I celebrated (Chinese) New Year’s Day by pigging out with E at Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot in my adopted hometown of San Mateo. I was first introduced to this restaurant chain from China through my dad, and not surprisingly L.A., more specifically Monterey Park (where 99% of the population is Chinese), was its first foray into California. Supposedly, the lamb is not as tender and juicy as the original stores in China because here in the U.S. (same situation in Taiwan), we cannot import the succulent real fatty lambs from the grassy plains of Mongolia. That is really too bad. Regardless, I am totally in love with the unique flavor brewed from Chinese herbs (to think I used to hate them when I was a kid!) and cannot get enough. I especially love the fatty lamb skewers (a must-try!), which is well-marinated with strong flavors of cumin. As usual, we requested the “yuan yang” or “mandarin duck” pot (鴛鴦鍋) and ordered enough for 4 – literally (the last time I was here with a real party of 4, we ordered about the same amount of food, possibly even less)! But E and I work well together as a solid team, and we polished off almost all the food, reluctantly taking back what remained of the soup base.
Undeterred by my full stomach, I suggested a trip to Harmony, a local frozen yogurt shop about 15 minutes’ drive away. Ever since I tasted the fresh tartness of Pinkberry, I have been on a frozen yogurt kick. While Harmony is not quite as good, somehow lacking in the milky texture of its more satisfying counterpart, it is a close enough knock-off in desperate times. We rushed there just before closing, and happily ate our supposedly healthy serving of frozen yogurt like little kids. It was a great ending to a delicious meal and the first day of the New Year.
[UPDATE: Based on Hui’s research, the actual percentage of the Chinese population in Monterey Park is really 61.82%. I’m sure the Chinese will take over the full 99% in no time.]