Today is the day! There’s a new Hot Pot kid in town, and her name is Little Sheep.
Hailing from Mongolia in Northern China comes this very welcome addition to the second floor of Honolulu’s Ward Centre. The mega restaurant chain has over 300 locations across China, Japan, the US mainland and Canada, and has finally arrived here in Honolulu. This Little Sheep location can easily be found in the space previously occupied by E&O Trading company. This spacious restaurant has very ample seating and table space as well as a fully stocked bar, outdoor lanai seating for those cool evenings when air conditioning just seems a little overkill, and even a semi-private dining room for large parties.
The decor is a little fancier and more modern than what we’re used to in terms of hot pot restaurants here in Honolulu. To me it seemed like a hybrid of a high-end yakiniku crossed with an upscale ramen joint. Modern furniture, stainless steel counter tops, and wood paneling on the walls combine for an interesting effect. It looks more like something you would find in LA more than Honolulu.
As you enter the restaurant you will walk past the front counter where the hosts and hostesses warmly greet you, and just behind them is a well stocked bar. There are several cocktail options, bottled beers, and beers on tap. The perfect cold drink to go with a hot pot.
We also got to try their lilikoi iced tea. The tea on its own was flavorful and refreshing, the there was also a bonus add-on of flavor filled balls at the bottom of the cup. Think ikura, but filled with fruit juice instead of the sea.
As with all other hot pot style eateries you start off with a boiling pot of broth. The broth here at Little Sheep comes in a simple two versions. A 36 spice House Original broth which was clean and herby, and a House Spicy broth, which is the same base as the original with additional spicy kick. Each of these are also available in vegetarian, and low sodium versions for those who prefer a walk on the healthier side. You can also get the Yin Yang pot which enables you to try both broths at once.
The extensive menu also offers up about 80 different options of meats, seafood, veggies, mushrooms, noodles, and other little goodies to add to your bubbling broth. There are also a couple dozen appetizers to choose from. I highly recommend the Mongolian Kimchi, and the Pickled Garlic. We had both, and absolutely loved them.
As with the other hot pot places, especially the Chinese and Taiwanese style establishments, the sauces that you dip your cooked meat and veggies in plays a very important role. The same goes for Little Sheep. The sauce bar is quite extensive with a plethora of sauces to choose from.
We were treated to a variety of meats, veggies and other delectables.
If you want rice along with your hot pot, you’ll have to order a side of it, but honestly, though, the Sesame Pancake was absolutely outstanding. A loaf of sesame crusted bread which was dense yet soft on the inside, and crispy on the outside. To me, the texture was distantly related to an andagi, but not quite as dense, like a hybrid of andagi and malasada, but tasting very different. I highly recommend dipping some of the bread in your soup. You won’t be disappointed!
Even though we were completely stuffed even before the end of our meal, there was still dessert to try. There are two items on the dessert menu. One is a house made ice cream which comes in three flavor options. Vanilla, Black Sesame, Mango, and Plum. The flavors we got to try are below, and I would say that Plum was my favorite.
The other dessert is a Yam Mochi with Red Bean Filling. This dish was reminiscent of something like a fried taro mochi filled with azuki beans. Very delicious.
The service on our visit was outstanding. The restaurant was well staffed, and the servers were very friendly, helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable. Most of the wait staff were recruited from local college and university campuses in town, and were put through a rigorous two week training program before opening day.
At an estimated price-point of about $25 per person, Little Sheep is definitely a worth option for the ever evolving Kaka‘ako-Ward area. With Little Sheep opening its doors, it helps to expand the variety of restaurants in the Ward Centers, and another welcome addition to the Honolulu hot pot scene.
I sincerely look forward to paying them another visit, and very soon.
Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot – Ward Centre
1200 Ala Moana Blvd, Building 4, Second Floor, Bay 16
11:30 am – 3:00 pm Monday – Thursday (Lunch)
5:30 pm – 10:30 pm Monday – Thursday (Dinner)
11:30 am – midnight Friday – Saturday