Dip into Little Sheep
Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot celebrated its grand opening with a media tasting May 14 at Ward Centre.
I felt relieved to see a restaurant worthy of the large, glossy space. The first Little Sheep restaurant opened in 1999 in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, China. Today there are more than 300 locations, spanning Asia and including five restaurants in Canada and 15 across the United States.
With a track record like that, you assume a certain degree of professionalism, but there were a lot of service issues on this night and on a followup visit, as if ingredients are not prepared to go as at other hot pot or shabu shabu restaurants.
There seemed to be no logic to timing, method or organization involved in food delivery. Some tables received everything immediately. For me, soup was a long time coming. The vegetables and side dishes took a long time to materialize during my first visit, and on a second incognito outing it took an hour-and-a-half to materialize. But the meat came quickly, such that on both visits, we had gobbled up most of the meat before the vegetables, dumplings and noodles, etc., ever arrived.
You fill out a checklist to order, so make sure to doublecheck that list before you leave. When I was there, three items never made it to our table.
Others who visited after my review appeared in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser said service improved, but was optimal if you were a Mandarin speaker and if you yelled angrily — and not at just one person, but two or three servers and a manager.
I hope these issues are settled soon, because I really enjoyed the food, especially the lamb, fresh veggies, roe-filled fishcake, enoki mushrooms and condiments. I also like that it's spacious, so you don't feel crammed or have to worry about navigating around people to get refills on sauces.
Little Sheep is at Ward Centre, 1200 Ala Moana Blvd. (above Genki Sushi). Call (808) 593-0055.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instragram and Rebel Mouse.