Restaurant: Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot
Location: 140 W Valley Blvd #213, San Gabriel, CA 91776. (626) 307-1901
Date: October 18, 2015
Cuisine: Mongolian Hot Pot
Rating: Middling quality hot pot
Hot Pot is an ever popular style of Northern Chinese / Mongolian food. Basically a pot of boiling broth is used tableside to cook various foods.
Little Sheep is a small chain, the name refers to the prevalence of lamb in Mongolian cooking. Fortunately it’s not, “Little Marmot,” as the squirrel-like rodent is common on the Mongolian steppes and has been known to end up on the cook fire.
The interior is fairly modern.
The menu, somewhere in the middle of our markup process. You have to understand that you basically order plates of stuff, which you add to your hot pot.
Little Sheep does have a sauce bar. It’s not nearly as extensive as the one at Hai di Lao, particularly as the left and right halves are the same, but it’s still more than sufficient to make a great sauce.
These are my sauces. On the left is a richer sesame paste one, on the right a lighter ponzu style.
There are two broth types here, “plain” and “spicy.” This is spicy, which isn’t actually that spicy unless you eat the chilies — but good luck avoiding them all!
2009 Sea Smoke Pinot Noir Ten. VM 89. One of the Sea Smoke flagships, the 2009 Pinot Noir Ten impresses for its depth and sheer power. Layers of flavor flow through to the huge, dramatic finish in a full-bodied, intense Pinot. Once the intensity of the fruit fades, there is not much development in the glass, which results in an overall impression of one dimensionality. The Ten is one of Sea Smoke’s flagships. It is made from all ten Pinot clones planted on the property. While a solid effort, I expected more from this offering, which also happens to be the wine through which I discovered Sea Smoke years ago.
Beef of an indeterminate nature.
Pork belly. Look at all that fat.
Free range chicken. Surprisingly good, for chicken.
2009 Aubert Pinot Noir UV Vineyard. VM 93. The 2009 Pinot Noir UV Vineyard once again shows the richness and heft of the clay-rich soils in this site. This is an especially dense Pinot, even by Aubert’s standards, that needs another year or so in bottle to start shedding some of its baby fat. Despite the wine’s richness, there is more than enough underlying minerality to give the wine a sense of proportion and harmony.
Lamb meat balls.
Beef meat balls.
Pork meat balls.
Luncheon meat. A.k.a. spam. Delicious.
Pork sausages. Little wieners.
From my cellar: 2004 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese. 92 points. #1; COLOR-nice golden; NOSE-burnt BMX tires meets peaches, apricots & pears; spritzy; TASTE-beautiful bluestone; gorgeous dried Apricots; viscous & oily; gorgeous peach juice; very polished; great, great wine; very delicate; nice floral aspects; subtle cactus juice & on the finish; a concoction of Cantaloupe & dandelion dancing on the back-end; very complex; great balance of acidity & fruit; great structure; absolute elegance at it’s finest; DS-92; GV-92.
Scallops. Total fail here, these were not fresh.
Shrimp. These were fine.
Crab legs. Got a bit mushy in the pot.
Fried fish cakes. Pretty tasty, with an interesting chewy texture.
2010 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin Meursault Les Narvaux. Burghound 89-91. An elegant, pure and cool nose of white flower and citrus leads to minerally and well-concentrated middle weight flavors that possess a racy, intense and well-balanced finish. This dry and relatively forward effort should offer 2 to 3 years of upside development if desired.
Miscellaneous vegetable plate.
Miscellaneous mushroom plate.
Soft tofu. I love it, but hard to get out of the pot.
Hot Pot Dumplings. Chewy, tasty. Not sure what if anything was actually inside.
Udon noodles. Again hard to get out of the pot.
Fresh egg noodles. I loved these. Mixed with the sauce they made one of those tangy/spicy Chinese noodle dishes.
Glass noodles. Also great.
Chinese donut. Not actually sweet at all, but with a very nice crunch.
Mongolian bread. Hot from the oven and nice. Who says Chinese don’t make bread?
Mongolian beef pie. This one was delicious. We had a second that was a bit overdone and wasn’t so great.
2010 Copain P2. 89 points. Neither red, white nor rose. Slight tannins from red give body and structure while the pinot gris gives a fragrant juciness that allows it to go with so many modern foods, especially on a warm day with a slight chill.
Lamb dumplings. A little weak.
Pork dumplings. Same. Just kinda soft without too much flavor.
Lamb skewers. With the usual cumin.
At the end, the cooling sauce is starting to congeal.
Overall, Little Sheep is a decent hot pot place. The broth was good, the sauces good, and many of the ingredients like the meat and breads quite good. The seafood was fairly lousy, and the dumplings weak. They also don’t have a ton of broth choices and you have to share the pot with about 4-5 people.
Now I’d place it about Hot Pot Hot Pot (with a 8+ person per pot and no sauce bar), but below Hai di Lao. However both of the first two have a bit more variety of non hot pot ingredients than Hai di Lao.
After, we wandered downstairs in this monster Maxi-mall (which also includes Spicy City) and checked out this bakery.
A couple of us got this layered Crepe Cake. It’s just crepes and custard, chilled. Mild, sweet, milky and delicious — like a sort of crepey tres leches cake.
Another mild cakey thing.
And they also have various teas and slushies. On the left a milk tea, on the right a mango slushie.