Saturday, January 19, 2013

Review: Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot on Bellaire Blvd (Chinatown)

Hot Pot style family soup kind of reminds me a bit of the old Story known as Stone Soup--it's a collective stew made of veggies, meats, stock and other ingredients which seems to have its origins in a collective soup much like those made by the peasants in that old kids' story.  Hot Pot is a Staple of Chinese and other Asian Cuisines, so it's not something that is Uniquely Mongolian.  However, Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot is a limited run chain that is reaching out to Western as Well as Eastern Palates with this unique family meal that ends up being different every time.

Beef and Lamb to add
to the soup
Little Sheep opened their first location on Westheimer and Fountainview a couple of years ago.  They were specifically targeting a more Western Customer base by hitting up the Galleria Area and that location which includes some buffet style service is ALWAYS busy, especially on the weekend.  The second location is a little bit larger than the Westheimer location, it is actually noticeably clean, and the sauce bar is not present in the Westheimer location.

Selection of Seafood, noodles, Tofu and Mushrooms for
Hot Pot Soup
The procedure is very straightforward.   You're given a menu with a selection of meats, seafood, veggie proteins, and veggies, and starches as well.  You marke off on the menu that which you want.  You can get a single boiler or double boiler.  These are stainless steel bowls that sit on the ceramic stove in the middle of your table.  If some of your party are children, or don't like spicy food, while others do, the double boiler (bowl divided into two compartments) is advised.  If everyone at the same table has similar tastes, then no worries with a single.

Double Boiler, Spicy towards the botom
I personally advise you get a bit of everything if you've not done this before.  The staff will fire up the boiler--be careful, that is a stovetop in the middle of your table, and it gets HOT--and as the soup starts simmering, you start adding meats and veggies, cook them to your tastes, and then fish them out with chopsticks or the slotted ladles to nosh on.  One special note if you go spicy:  you will have A LOT of chopped red Thai chile peppers in the bowl.  Unless you have a high tolerace, you're going to have to make sure you don't chew on them.  Like Bay Leaves they're great to season other things, but not so great to eat as is.  Just saying folks!  Only just saying!!!

Our party included a couple of kids, so we made sure to have plain white fish, tofu, and beef/lamb, along with thick udon noodles.  We also got mixed seafood (mussels, squid, etc) and several types of mushrooms, spinach and other veggies.  If you've not done this before, it takes a bit of patience.  The thinly sliced beef/lamb cooks quickly, the seafood takes a bit longer, and the pieces of the huge mushrooms take quite a bit of time.  Although Little Sheep Bellaire Blvd has an WONDERFUL sauce bar where  you can load up on all kinds of sauces from soy, to Srirachi, to prepared mustard, to cilantro, it really isn't needed if you go with the spicy stock, as it is LOADED with chopped red Thai chile peppers, green onion slices, and garlic cloves.  The meat and veggies get infused  with those flavours and its wonderufl for those of us who like the spicy/savoury combination.
Sauce Bar at Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot Sharpstown

What stood out for me a lot was the very astute Western-style service.  The staff was VERY courteous, they made proper callbacks for restocking the cooking bowl, water, tea and so forth.  They made a few adjustments along the way to our party's needs, with a smile.  And they were not aggressive with beverage service.  Overall this was a real treat, and would stand out in comparison to other Hot Pot service.  As a fan of Hot Pot who is used to Asian Style Service (formal, more standoffish, not overly friendly as that is considered rude in Asian culture to act too "buddy-buddy" to those whom you're waiting on, it is a change, but when you have good meat, good veggies, and seasonings, either style service is fine as far as I'm concerned.  For those who've not done hot pot or balk at going to Chinatown restaurants because of Asian style service, you would be happy with this particular setup.

Report Card for Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot Sharpsown: 
     Selection of Meats/Veggies: A
     Stock and Sauces: A+

     Speed: A
     Friendliness: A
     Dining Room: A
     Kitchen: A
     Men's Room: B- (Some water on the sink, needed attending: Toilets OK)
Atmosphere: Modern Asian, with Mongolian style decorations--A

Overall Grade: A-

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Put Sharpstown is located at:
8488 Bellaire Blvd (In Between Mary Bates and Gessner Rd)
Houston, TX 77036
(713) 771-1153

Hours of Operation: Mon-Thu: 11am-2:30pm, 5pm-10:30pm
Fri, Sat: 11am-2:30pm, 5pm-10:30pm
Sun: 11am-2:30pm, 5pm-10:30pm

And remember to Eat Happy, Y'all!!!

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot  on Urbanspoon


Fillies Beamer said...

You did great in reviewing the service and dishes of that restaurant. I hope I can see a review for my favourite restaurant soon.

-Fillies Beamer

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rodneyleonard said...

I think visiting that restaurant is a must try since you have gave it an A- ranking. Thank you for this review.

Rodney Leonard

stanleyfisher24 said...

Dairy products, meat, and animal fats are the primarily ingredients of an Mongolian cuisine. The use of vegetables and spices however is limited only.

Stanley Fisher