Having tried the popular "Xiao Fei Yang" (Small Fat Lamb) Hot Pots in L.A. area, I was excited to find that a bay area restaurant is offering a "Xian Nen Yang" (Fresh Tender Lamb) Hot Pot.
Chef King Restaurant's window says Xian Nen Yang Hot Pots in Chinese characters. They don't seem to be a specialty hot pot restaurant but a regular restaurant which I assume has recently added this as a specialty. They claim that their lamb meats are flown in daily from Mongolia. While I can't tell whether this is true, the lamb hot pot here is definitely very good.
There are two types of base stock - non-spicy medicinal or ma-la spicy, or you can get both in a combo split "Yuan Yang" pot. We chose the medicinal base and picked different ingredients a la cart from the menu picklist - lamb, beef, tong hao (a green veggie), enoki mushrooms, yo tofu, shrimp balls, and Shanghai style thick noodles.
They bring out a portable gas burner and put the hot pot bowl on it. The broth itself looked rich and smelled wonderful. It contained about a dozen ingredients, many from the Chinese medicine cabinets. Examples are hong2 zao3 (red dates), go2 qi3, huai2 shan1, etc. as well as items such as long2 yan3 (dragon eye), hui2 xiang1, scallion, garlic, ginger. The flavor was very good with a touch of curry, yes, curry flavor. It was good without even putting anything else in, and whatever you dip in may be eaten as is without any dipping sauce.
The lamb was sliced thin and was pretty good. I don't eat it often so can't judge on the quality or its origin but I thought it was good. It did not taste too gamey, which I don't like. The other ingredients were also standard, although we probably won't order the shrimp balls or the yo tofu next time, as there were just too much. Each item comes in a medium sized plate so there's lots of food. The Shanghai thick noodles were similar to the Udon noodles but slightly more chewy after being cooked in the broth.
Overall, the meal was great as the broth base was very good and the ingredient portions generous. The service can be better as there was only 1 waitress for the whole place when we were there. The cost is reasonable considering the amount of food - each plate averaging about $3-$5. On the wall there was also a Chinese sign mentioning special lamb meat dumplings. Another sign mentions they charge corkage fees.
2214 S. El Camino Real
San Matel, CA
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