Just the other week, I had the great fortune to go on another exciting food adventure with my friends from the Queens Supper club, organized by my friend Anne from City Spoonful blog. Always enjoying our food escapades, this time around brought us back to Flushing for a really unique experience of having Chinese Hot Pot. Never trying this before, I couldn't wait to see how the whole evening would transpire, and I'm happy to report that it far surpassed my expectations. So much so that I keep raving to all my Asian and non-Asian comrades about it.
Located a bit of a ways from the subway and the LIRR, Little Lamb Hot Pot (or Tian San Yun Juan Shao Fei Yun as the Chinese refer to it) is a bit on the remote side. I didn't mind the slight trek though, as there was tons of visual stimulation on the way from the various Chinese markets, malls and just general great people watching.
When I arrived at the restaurant, I noticed it wasn't anything visually beautiful, but it was pretty busy, the tables filled with larger groups, which was a great sign. The space is long and narrow, extending all the way to the back, where we ended up sitting in a semi-private area. It was quite nice for newbies like us to have that bit of privacy and also since we were a larger group and often times a bit noisy.
Each table was equipped with a little range for your hot pot and for larger tables, you can find two or three of these. The whole atmosphere is really conducive to being social and carries off a nice communal vibe.
Since I was a hot pot novice, I got a little tutorial on how to go about it from my friends. The whole concept is pretty simple but quite ingenious. You choose a broth (or two), then your fixins such as meat, seafood and veggies and then you just go for it - cooking everything in the hot broth.
For our side of the table, we decided to split the broth pot in half - one half being mild and the other spicy. Then we went for everything else, including thin slices of lamb, beef, shrimp balls, rice noodles, tofu, tofu skins, mushrooms, carrots, corn, taro, bok choy and even non-traditional proteins such as lamb heart and pig's blood.
The whole thing was an incredible experience, as we all joined in the fun of cooking our proteins and veggies. Experiencing many hilarious moments, as we often forgot what we cooked only to have it float up at a later point in our meal, or the funniest part when we found one of our serving ladles in the broth. "It was the best tasting ladle in all of Queens," we joked.
Something else that was great were all the dipping sauces you can indulge in to enhance all your proteins and veggies. There were about a dozen of them, and Anne created a beautiful concoction of about 3 different sauces, including a few fiery ones that we ended up dipping into for the rest of the evening.
Service and Cost:
We appreciated the efficient service and the fact that our servers had so much patience with us, given our amateur hot pot skills. It was also neat to see that each table was equipped with an iPad you can use during your meal for playing games, perusing the menu, tweeting and so forth.
Costs are inexpensive and of course depend on how many fixins you get. We ended up paying a mere $22/person including tax and tip for the entire meal. Some people got drinks as well.
3 Soupy Mmmms
Little Lamb Hot Pot - 36-35 Main Street, Flushing NY 11354
7 Train to Flushing/Main Street, LIRR to Flushing/Main Street