Food and Drink
Posted by Nola James
17. Nov, 2011
Little Lamb. Not the only Chinese hotpot restaurant in Melbourne (in fact there are two Little Lambs – the other is in Box Hill). But it’s the most popular, and a good place to start my adventures in hotpot. You’ll have to be gentle, I’ve never done this before.
We’re off to a reasonable start. It’s BYO wine but the selection of other alcoholic beverages is slight. Roughly 30 can sit downstairs, you’ll nearly walk into a table (and a waitress) as you walk in the door – so have your wits about you. It’s crowded and steamy and it smells amazing. Upstairs is room for another 40 or so – the decor clearly unchanged from whichever restaurant was here before and tables too low to tuck your legs under.
$25 will net you the all you can eat ‘buffet’ – a vat of piping hot broth (in combinations of plain, spicy, chili or a half and half combination) and a checklist of assorted raw items to cook in your communal soup. It’s a pretty basic concept. Like a spa for food.
There are rules. Only one sauce per person, only one order of prawn, fish-ball or quail egg per table (in retrospect I wonder if the quail egg would come uncooked in the shell, ready to crack into the soup?) Only one fresh enoki mushroom per table. And one tomato can per table. You’ll have to excuse me, as a hotpot noob I have no idea what one would do with a can of tomatoes in this situation. Supplies of thinly sliced raw meats (and something that looked suspiciously like Spam) are unlimited.
The food arrives fast. Some of it still frozen and all of it raw. So add your spicy chicken gizzard, your frozen fish noodle, your fried milk and sugar cake or your savoury peanuts to your cauldron of soup, fish it out when it’s cooked and eat it….although there are two main challenges. How long does a piece of frozen lotus root take to cook? There is a fine line between frozen and disintegrating. The second – stuff that goes into boiling soup frozen will come out of said soup at boiling temperatures. It will be hot. Trust me. It’s tasty, and it’s fun – but it’s not glamorous.
Your $25 also buys you desert. Which I realised on the way out the door when spying red bean pancakes on a nearby table. Not to worry. I couldn’t have eaten another bite. First hotpot experience? Check. I can’t believe I held out for so long.
Now to tackle the other hundred or so hotpot places in Melbourne.
264 Russell Street Melbourne
Lunch and dinner 7 days
I tried to book. It don’t think the person who answered the phone understood. Just show up.
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