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Little Q Hot Pot, Arlington

Went for the first time last night and thought this place blows away other Boston-area Shabu Shabu joints. Broths were full of multiple whole spices, garlic chunks, ginger, scallions -- more like full-fledged soups than mere dipping broths. Generous portions of good standard meats and seafoods, plus more unusual choices like big chunks of beef tendon (melts in your mouth after a few minutes in the broth). Also great value at the price point compared to other Shabu joints. Lots of empty tables on a Saturday evening; need to generate some enthusiasm to keep this place going.

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  1. I'm soo excited to hear this. We definitely miss them after they were pushed out of Quincy.

    I can't wait to get my friends over to this new Arlington location and give it a try.

    1. Any menus anywhere? My wife isn't crazy about the hot pot and I would love to try it but it would only make sense if there were other items on the menu (noodles, sushi, teriyaki, etc.).

      1 Reply
      1. re: marcreichman

        There are plenty of other items (Szechuan Chinese) on the menu besides the delicious hot pot! Had a great and healthy meal with the family tonight. What a great addition to E. Arlington! Can't wait to go back!

      2. Taste of Taiwan was another Quincy restaurant from that redeveloped block that was displaced, and rumored to be moving to the suburbs. Has anyone heard if landed anywhere?

        3 Replies
        1. re: Karl S

          I think it is the folks that started Blue Asia in Allston.

          Blue Asia Cafe
          113 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA 02134

          1. re: Karl S

            yes, blue asia cafe in allston is owned by the same people as the late taste of taiwan. the menu is different but they occasionally include some of their more popular dishes as specials

          2. Ooh! Thanks so much for sharing! I also loved the Quincy one and was so sad when it got displaced. I hope they still have the Mala broth? That was my favorite! Can't wait to check it out.

            3 Replies
            1. re: jgleeche

              Yes, they definitely have the Mala (i.e. "numbing and hot") broth, and it is just as excellent as it was in Quincy. If you like cilantro, order a plate of it there and dump it into the Mala broth and it will quickly infuse the broth with added "bite" as well.

              1. re: lipoff

                brilliant idea! i'm definitely doing that when i go.

                1. re: lipoff

                  My husband LOVES cilantro, and I never thought of putting it in the Mala broth! Yum! We'll definitely try that when we go. Thanks!

              2. samovar, can you plse clarify something for me?Maybe i misread something but i'm confused. Shabu shabu is japanese and mongolian hot pot is chinese. Little Q is what? thank you.

                3 Replies
                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  I guess Little Q is "officially" Mongolian Hot Pot, although in practice it has many common features of Shabu Shabu places, and that's the shorthand my kids use.

                  397 Hancock St, Quincy, MA

                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    Most of the shabu places here are distinctly Chinese style, not necessarily Japanese.

                    1. re: kobuta

                      exactly. and a kind of fusion of the various chinese styles at that--i.e. not exactly chong qing hot pot, not exactly beijing shuang-yang-rou, & etc.

                  2. Here's the previous thread of early reviews:


                    I mentioned in the other thread that I was looking forward to hitting up their non-hot-pot menu too. Well, we did, and it was great. I really liked their ma po; the sichuan eggplant -- though sweeter than I usually like it -- was also delicious. The staff is so friendly, and this is such a great addition to the neighborhood.

                    1. How big is the new place?
                      The old place in quincy was fairly large...

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: Spike

                        It has about 12 tables. Thanks to all your who posted before - went there last night based on your recommendations -

                        The broths are so so much more interesting than the shabu joints. The whole spices are incredibly visually appealing, and then they start to break down and open up, spilling their seeds and ramping up the flavor. And let me add that we are talking about whole spices, huge slices of ginger, quail-egg-sized pods that look like nutmegs, tons of small red peppers, entire garlic cloves, twigs of indeterminate origin, stalk of onion, etc. These things cook and make a real stock.

                        We got the herbal and the mala - I have to say that I did not find the mala too spicy at all, but then a dip in the herbal was fiery after the mala...weird interplay. My DC agreed, but also found the mala fiery and preferred the herbal. She also noted that the quality of the seafood was much better than the one we recently tried at a shabu place in Chinatown.

                        Also note that the base broth is beef - they have vegetarian stock too I think. Enjoyed a couple of orders of the shrimp dumplings, which looked like a tray of fat cigarettes. We spent $40 but could have easily stuck with veggies for half that amount, so would really recommend this for the vegans out there. That mala broth (or the veggie mala) is outstanding. BTW, when we left, every table was filled, so hopefully word is getting out.

                        1. re: Bob Dobalina

                          I was curious about the herbal broth -- what does it consist of?

                          1. re: litchick

                            Hard to say exactly...the items I could identify - longitudinal slices of ginger root, whole garlic cloves, green onion, maybe some lemongrass, some other seed pods that, once boiled open, revealed seeds that had a fennel/anise-y taste that was quite nice in the bottom of the soup bowl. Had trouble picking up on the other things, after dousing my mouth with the mala first.

                            1. re: Bob Dobalina

                              Went back last night - it's in the regular rotation now. It is more than eating - the sweating, the heat - I am turning into a "pot" head. :)

                              Made further inquiry into the ingredients in the herbal broth - our server did not know any of the English names, and only a few of the Chinese names...

                              But paid better attention this time - There are lots of whole cardamom pods, lots of koji berries, a lychee, a slice of some kind of bark that softens and is edible in theory, but I would not try it necessarily, a stick of bark that did not soften, and the previously mentioned green onion, garlic cloves and ginger slices. There was another fruit-berry thing in there I could not identify, and a couple of other poddy things. Hope that helps.

                              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                thanks! i'll give it a try next time we're there.

                                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                  the lychee might actually be dried longan which is a common ingredient in chinese herbal soups.

                                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                      Whole cumin too I think. We also had the mala and the herbal; both were excellent and a major step up relative to some of the shabu joints.

                        2. Can vegetarian or those who keep kosher find enough things to eat there?

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: galka

                            I think so, at least as to vegetarian - there is a vegetarian mala broth, a miso broth, and I would suspect that the herbal and others could be done with a vegetarian stock, rather than the default beef. They have many types of veggies available, mushrooms which really soak up the broth, four types of noodles and some tofu selections.

                            Not sure of kosher rules, so cannot comment.

                            1. re: Bob Dobalina

                              One always has to be cautious assuming the Western understanding of vegetarian translates to east Asian restaurants: for example, while a dish might not have meat in it, the broths are often made with pork or fish sauces or shrimp paste, et cet., and it would not occur to many restaurants to alert patrons.

                              1. re: Karl S

                                True, but given how eager the Little Q staff have been to make sure they're doing all they can for the patrons, I bet they'd be very receptive to the detailed questions about which options are truly veg.

                                1. re: Karl S

                                  That shouldn't be a problem - most vegetarians I talk to seem to think it's okay to eat fish and whatnot, so they shouldn't care ;)

                                  1. re: jgg13

                                    I understand. It's just that Westerners largely do *not* understand the thinking behind east Asian cuisines, which is all about balance of things in ways that are alien to us (a vegetarian or vegan meal in the Western sense translates only to certain sub-cultures, and not usually those found in restaurants here unless there is a clear and obvious dedication to that end).

                                    1. re: Karl S

                                      Good points all around. I personally would forget to think of fish sauce as being non-vegetarian.

                                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                        And don't forget about Worcestershire sauce, the English version of fish sauce and garum (the ancient Roman fish sauce).

                                        The pervasive thing in Chinese food is the use of pork for making broth (pork broth/ginger/scallions is their culinary equivalent of the swiss army knife, like our chicken broth with mirepoix or Cajun trinity). You may see a lovely broth full of vegetables, but woe to the strict veggies who assume too much.

                                      2. re: Karl S

                                        Sorry, I was just being facetious (for the record, I don't really care if someone is a pescatarian, ovo-lacto, etc - I just find it silly when ppl call themselves "vegetarian" and then blatantly eat meat). I completely understand what you mean - that's been an issue w/ some of my friends in chinatown and the like.

                                        The funniest story I've seen along those lines - a friend was getting married in NZ. Her, her husband, and a big chunk of the attendees were all veg. She calls up the reception place to plan the menu, makes a big deal about how they want it to be vegetarian. What was the main course? Roast lamb. Well, you see, it's not beef, right? Why would she be so upset? :)

                                        1. re: jgg13

                                          Aunt Voula: "He no eat meat?!?!"..."That's OK. We make lamb!"

                                          courtesy of My Big Fat Greek Wedding...

                                          1. re: Karl S

                                            Hah, I always forget that bit, and every time II tell this anecdote someone reminds me of it. You'd think that eventually I'd remember. :)

                                            1. re: jgg13

                                              Kiwis, like Greeks, may just think of lamb as quadruped species of grass.

                                2. re: galka

                                  Depends what you mean by "kosher," If you mean whether you can eat food there that's neither pork nor shellfish and not have dairy, then yes, that is very easy to do. Just order the beef, lamb, chicken, fish, tofu or vegetables. In Chinese restaurants you essentially never have to worry about dairy. On the other hand, it's not as if they have a heksher and the meat has not been slaughtered in accordance with kosher practices. A conservative Jew who says that he keeps "kosher" would be very happy here; an orthodox Jew would likely only go to Taam China.

                                  Taam China Restaurant
                                  423 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

                                  1. re: lipoff

                                    very helpful, thank you all, you guys are the best! Our friends are not that strict.

                                    1. re: galka

                                      I'm a vegetarian. When I went there I was the only customer, and talked with the waitress about the vegetarian broth, and what to mix in. She assured me that the broth, I believe it was called 'herbal', was vegetarian. It was a delightful experience, enjoy.

                                3. I haven't been back to Little Q Hot Pot in Arlington for lunch in quite a while and on this almost snowing day I thought it was an appropriate choice. They also raised the lunch prices by $2 so the $7.95 lunch is now $9.95 and that pushes it up in the expensive range for lunch.
                                  I had the Mala broth and while it's spicy enough it sadly lacks half of its name since it's missing the Sechuan Peppercorns that makes up the numbing part of the name. It's still very good especially at the end of the meal when it has reduced down by half. If you ask, you can get the leftover broth to go. I had the Supreme Pork with Shandong noodles and the normal veggie basket. All was good and so was the service. Such a nice place, I hope they are doing well.