First Lamb Shabu: Primal Cravings
For those of you that might not know, hot pot is a Chinese soup that contains a variety of Asian ingredients. It's prepared in a large pot and placed at the dining table. Most of the time, the ingredients will arrive to your table raw and you will have to cook it yourself.
First Lamb Shabu is the first NY outpost of the Chinese food and beverage conglomerate, Lao Cheng Yi Guo. The company specializes in lamb hot pot, a dish that has been a favorite in Northern China for hundreds of years. Other hot pot places offer a dipping sauce to augment the taste of the hot pot broth. First Lamb Shabu doesn't need this because all the flavor is already in the broth!
Compared to other hot pots, the lamb hot pot feels less oily and more meaty. Actually, the broth's variety of flavors is so well-balanced that the soup can be consumed on its own. None of the flavors feel overwhelming or muted. Each sip gives me a bit of a cough because of all those infused spices. But, I still love it. It's undeniably addicting.
The lamb spine is the best thing here. Each person is given a set of plastic gloves to grab and rip apart the meat of the spine. I like to hold the bone in one hand and use chopsticks with the other. The meat of the lamb spine has substantial flavor. The meat feels lean but it has good embedded fats. The warm flavors linger on the tongue longer than expected. And, the meat is conducive to absorbing the flavors and aromas of the spice-laden broth.
The spine also comes with a bit of rich, buttery, fatty marrow that can be poked out with a chopstick. This whole experience will feel primitive but it's a lot of fun. PRO TIP: Even though the lamb spine arrives to your table cooked. Try to let it bathe and boil in the broth a little longer. This will ensure that the meat is extra tender.
First Lamb Shabu is near the Main St. Flushing subway line. It's next to the Macy's.
Whenever we go to hot pot, I need tofu. Today, we had Frozen Tofu. It soaks up all the fantastic flavors and broth. SO GOOD.
Here's the Duck Feet. Almost tripe-like, these have good absorption characteristics as well.
King Oyster Mushrooms are my favorite mushrooms. They're meaty and flavorful even without the broth. The texture also reminds me of abalone.
The mini sausage is decent. They're made of pork and have a fair amount of pork and fat. The meat is actually a little bit sweet so it's a great way to cut through some of the spices in the broth.
When I eat with my buddies, Quail Eggs are a crowd favorite. They're already pre-boiled but the boiling pot of soup is sometimes so hot that the quail eggs pop and the yolk seeps into the broth a little bit. At the same time, the yolk moistens and soaks up some of the soup.
The Radish is very thinly sliced. This is uncommon to other hot pot places because it's usually much thicker to soak up more broth. I liked it this way anyway because they're more bite-sized and I can throw them directly into my mouth.
As I mentioned earlier, the broth of the soup isn't overly oily. It's somewhat clear and you can see some of the spices that were used.
I know it's on the cover of this post but I wanted to share another picture of this Lamb Spine and Lamb Chops Hot Pot. Just enjoy it and bask in its glory.