If there were an image for "Hotpot Slut" my face'd turn up. I'd pick hotpot for a meal any time any day, if there weren't anything else in particular I was craving. So strutting along in Somerset we were thinking of grabbing some grilled skewers for lunch, when I saw a huge sign for Little Sheep Hot Pot just screaming at me. Of course, hotpot for lunch it was. A big poster advertising an all-day $15.80++ set meal also helped (I'm exceedingly practical).
It was definitely among the few times I visited a restaurant without any research — ainch gonna potentially waste money — so all I knew when stepping in, was that Little Sheep's apparently a really popular in China. That should mean it's pretty alright innit?
To cut this whole scathing review short: 2 of us paid $93.70 for a meal that I wouldn't fork out $50 for.
What you get for your $15.80++ all-day set, for one by the way
Looking at the fine print we realised that ok the set meal does not include any soup base, beverage, or condiments. Which really isn't a good deal, if you think about it. You get some vegetables, a couple of meatballs (literally 2), and 6 slices of meat, your choice of beef, pork, or lamb. $5 gets you access to the condiments bar, which does not include any drink — not even tap water, I kid you not. For 2 we were advised to get a small soup base, and that turned out...
Small mixed pot of Signature White Soup and Tomato Soup (S$12++)
...to be the size of a personal pot. Not very convenient for sharing cause each diner gets their own personal little electric stove right, so one of us really had to stretch. Not very economical either, where else would I pay $12++ for a personal pot? We opted for the Signature White Soup and Tomato Soup bases, which are my go-to flavours ie. if you fuck it up I ain't visiting again.
I can't in good faith said I particularly enjoyed either of them. The white soup tasted like a simple stock with an overwhelming flavour of ginger which, definitely could help cut through the richness of the meats, but wasn't the most shiok to drink on its own. The tomato soup was artificial in a way even I find hard to describe. It tasted like minestrone right out of a can and was not, in any way, pleasant. With more of the master stock added it got better, but from the get-go it's a huge fail in my books.
We're already at $32.80++ per head now, with barely enough meat or veggies to be satisfactory. Of the ingredients included in the set, I have to say their meatballs were really tasty. There was 1 fishball and meatball, both done like 福州鱼圆 where you get a little ball of mince and soup stuffed inside the balls.
But of course with the middling amount of ingredients we had to order more. Scrolling through the menu shows meats priced at $7/8; sounds reasonable till we clicked on them and oh mighty lord that's for a half portion.
Full portion of pork shoulder (S$14.80++)
A full portion gets us 8 extremely thin slices. Worth the money? I think not. Yes the meat was fresh and had no gamey taste, but most of the hotpot places out there boast meats of this quality. Hell even at 食尚捞 I can get a mountain of sliced pork at $8.
Writing this now I understand Little Sheep's actually famous for their mutton, so in hindsight that might have been a lot more impressive. I'm not gonna make excuses for them though: mutton or not, I was utterly disappointed with the price-to-portion ratio of their meats.
I don't even want to get started on the vegetables.
If I were to pay $50 a head for hotpot, I'd rather head to Hai Di Lao or Beauty In A Pot, where I'd get bigger portions and a lot better service. If I wanted something cheap and good, I'd pick Shi Shang Lao or Shi Li Fang. There was literally nothing about Little Sheep that has an advantage over any other hotpot places I enjoy, so really I have no reason to ever return.
Little Sheep Hot Pot
277 Orchard Road
Orchard Gateway #B1-13
Open daily from 11AM-4AM