Plum or Chrysanthemum, you get free refills on these too.

Overall this was good place to go too! Just enjoying the hot pot alone is wonderful and delicious,  no need to really order any side dishes (other than the cucumbers) unless you go in a big group and everyone can share.  I would highly suggest to pace yourself as our neighbours ordered too much and you can tell they were getting the “I ate too much” sweats coming from their faces.

Anna’s Notes:

  • Great for groups
  • Get the Half & Half Soup Base option on their menu.
  • Order the lamb (of course!), and cook the meat in the spicy side and vegetables in the non-spicy side.
  • Cold cucumber is a must order because it’s a good aperitif.
  • Busy place,  but easy for two people to get in but make sure you make reservations if you’re in a big group.
  • Service is quick and attentive but don’t expect to get an enthusiastic waiter.
  • Tonnes of parking :)
  • Takes cash, credit and debit!

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