Friday night William and I gave Little Sheep a try. My brother had been to the Union City location before. But stepping in to the San Mateo branch was a whole new experience. It has a full bar, contemporary décor, and more of a buzz to the room. We talked to the manager and he said that this location was unique in the 700+ chain and the first of the “new concept”.
While the setting is lovely, what we were more impressed by was the spicy aromas swirling around the room. The air was saturated by roasted cumin, garlic, chili peppers, and the scent of the grill.
Little Sheep has been discussed at length before,
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/426884 , so I’ll just list our hot pot order.
Half and half soup base, $3.75
Assorted meat combo platter, $12.95
Fish fillet (muddy tasting, don't get this), $5.95
Pea sprouts, $3.95
House special wide noodle (potato starch), $4.95
Both the original and spicy versions of the stock were tasty, and we liked the wide noodles to finish off a lot.
We tried a couple appetizers, typical of street food in Beijing. These arrived after our hot pot came to the table.
Mongolian lamb skewers, $6.95 – Four very spicy skewers with a strip of gristley and highly flavored lamb. Too hot for me to eat comfortably, but I enjoyed the flavors of a couple bites.
Mongolian beef meat pie, $6.95 – This was terrific with many layers of oily, crunchy pastry encasing a thin layer of pulverized and mildly spiced beef. Whereas I feel the need to reach for the sauce pots at Old Mandarin for its version, this was fine unadorned.
The tab adds up fast here, totaling $63 for the two of us, including tax, tip and a diet Coke.
10 Beijing Dishes: What to eat at the 2008 Olympic Games in China by Fuchsia Dunlop
Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot
215 S Ellsworth Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401
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