Chubby Cattle Mongolia Hot Pot House
2015 Monchhof Riesling / Scarbolo Campo Viotto
House Original Pot
House Hellishly Spicy Pot
Crawfish Broil – Mussels, Corn, Shrimp, Crawfish, Dried Peppers
Seaweed Salad and Peanut Butter Sauce
Cucumber Salad and Fried Garlic
Green Tea, Tomato and Yam Noodles
Signature Hand-Cut Beef Combo – Brisket, Ribeye, Japanese Wagyu
Hand Cut Texan Dorper Sheep
Seafood Combo Platter – Tiger Shrimp, Crab, Scallops, Mussels, Manila Clams
Veggie Combo Platter – Lettuce, Daikon, Bok Choy, Napa Cabbage, Water Cress
Mixed Mushroom Basket – Enoki, Oyster, White Beech, Shitake, Wood Ear, King Oyster
Already one of the hottest tickets in Chinatown, but planning a nationwide rollout and unwilling to offer a second rate experience as ownership hopes to bring Hot Pot culture to the American mainstream, it was on the invite of Joe Muscaglione that a party of four sat down in one of the private rooms at Chubby Cattle Mongolia Hot Pot House on South Jones Boulevard, a variety of tastes, ages and even religious preferences represented with all getting their fill of food that was not only well sourced and delicious, but also a whole lot of fun.
Dating back thousands of years in terms of its first references in Mongolia, but obviously much older in terms of the simple idea of cooking Protein, Vegetables and Herbs in a large vessel, Chinese Hot Pot in its current format is said to have gained nationwide acceptance somewhere during the Yuan or Ming Dynasty and although variations on the theme now exist throughout the Mainland, Japan and even the Philippines the idea of tableside communal cooking remains foreign to most American’s, a situation that Chubby Cattle’s focus on individual pots with shared ingredients soon hopes to change.
Originally opened in August 2016, but briefly closing recently for an internal remodel that brightened up the space while ownership went so far as to source A5 Wagyu from Japan and their own genetic line of Dorper Sheep to ensure quality of product as the conveyor belt-style space grows in reach, it was on opening night of version 2.0 that hundreds of patrons sat down to get a taste of one of five Soups and nearly seventy diverse items to cook tableside, everything from Mushrooms and hand-cranked Noodles to Pork Blood and Geoduck included.
Fortunately spared the forty-minute waits and close set tables, the later not particularly a turn-off as the action behind glass at both ends of the room may be as entertaining to some as the persons with whom they are sharing a meal, it was just past 7:00pm during the height of the rush that a server explained Chubby Cattle’s concept before presenting four different Soups and turning the electric burners up to three, the aromatics soon perfuming the air with bubbling to commence just a few minutes afterward.
Allowing the staff to make selections at will, one member of the table abstaining from Pork and Shellfish consistently pleased from beginning to end with her Tomato-based Broth and items including an impressive variety of leafy Greens and Mushrooms including thin King Oyster slices and pillowy Wood Ears that became soft and thoroughly saturated after just a quick bath in the Soup, other Soup bases ranging $5-6 included Mixed Mushroom and the traditional Pork based version as well as the “Hellishly Hot” one with dried Chili Peppers, a similar base used in the daily special Crawfish Broil with Corn, Shrimp and Mussels all intermingling with fresh Crustaceans just flown in from New Orleans the prior evening.
Making two trips to an all-you-care-to-eat Toppings and Salad Bar as the table waited briefly for ingredients to arrive, both the Seaweed and Cucumber Salad very good with the former lightly spiced and the later pickled and refreshing when transitioning between various ingredients at the table, other choices such as Korean Hot Sauce, Soy, Crispy Garlic and even Sugar were available for those looking to augment flavors completely to their liking, a bit of still-steamy Hellishly Hot with a tablespoon of Peanut Butter proving a great way to enjoy Tofu, whether fleshly sliced and gelatinous or fried, springy and soft.
Pairing the meal with two Wines, the Red going over well with most while the Riesling with a bit of residual sugar stood up well to both the Hot and Traditional broths, it was not long before a plate of Beef arrived featuring Brisket, Ribeye and Japanese Wagyu, a bit of resistance needed to resist simply eating the latter as it was, the first attempt to not overcook the thin slices a notable failure with the heat subsequently turned down to 1, a thirty second dip yielding just the right amount of cooking to maximize both texture and flavor.
Next offered a platter of chilled Seafood, the communal table adjacent going all-out with live Shrimp and Lobster but missing out on the freshly shucked Scallops and Manila Clams that took a while to yield themselves to low heat, it was only the skimpy King Crab that proved the slightest bit disappointing, the previously frozen meat a bit mushy in its texture while the Tiger Shrimp, when properly cooked, were snappy and delicious complete with head, shell and tail.
Told that the hand-cut Sheep was something special, a simple glance at the brick-red muscle and rim of fat indicating a quality breed with a backstory that includes cross-breeding and genetics that were specifically sought out by the owners of Chubby Cattle, it was with pots set at two that raw flesh turned into juicy morsels with an up-front funk but clean finish, the hand cranked noodles available in three-varieties rounding things out and great not only as ‘filler,’ but also based on fact that they cook up well in just minutes while still maintaining a bit of tooth even if they spend a more lengthy amount of time in the broth.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS: With little basis for comparison aside from a few fine-dining Shabu-Shabu courses it would seem that the folks at Chubby Cattle are doing everything right to dominate a field that most Americans would likely find both accessible and fun if given a chance to see it for themselves, the quality of the ingredients every bit worth a price-tag that seems ‘cheap’ only because the portions are sensible and offered a la carte with most patrons likely to be happily sated with food that is mostly quite healthy for under $20.
RECOMMENDED: Hand Cut Texan Dorper Sheep, Mixed Mushroom Basket, Signature Hand-Cut Beef Combo, Noodle Combo, Hellishly Hot Soup.
AVOID: King Crab.
TIP: 5:00pm to 12:30pm Daily. Reservations available by phone or online.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.