Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot, an internationally acclaimed hot pot brand, is marking its expansion to the East Coast with a store in Flushing. The restaurant is set to open in early to mid May. According to Peter Yang, the East Coast operations manager of Little Sheep International, the company is also eyeing locations in Manhattan, Boston, and Philadelphia.
With more than 400 locations in China, Little Sheep’s Asia division is owned by Yum Brands–the company responsible for Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC.
Hot pot is a Chinese-style version of fondue. Ingredients are cooked in a simmering broth of soup, sometimes flavored. It’s served family style, and for the Chinese, it is usually a special-occasion meal. Although Little Sheep is relatively unknown outside of Asian-food circles, the brand has been called “the Applebee’s of China.”
“What sets us apart is definitely our broth,” Yang says. “We have 36 spices and herbs, so it’s a really unique soup base.” Compared to shabu shabu–where most of the food comes with sauce–what distinguishes Little Sheep from other hot pot varieties is that you don’t need sauce to eat it.
There will be herbal, spicy, and vegetarian broth options. The New York location will also have more seafood options compared to its West Coast counterparts. Although the Chinese restaurant remains relatively under the radar, Yang says that he hopes Little Sheep will be just as warmly received in New York as it has been internationally.
“Our restaurant has been around the world,” Yang says. “If they know our name, we’re trying to give them the same consistent flavor that they’re used to.”