14 February 2009

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot, 50 rue de la Gauchetière Ouest (at Rue Clark), Montréal

Greetings from Montreal, fellow forkers! I am currently writing to you from the lobby of our Holiday Inn Midtown, with a (not-so) fine glass of 2 for 1 bogo red wine next to me. After my ballet class today, I came back to the hotel starving and ready to consume for a feast for dinner, whereas Adrian has been a tad bit sick the past few days, but I somehow managed to get him out of the hotel and into the brisk, nay freezing 20 degree Montreal weather.

He said that he really wanted to take me around the Latin Quartier & International Quartier, which also happened to be near Chinatown. I am always down for a little walk to experience a new city, and an excuse to try a new Chinatown's chessieubao, so after walking close to a kilometer, we were standing on the corner of Rue de la Gauchetière and Clark in the middle of Chinatown. I might exaggerate a little when I say that I heard voices calling my name from the Little Sheep, but I will say truthfully that I was drawn to the sign that said "hot pot" like a moth to the flame. Before I knew it, we had a number in our hand for our table, and a smell that I have never experienced but one that evoked memories & thoughts of a place I've never been but can only hope to go to & experience waifting through my nostrils.

After a long 30 minutes of waiting where it looked like no one was leaving and we might be trapped with this sensuous amazing food tempting us forever, number 7 was called and we were quickly seated. We ordered the spicy pepper hot pot and the hotpot "for affectionate lovers". I wasn't really sure what that meant, but I got from the description and talking to some of the waiters that it's a hotpot that's divided in two, like a ying-yang with one side herbal and the other side something else. And come on, the description "for affectionate lovers" - how can you go wrong? It's Valentine's Day, I'm here with Adrian...I like spicy, so does he, so this seems like a pretty good deal, right?

Our hotpots come, and they place the completely spicy hotpot in front of me, and the ying-yang hot pot in front of Adrian. What I didn't know before I ordered is that the ying-yang hot pot is actually 1/2 herbal, but also 1/2 spicy. Oh noes. I had once watched a Food Network special on hot pot in Shanghai (? I think) where Americans couldn't handle the heat from the hot pot it was so ridiculously spicy. And now, 3/4 of our meal is spicy. Oh noooooooooo.

So basically, for those forkers who don't know, if I may be blasphemous to both the Frenchies and the Chinese, hot pot is basically Chinese fondue, but with hot oil and broth. You drop some thinly sliced meats, veggies, etc in the hot pot as it's boiling, the ingredients all cook within a matter of seconds, you take them out and enjoy. Quite tasty, and great to warm you up on a cold Canadian night.

We are starving, and immediately start dropping some lamb & beef in (prepared shabu shabu style). Soon thereafter, I head up to the "buffet" to grab some accoutrement (taro, potato, pumpkin, parsley, bok choi, cabbage, broccoli, baby corns, egg, mushroom, spam, rice cake, assorted seafoods and a few other miscellaneous items) and some soda. The hot pot is bubbling now, with whole cloves of garlic, chilies, water chestnuts, scallion and chili oil nearly spilling over the sides. I dive in, to be rewarded with incredibly delicious but very spicy veggies & meat. Adrian and I don't say much for the first five minutes of eating, until I break the silence with "Oh my god, my nose is running. This is really spicy." At that point, it was too late - I had taken too long of time between the last piece of food and putting the next piece of food in my mouth and the spice had set in, and my mouth was officially on fire.

Adrian lucked out with the half & half hot pot. The herbal was great to dip veggies in, while the spicy was superb to give the meats flavor. As the busboy was picking up our dishes, I was making a comment about how amazing the dish was when you had those two separate flavors, and to rub some hot oil in the open wound, he wholeheartedly agreed as he took away my completely spicy hot pot. Thanks a lot, as if I didn't look like an a stupid white tourist in a totally Asian restaurant already.

The walk back to the hotel was not fun, as my stomach was absolutely torn apart and I could barely even walk due to this fact & that I was so full - yet we had really not eaten much, comparing to say, an Applebees steak dinner.

Regardless, the hot pot was absolutely amazing, and everything I thought it would be. I can only hope that one day I'll be able to go to China and write a comparison post!

I would highly recommend hot pot to anyone who can find a restaurant that specializes in this awesome dish - it's absolutely amazing, revitalizing, and awakes and heightens your senses to a level you never knew existed (as all spicy food should). Plus, it's relatively healthy as it's just broth with some veggies & meat added and cooked. It was also a very reasonable meal, at about $25 CAD per person. HOT! (Literally and figuratively.)

Even though it's a chain, here's a link to the official site: Little Sheep Hot Pot

4.5 Forks:

1 comment:

geowingo said...

very interesting...where can we find hotpot in NYC? that would be an Easter treat...your blog comments are back to the old you...very enjoyable and just the right hint of irreverent....love, dad

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