HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >


New Hot Pot Restaurant Opening in San Diego

  • k

While driving home from dinner, I noticed a new sign in front of the strip mall on Clairemont Boulevard where Thai Cafe(4722 Clairemont Blvd) is located. The sign said Mongolian Hot Pot and Grill. I think this will be an outpost of "Little Sheep".

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
      1. re: honkman

        thanks honkman. I looked at the website and for some reason most of the links don't really work or tell me more about it, but by the looks of it, it looks similar to what Dong Ting Spring in Vegas and Liu Liu Hot Pot in Toronto have--Sichuan hotpot with one side of spicy broth and the other with clear broth. I hope they'll be open when the weather gets colder and drier!

        1. re: daantaat

          This being Chowhound and all - here's a post from the LA board.


          There used to be a location in Hacienda Heights but it closed down. From what I understand it's more Mongolian hot Pot than Yuan Yang Guo.

    1. Saw it on Saturday...interior looks pretty.

      1. wonder if its all you can eat? that'd be cool. I like the ones with a metal bowl in the middle for your hot pot and the grill around it =)

        and is it open yet?

        2 Replies
        1. re: clayfu

          No- they were finishing the interior last Saturday. Front door was open for air circulation. It is right next/same set of buildings as the all you an eat Thai place you just mentiond.

        2. The woman in charge told me yesterday they will open Monday, Sept. 24th. Hours are 10-10. The menu says $3.75/person plus individual ingredients are $4-6.50. See you all there.

          2 Replies
          1. re: 92107

            OH MAN I AM FIRST IN LINE~!~!~! (or first for the dinner rush)

            1. re: clayfu

              Hours on window-saw posted last night: They are closed between lunch and dinner.
              M-TH11:30-3 5:30-9
              F-Sat 11:30-3 5:30-10
              Sun 11:30-3 5:30-9:30

          2. Hit up Little Sheep for dinner. Man, they are so good! I got the yin/yang soup base: half spicy - with tons of halved red chiles, a whole black cardamom, green onion, coriander, cumin, wolfberry, red dates, garlic, and sliced ginger; half yang - with ginseng root, sliced ginger, garlic cloves, and the same cardamom, green onion and lots of cumin. Got sliced lamb shoulder, (much better than that at Zion or Ranch 99), Chrysanthemum greens (tong ho), lamb wontons, fresh thick cut noodles, and a sesame pancake - which is actually a raised bread round sliced into wedges - like what they had at Jamillah Garden or have at Ranch 99, but without green onion. They didn't have the (cuttle)fish dumplings yet, I'd guess b/c they're still gearing up.
            The service was really attentive, bringing lots of much needed water and extra hot broth from an electric teapot to top off the bowl when either side got low from evaporation or slurping. It takes a while to cook it right yourself and you need some chopstick skillz. Very relaxing, nice atmosphere with erhu music in the background. It's a bigger place than I expected, and is very well laid out - they're obviously putting money into their operation. I saw a website where you can buy stock, actually. Don't know how legible these are, but here's some menu pics.

            8 Replies
            1. re: trentyzan

              ooh ooh ooh! we'll be defininitely hitting them up when the weather gets colder!

              1. re: trentyzan

                The cost is probably 1-2$ more than in LA /tear. The meat quality also wasn't as good for the lamb and the beef. Maybe i should have gotten the more expensive option, but at 2$ more than LA per order i don't know if it was worthwhile.

                We had.. 8 orders of meat, Tong Ho, 2 orders of noodles, 2 orders of frozen tofu, 3 orders of meatballs, napa cabbage, pea sprouts, golden mushrooms (every place names it differently.. shrug) the sesame pancake and it came out to a wopping 21$ a person for 7 people! I thought it was rather expensive, and no one was stuffed =(.

                THEY CHARGED FOR SAUCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They charged $1 for each order of sauce that you had! That's outrageous!

                that being said, its the only hot pot in SD so i'll be going again. =P (i believe i may have seen a certain food blogger there)

                1. re: clayfu

                  *everybody* seems to be taking photos of their food these days. Only two other tables used at Sakura last night and both were taking pictures. The nice waitresses who stand at the kitchen door and ..wait.. must just giggle at all the cameras..

                  1. re: Cathy

                    I guess I should have joined the party last night. I was planning on hitting up this place over the weekend, hopefully the word doesn't get out before then cause I don't want to have to wait for a table.

                    1. re: mliew

                      I was at Sakura. Ewveryone else was at Little Sheep. Most restaurants are not crowded on Mondays or Tuesdays. That is the best time to go.

                      Checkthe hours of Little Sheep I posted above. Closed between breakfast and lunch. Unsure how late they will seat you at end of lunch hours...and if there will be a line to get in for dinner, esp on the first weekend.

                    2. re: clayfu

                      Doesn't Dede's serve hot pot too?

                      1. re: candicew

                        Yeah, and Ba Ren as mentioned - let's hope for a seasonal price war!

                  2. I loved this place! The soup base is so tasty!! The bill wasnt cheap, but not overpriced. Definitely worth it due to the quality of the food and environment.

                    1. My husband and I visited Little Sheep on Friday night. Only four days after their opening, the word had gotten out. We had a twenty minute wait for a table for two.

                      The food was fantastic (at least to my non-expert tastes). We did a half and half of the two soup bases and got the sesame pancake, lamb, beef, enoki and oyster mushrooms, tofu, bok choy, and the lamb dumplings. I loved everything except for the bok choy, which was the wrong thing to order. The soup bases had a very complex taste and complemented the other ingredients very well. I think I could make a whole meal out of just the enoki mushrooms and the tofu.

                      We ordered too much food and paid about $60 total, including tip. We are already planning our return trip.

                      1. The weather and schedule finally permitted a trip to Little Sheep for dinner! 8 thumbs up from the 4 of us. We had lamb, beef, cuttlefish balls, fish balls, fresh and fried tofu, chrysanthemum leaves, the mushroom variety plate, beef tripe, bamboo shoots, fish fillet, fun sze (mung bean thread), baby bok choy, winter melon, Mongolian kim chi, pickled garlic and sesame bread. Got the half and half broth (spicy and non-spicy). All the food was fresh and good, perfect for the cooler weather.

                        Mongolian kimchi had a brighter, lighter and slightly sweeter spicy heat than Korean kimchi. Different style and good.

                        Pickled garlic was tasty, if you like pickled things. It comes out as whole heads of garlic and you have to peel off the skins. Not entirely sure if it was worth the extra labor, but worth a whirl nonetheless.

                        Sesame bread was very good! Came out light, piping hot and a perfect foil for the hot, spicy broth. Would have ordered a 2nd round of it except that we had so much food already.

                        Hot pot broth was wonderfully spicy and flavorful. Waitstaff were good about coming around and filling up the broth pot.

                        The only thing I was missing were sauces to dip my food in, which I'm used to from da bien lo. Other than that, we were very satisfied.

                        $120, including tax/tip for all the food. We were all stuffed and too full for Yogurt World. We'll definitely be back!

                        Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot and Grill
                        4718 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
                        858 274 2040

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: daantaat

                          Apparently, you have to ask for the sauces since they charge for them. There's chili oil, fermented tofu and sesame. Perhaps they should either ask patrons or put them on the menu...

                        2. FWIW, this appears to be an imposter, not part of the Chinese Little Sheep chain. We thought we had three branches of the Little Sheep chain in the Los Angeles area--even a top restaurant reviewer said so. But as a SF hound pointed out, none of the L.A. locations were listed on the real company's website (see additional link below). Then mysteriously one of the L.A. branches closed and the other two changed their name. The issue of imposter replicas of famous Chinese restaurant chains in North America seems to be a growing one. Branches of the famous Hui Lai Shan dessert chain showed up in L.A., N.Y. and the Bay Area, with menus identical to the original, and even the distinctive tables and chairs were copied. It was only after a couple of years that the imitators were unmasked. And more recently I was suckered by a fake branch of the Din Tai Fung Shanghai dumpling house in Toronto.


                          7 Replies
                          1. re: Chandavkl

                            Interesting info. Imposter or not, the food there is pretty good. Is it illegal in Asia to impersonate a brand? Considering how lax the laws are on copyright infringement I would guess not (or if it is they don't really enforce it).

                            I wonder why these places would risk trademark infringement? Does it really bring in that much more business? I mean if the food is good, people will go no matter what the name is right?

                            1. re: mliew

                              alot, i mean ALOT of people will go because they believe all the food that originates in Taiwan is of good quality. (I'm taiwanese, and i see this horrid infatuation with Ding Tai Fong in Los Angeles as a prime example).

                              If we opened up a beef noodle place in LA and said it is he same owner as one of the major places in Taiwan the wait would be out the door.

                            2. re: Chandavkl

                              umm... i see the San diego Little Sheep in the company's website just fine...

                              1. re: ooweee

                                They just added it. It wasn't on the website 2 weeks ago. Interesting that they're in San Diego but not the San Gabriel Valley. Kind of like when I went by the Little Sheep in Montreal and assumed it was an imposter because Montreal has a relatively small Chinese population, but it turns out to be the real thing.

                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                  yea i was wondering the same thing why sd first before la. but their answer is that they're dealing with imposters right now through legal terms before locating in LA (i'm assuming thats why one disappeared and others changed names and logos??). good plan, good plan. and at the same time... GOOD FOR US SAN DIEGANS!!!

                                  1. re: ooweee

                                    It says in their time line, though (under "About Us"), that they opened an LA branch in November of 2003. Maybe they just threw together the branch list carelessly.

                                  2. re: Chandavkl

                                    I emailed them about a week ago about the SD omission, so that may be part of why they added it.

                              2. I have been there three times since it opened. The first two lunches were great in terms of food and service. Yesterday, Christmas Day, we arrived around noon, were the only ones waiting, and although it was not croweded (yet), waited over ten minutes to be seated. The service, while friendly, was exceptionally slow. In their defense, by the time we left, there were no empty tables. Still, the experience was not what we had been looking forward to. Still the food was very good, except that my daughter, age 11, noticed that her soup was no longer salty (she was the only one going strictly non-spicy). We told her that she had overloaded her taste buds, but after trying some, she was correct. We didn't know how to ask for more salt.

                                1. I just tried this place for the first time a few days ago. Loved it! I live in LA but had never visited the (purported?) Little Sheep here. We had the lamb wontons, sliced pork, beef, and tons of vegetables. Disagree with the poster who didn't like the bok choy. We actually loved the vegetables most of all... it was just me and a friend, and I think we would've done well with one order of meat... a lot of it went uneaten, unfortunately. We had the yin-yang pot and I loved how the milder vegetables soaked up the flavors. My fave was the potato starch noodles, which didn't look very promising at first, hard and grayish, but ended up succulently chewy and infused with flavor. The slices of perfectly ripe orange we got with our check were the perfect finish.

                                  Service was excellent throughout... everyone we dealt with was friendly and helpful. I arrived half an hour early to meet my friend, and the host made sure to get my name for the list, even though I said we wouldn't be eating till later. Was I grateful, because by the time she arrived there was a 30-minute wait, and we sailed right to our table!

                                  1. Do any of the hot pot places have options for those who are vegetarian or seafood only? I think the broth is usually the problem cause there are plenty of vegies to swish...

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: afinkle

                                      Little Sheep has three broth options -regular, spicy and vegetarian.

                                      1. re: afinkle

                                        I think the vegetarian broth is mushroom based.

                                      2. Okay, first of all, I have to say that I don't remotely understand any of these reviews or how anything good can be said about this place. Either your standards and expectations are incredibly low or you were high from the hot pot fumes.

                                        I made an interesting observation as my family and I walked in to the Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot last week. I only noticed one party of two who happened to be caucasian, the rest were Asian. Just a curious side-note.

                                        Granted, we were seated very quickly, but almost just as quickly it became very apparent that hardly anyone working there spoke English and the few that did spoke it very poorly. Luckily, we managed to order water, which showed up 5-10min later.

                                        It was also fairly difficult to understand the menu, how to order, what to order, how much to order...pictures would have been a good idea here. It was also very difficult to get the attention of our waiter/waitress, whoever he/she was. We didn't know and I doubt they knew either, which only added to the frustration.

                                        So, finally after speaking, or rather, trying to speak to a few Hot Pot employees, we figured out how to order (and what to order) and soon two large pots full of some type of smelly liquid is forced in front of our noses, which quickly begins to boil and froth. Hey, it tasted pretty good, even my "spicy" one, but be very careful and delicate when making an attempt to remove anything from said pot. There are a gazillion little weird things floating around in the "soup," most of which I doubt you'd want to eat.

                                        This was about the time I started to get light-headed from constantly inhaling the hot pot fumes. Unfortunately, it was a bad high and didn't make the experience any better.

                                        We were all getting fairly hungry about now - about 20-30min into the dinner - but soon had a few plates of thinly sliced, uncooked meat sitting in front of us. At this point, I came to the terrible realization that I was going to have to put some effort and work into this if I wanted to eat.

                                        It's a very strange thing to have to cook your meal in a boiling cauldron of mysterious liquid, filled with little objects that appeared to be some type of evil looking potpourri.

                                        Nevertheless, we cooked and we ate, and much to my dismay I remained hungry. Normally, when I order a meal I like to have options. I like to be able to eat, maybe, some chicken or noodles, with the inclusion of a spoonful of rice. At this place, we were simply given meat to eat and had to wait an additional 5-10min for the "vegetable" part of our order to be delivered. I'm hesitant to refer to them as vegetables, because where I'm from I call them "weeds." However, my saving grace was the potatoes, which happened to actually resemble sliced potatoes.

                                        I always became confused when cooking my food. I mean, how long does one need to cook this stuff to boil away any danger of becoming violently ill? Who knows. I certainly didn't, which is probably why I didn't eat very much.

                                        Great food? Excellent food? Hardly. It doesn't not even come close. It was borderline disgusting and such an inconvenience that I sought out an In & Out afterwards to feed my hunger and set things right.

                                        In addition to the overall crappy feeling in my stomach, which slowly oozed it's way to incorporate my entire body, I found that the same nauseating aroma eminating from our hot pots had latched itself onto me, like some sort of alien parasite.

                                        So, in sum, if you'd like to smell like your food, if you'd like to leave hungry and confused, if you'd like to leave feeling dirty and abused, if you'd like to leave with a knot in your stomach the the crule realization that "you will pay for this the next day," then I highly suggest trying the nearest Mongolian Hot Pot. You will not be disappointed.

                                        But, for me, I would rather have gone to the nearby Thai buffet, Thai Cafe.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Shiggy

                                          Heh, heh, that's a pretty amusing post.

                                          Good to know there will be one less customer in my way next time I walk through their doors.

                                          1. re: deckape


                                            I guess you've never heard of shabu shabu, or what I call the European version of "cooking your food at the table," aka fondue. As you accurately noticed, the clientele was predominately Asian. That should have told you that you were in the "real deal," so to speak and part of the experience is dealing with waitstaff who have limited English skills. Time to open your mind to different cultures and food of the world!

                                          2. re: Shiggy

                                            Sounds like you should have done some research about what Hot Pot is and what to expect before going there. If things like Chinese vegetables scare you then you probably should stick with more americanized restaurants.

                                            1. re: Shiggy

                                              is this just a troll post?

                                              A shame they didn't bring everything else out a the same time, because based on the rest of your review I am interested in trying it.

                                            2. I did some research. Unfortunately, it didn't truly sink in until it was too late. I've been to Japanese, Chinese, and Thai restaurants, but have never experienced anything like this before.

                                              No, I'm not a troll. I'm just from Washington. I was in town visiting family and taking a test for the San Diego PD.


                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Shiggy

                                                Thanks for sharing your hilarious observations: "evil looking potpourri...alien parasite"! It's a shame you hadn't experienced anything like it before, and seemingly will avoid doing so in the future.

                                                When you went to In & Out afterwards, did you make any curious observations about the clientele's ethnicity? Just a curious side-note.

                                                1. re: trentyzan

                                                  Ya, they were all white, but if you go down to Arizona they're all Mexican. Curious isn't it?

                                                  I was actually more concerned with the fact that my dad proceeded to tell this 16yr old kid taking our order that he wanted extra sauce, no mustard, ketchup only on the bottom, and cheese between the buns...or whatever.

                                                  My dad loses all logical sense of right and wrong when he enters a restaurant. In this case, when my dad finished with him, the kid couldn't even remember our order number or my chocolate shake. Argh. Incidentally, I also happened to receive extra mustard on my burger.

                                                2. re: Shiggy

                                                  The Chinese use the exact same herbs and spices in certain soups, but I doubt you've had much experience with that. It sounds like you have very Western tastes, so this place probably isn't for you.