Little Lamb is a great choice for a North Chinese style hotpot.
This always happens. We walk into Chinatown with the aim of eating at some restaurant in particular. We have a pre-dinner beer at our favourite spot: an outside table at the Covent Garden Hotel at the bottom of the Dixon Street Mall, one of the finest people-watching spots in Sydney. A civilised pre-dinner beer turns into a minor lager frenzy, by which time our restaurant of choice has shut for the evening.
After 10pm most of Chinatown is closing but the revitalised strip along the northern end of Dixon Street is still buzzing. We are drawn in like moths to a lightbulb.
There's a few places to choose from but who could walk past a restaurant called Little Lamb without giving it a whirl? Little Lamb is a Northern Chinese style hotpot place with a pleasant spot to eat outside and a cavernous buffet eatery upstairs.
We can't go past the 'Half Spicy \ Half Normal' hotpot, a sweet deal at $18 each.
The 'normal' broth is superb: light, clear, fresh and cleansing, probably based on chicken & veggie stock. The 'spicy' broth has a real Northern Chinese kick: strong cumin and nutmeg flavours with a good chili hit; big generous hunks of spices afloat. After eating at a similar place across the road we learnt the spicy broth is for dunking but not drinking, a lesson learned the hard way.
The set comes with a small mountain of thinly sliced pork...
...plus another small mountain of thinly sliced beef...
...and a most interesting veggie selection including glass noodles, silken tofu, bean curd knots, bean curd skin, fresh lotus root, chinese greens and seaweed. Our favourite part was the fresh lotus root: think potato crossed with radish, most delicious when cooked in the normal broth then given a quick dunk in the spicy broth.
On our travels overseas we found hotpot soups to be a healthy and cheap way to eat, particularly in Vietnam where we near lived on them. In Australia we have found hotpot soups overpriced but Little Lamb gives good value for money at $18 per person with generous servings. The next day I pay $12 for barely decent, unsatisfying toasted sandwich at a cafe in Newtown, $18 for good hotpot is a bargain.
Little Lamb is at 52 Dixon St, north of the mall.