I absolutely love hotpot, and since Little Lamb opened at JBR I have been a regular, so I consider myself a bit of a Little Lamb hot pot veteran. I therefore thought I would share this mini guide to hotpot and Little Lamb, so those of you, who have not yet tried it, have a starting point, when going there for the first time.
Little Lamb does not take reservations, so on weekends you might have to queue up to get a table. If you want to avoid waiting time, try to go early on weekdays (before 6pm). Though even when there is a line, it tends to move quickly, and I do not recall that I have ever waited more than 20 minutes.
You can choose among different kinds of broth to cook the ingredients in. If in doubt, I recommend the 50-50 hot pot, with one half of spicy soup and one half of mild soup. The spicy soup is very spicy, but also the most popular and the more expensive of the two kinds.
The staff hands you a tablet, so you can browse the menu and place your order. If you are not sure about what to order, I suggest that you get one of the set menus. The set menus include soup, vegetables and different kinds of meat and seafood. The cheapest one is around 100AED (depending on the type of soup you choose) and there is plenty of food for 2 people.
The scallion pancake tastes like Korean pajeon (a kind of thick savory pancake with spring onions). Good as a starter or a snack while you are cooking the other ingredients. Nice dipped in a mix of sesame oil and soy sauce from the sauce buffet.
Fried Spring Rolls
Crispy and delicious and also good with soy sauce or the sweet-and-sour sauce from the sauce buffet. So tasty I suspect they might be homemade.
Mongolian thick noodles
Broad noodles with a slightly chewy texture. They need a little more cooking time than the regular noodles and taste a bit like Japanese udon. Really delicious dipped in sesame sauce.
If you order a large cola, you get a giant 2-liter bottle, but because the food is so spicy and salty, it is usually not a problem to empty the bottle during the meal. If you want to try something else than cola, I can recommend a can of the sweet Chinese herbal tea, which I always forget the name of (a red can with yellow letters).
Of the cheaper meat cuts, the lamb meat is the best and juiciest.
All the other things
I also like the fresh bean curd, which is the skin that forms on top of heated soy milk. It has a fun, slightly spongy texture, and does not taste of much, but it is fun to eat. The fish balls and meatballs are rather boring, and I am pretty sure they are of the ready-made kind that originates from a bag in the freezer. I eat them because they are included in the set menu, but they are not something I would order separately. The fried rice is also nice, but very filling, so unless you are there with a bunch of friends, skip that one and focus on the hot pot items.
Speaking of sauce
After cooking your hot pot ingredients, you dip the food in sauce and eat it, and it is the sauces at Little Lamb that really add the silver lining. This is what makes hot pot so delicious.
The sauce buffet is at the back of the restaurant, so after placing your order, this is where you go to mix your own sauce according to your preferences. If you are not familiar with the sauces and condiments, you can try this mixture that I always make:
Sesame sauce (should fill up most of the small sauce bowl)
Oyster sauce (approx. 1 tsp)
Black bean sauce (1/2 tsp)
Chili oil (1/4 tsp), be careful, it is very spicy
Garlic oil (½ tsp)
Sprinkle with coriander on top and mix everything together. Tastes divine!
Little Lamb (Xiao Wei Yang) is featured in my guide to Chinese restaurants in Dubai >>