Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Little Lamb Happy Family Restaurant

Cuisine: Chinese, Mongolian
Neighborhood: Flushing
Address: 36-35 Main St., Flushing
Phone: 718-358-6667
Price: $30 for 2

Never having had Mongolian hot pot before, I don't have much to compare this experience to, but I must say the half spicy/half mild lamb hot pot ($19.95) was delicious. Hot pot is basically the Asian version of fondue, where you cook various ingredients in the boiling broth and finish the meal with a bowl of the cooking liquid, made richer and more delicious from cooking the items.

We were the only non-Asian guests at the restaurant, which I always see as a good sign. The hot pot was delivered to our table, the not-spicy side of the pot was filled with a cloudy white broth (soy milk based?) with red beans, ginger, and whole nutmeg, as well as numerous other spices and the spicy side was a deep brown broth with a thin layer of chili oil floating atop, as well as chili peppers and nutmeg. They brought out a plate with a variety of items for cooking in the hot pot, including bean sprouts, cabbage, mushrooms, watercress, carrots, a whole egg, noodles and what we believe was intestine. When they came back to our table to uncover the now boiling hot pot, they brought out a plate with rolls of thinly sliced raw lamb.

Unsure of exactly how to eat the hot pot, we watched other patrons who seemed to be using their chopsticks and the slotted ladles to cook the items and then bring them to their plate or bowl before eating. We followed suit, enjoying both the ritual of the meal, as well as the flavorful food. The hot side left a spicy tingle in my mouth, while the soy milk based broth was both flavorful and cooling in constrast. Toward the end of the meal, Dan cracked the egg into the spicy broth and we each had several bowls of the now enhanced cooking broth which had a predictably more complex flavor than at the beginning.

We also ordered some pork chive dumplings ($3.95 for 12) which were fine, but not worth having again. Interestingly, the menu featured many items which you could add to your hot pot for less than $5 each (with just 2 of us, we had plenty of food with the items that came with the hot pot) -- including more meats, seafood and vegetables. We'll have to return with more friends in order to sample a wider array of offerings, but it was a delicious meal that would be fun with a group.


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