Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Jul 2, 2010 01:25 AM

Little Q Hotpot Truly Superb

Had heard such raves about this place when it was in Quincy, but somehow never got down there. Now that it is in Arlington it is DEFINITELY part of the rotation.

Food wise, WOW!!! Hands down best food of this style I have ever eaten. So much better then the other Shabu Shabu joints in Boston.

We had a combo with the Sirloin and veggies. Also ordered corn, mushroom plate, Udon, and Shandong noodles. The Shandong noodles were way better then the ordinary Udon.

We also ordered some tongue.

Combo give you two broths, we went Mala and herbal.

Both broths were culinary things of beauty. Truly awesome. The herbal I drank a lot of as soup as we worked our way through the meal. Complex, laden with very fresh cumin seed, and another 20 notes of barks, berries, etc.

Think one was Chinese black cardomom:

And Dried Ju Ju Be fruits:

There was also a very pungent cardomom like pod that was white and a bit plumper and much zingier then regular cardomom.

I kept gnawing on various barks and berries as they cooked and they were all really quite amazing.

The meats were downright gorgeous, shimmering slivers of jewel-like pristine meat. One of the best preps for tongue I've ever eaten. A small tip, I always like to eat the meat rare, or medium rare, it's fine if you let it cook through, but so much beefier rare.

The Ma La broth was eyewateringly strong, and intensified A LOT as we ate, the flavors steeped, and the broth reduced.

Both my DC and myself had "holey cow I just shot chili, cumin, ma la (Sichuan Pepper corn) up into my brainstem, I may go blind but in the very best way" moments. As we finished the Ma La broth had turned into an oily firey cauldron of beefy brothy wonder.

I had them package it up and am dreaming of throwing some chinese noodles I have in the freezer on in for a little repeat performance.

Mushroom plate had fresh oyster, porcini, enokitake, matsutake, and reconstituted dried cloud ear. All wonderful.

Corn cooked in the broth was great.

Also had a selection of wonderful if slightly pricey cold sake. They seem to be waiting for a restocking order on this front.

Our hostess and the wait staff were patient and wonderful.

Whew, short version, for one of my best Boston meals of 2010. Run don't walk, this is what chowhounding is all about.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I was the lucky DC. Definitely one of my best meals for 2010 so far ... and I'd go back in a heartbeat, like tonight.

    The tongue was superb -- soft and melty after a quick swish swish in the spicy broth. Sirloin good too, but I'd also like to try the various balls you can get (chicken balls, pork balls, lamb balls) as well.

    As Stripey said, the broth intensified after a while -- to the point that the last batch of Shandong noodles (and these were just simply the BEST) were close to painful to eat. In a good way.

    The staff were superb -- explaining what to do, when to do it, etc, and clearly enjoying our enthusiasm. It was like a mutual admiration society -- no YOU are the best! No YOU! But I really loved it at Little Q and can't wait to head back.

    Below is a fuzzy picture of our broth selections.

    8 Replies
    1. re: yumyum

      They also have a little logo that makes you want to steal all the dishes. But that's not about food, now is it?

      1. re: yumyum

        Hmm, wonder if I could get Mrs. MC to wear shrimp as barrettes?

        1. re: yumyum

          Dropped in late for a bowl of soup,
          prev. experience having been Ltd. to a few Shabu places.
          The hot pot seems a Sichuan orientation, agree its
          slightly better than others, staff willing to please, extensive choices,
          I had a very simple (BLACK BONE CHICKEN) broth (nice) with some shrimp balls. (not enough flavor to compete with the broth) they served a comp. cold Kimchee like dish, only milder than the Korean version, they insisted that it belonged only in the soup for flavor,..I liked it much better as a cold crunchy veg. -similar & more mild than Scz Gourmet's (Billerica's) cold chili-cabbage side.
          and was impressed with the complexity of the broth, the ginseng like root, ginger: (long intense strips of fresh shaved root this evening), whole cardamon pods chilies etc.indeed became more pronounced as the bowl dwindled,
          getting spicier and finally hotter as well thanks to a whole chili
          Staff seemed very pleased that we were happy with the first visit.
          unpretentious place trying to do one thing especially well.
          with little pretense. I liked it a lot.
          its a fun meal to eat, OR deconstruct, a definite keeper...

          Would be a great first date place as you can
          1. Find a topic of conversation starter in the bowl in front of you,
          figuring out what the hell your eating, and:

          2. Dump her (or him) if their not adventurous enough to get into the swim of things.

          The Villain

          397 Hancock St, Quincy, MA

        2. re: yumyum

          How could we have forgotten the Balls? There was literally a whole section of the menu called BALLS including ground fish, pork, beef, etc. Next time.

          1. re: yumyum

            I am seriously jealous. I live close to Quincy and Little Q was the go-to place for my family. There is a very good Shabu restaurant in North Quincy, so we are not bereft by any means, but I am glad that our loss is your gain! We'll just have to plan a few trips to Arlington.

            397 Hancock St, Quincy, MA

            1. re: chowfamily

              Super easy parking, not some crazy hinterland to get to. Please come up North and keep them busy.

            2. re: yumyum

              Thanks for the research on the elements of the herbal broth.
              This place rocks.

              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                All three of those I mention above were in both broths. Think the herbal one has other indeciperable items where the MaLa definitely has chili and Sichuan peppercorns that are not in the herbal.

            3. As a big fan of Little Q when it was in Quincy, I'm sorry that they couldn't seem to find a space to re-open near by.

              If you go frequently, make sure to try some items from the "Foundation Items" section of the menu. Specifically, the lamb dumplings and the scallion pancakes are outstanding.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mwk

                Thanks for the tip. Lamb dumlings fo sho.

              2. I love beef tongue in hot pot! It's one of the few cuts that are a must have when we have hot pot out or at home. The other item I used to like at the Quincy Little Q was a type of white fish - it was easy to cook, retained its sweet flavor, and was light, especially if you go for a heavier broth. While udon or shandong noodles are more standard,we also love getting nian go (rice cakes) . I enjoy the chewy texture, and find that it absorbs the taste of the soup well. I miss Little Q and hope we can find time to hit Arlington.

                1. I was there the first night with my wife, and they seemed pleasantly surprised with the customer traffic. I believe they are doing well in East Arlington, so I hope they have a long future in front of them.

                  I've been back twice, once more with the hot pot - we always get the duo, but last time we basically just worked out of the spicy broth side.. Packing up the broth is a great idea - I find myself slurping the spicy broth at the end of the meal. The pan-friend pork dumplings are quite good as well....

                  One criticism - I find the combo's sort of a waste... it costs a lot more and you just get a plate of veggies.. I find its better to just order ala carte for items.. and god, more power to them, but that ala carte menu is LONG....

                  But don't get me wrong.. I am going back there... a LOT..

                  1. Finally made it over with my vegetarian DC - who was very happy with miso broth and such a wide selection of veggies - various fresh mushrooms, lotus root, broccoli, tofu, etc... Yum. They had dropped off a menu for takeout delivery at our apartment, though I can't imagine hot pot can be delivered! Unfortunately the Szechuan menu did not have much for vegetarian options.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: cindywho

                      You *could* heat the broth on the stove....maybe not today...

                      1. re: cindywho

                        The take out menus (at least the ones I have) don't have the hot pot section on them -- just the plated items. They're so nice there, though, I bet they'd let you buy a container of broth to take home if you wanted.

                        For the record, their take out has been pretty good (with the exception of the scallion pancake, which -- not surprisingly -- suffered in the steamy takeout container environment.)

                        1. re: litchick

                          Thinking a bit more, would not want them to get in trouble with the public health police by providing raw food for take-out - that might be a no-no...but I bet you could get them to see you just the broth and you could cook your own raw food at home.

                          1. re: Bob Dobalina

                            I briefly considered how they might do it - but decided I'd be perfectly happy to go out for hot pot. The menu they left on our doorstep did have the hot pot section (which was how I convinced my DC to go - evidence of many veggies)

                            1. re: cindywho

                              FWIW, I've seen hot pot stuff on foodler for at least one local place (Zoe, I think). I've always wondered how they did it, but figured it'd be awful so never bothered to find out. But at least that's one data point that they can do it.