Welcome to Week 5 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Little Sheep, and Asian hot pot restaurant in Rivonia.
I recently heard a rumor that Shanghai Hinabe, the Chinese hot pot restaurant in Parkmore, closed down. I was devastated. Shanghai Hinabe is one of my favorite Asian restaurants.
Fortunately that rumor turned out to be false — I called the other day and was assured that Shanghai Hinabe is alive and well, although it’s only open for dinner.
But in the meantime I was tipped off to an even quirkier hot pot restaurant — Little Sheep in Rivonia.
The Little Sheep restaurant in Rivonia. Little Sheep is an international hot pot chain in China and a few other countries. The logo for this restaurant is the same as the chain’s, but the South African location is not listed on the company’s website. So the Rivonia restaurant could be a Little Sheep knock-off.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time exploring Rivonia over the years. Once a small, semi-rural suburb, Rivonia is now a dense mass of strip malls with a sprinkling of quaint, family-owned businesses and strip clubs. (Yes, you read that right. Rivonia is a strip club hot spot.)
Asian shops and restaurants — Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese — have flocked to Rivonia over the past decade and people have started referring to it as a “Third Chinatown”, although I guess it’s really more of an Asia Town. (Joburg’s first Chinatown is on Commissioner Street downtown, and its second Chinatown is in the suburb of Cyrildene.)
The center of Rivonia’s Asia Town is the Oriental City mall, formerly called Rivonia Square.
Oriental City is a weird place. The outside is ringed with relatively busy restaurants but inside is a desolate wasteland, with just a few stores selling cheap Chinese imports. On the bottom floor of the parking garage there is, oddly, a noisy go-kart course.
But I digress. In short, I would not recommend Oriental City as a shopping destination. I would, however, recommend eating hot pot at Little Sheep, which is on the outside corner of Oriental City on Rivonia Boulevard.
A Steaming Hot Pot at Little Sheep
Marie-Lais and I arrived mid-morning on a weekday at Little Sheep, at an odd hour that was not quite breakfast and not quite lunch. The restaurant was empty but open, the server ready and waiting to take our order. It took us a while to figure out the menu though.
The first page of the hot pot menu at Little Sheep (it continues onto the back), which makes a fascinating read. We tried to fill it in ourselves but eventually gave up. The server also struggled to help us, and eventually the cook came out and explained what to do. We skipped the pork brain, beef throat, and duck blood cubes.
In the end we ordered a half-half hot pot base (one half mild and the other half spicy) with “golden fish balls”, pork, mushrooms, and Asian greens. I would have liked to order more things but the price rises quickly with each added ingredient.
The server brought out our pre-seasoned pot of broth, set it on the burner, and switched it on. Then she brought our ingredients.
Hot pot ingredients, ready to go. The smaller bowls of sauces and herbs are complimentary. The meat ingredients arrive partially frozen, which is off-putting at first. But it all tastes great once it’s cooked. If you’d like to read more about how the hot pot process works, read my old post about Shanghai Hinabe.
Once the pot heated up, we started adding ingredients. Fragrant steam began to rise.
We let things cook for a few minutes, then filled our little bowls.
My bowl of broth (the spicy broth is the best) with mushrooms (the stringy things that look like noodles), fish balls, pork, and greens, topped with peanut sauce, chili, garlic, and cilantro (coriander). I refilled many times.
I love the authenticity of Little Sheep. I’ve never been to East Asia, but I have a feeling this is what hot pot restaurants in China are like. Overall I still prefer the atmosphere and food at Shanghai Hinabe, but it’s not open for lunch. So if you find yourself craving hot pot in the middle of the day (or the middle of the morning, in our case), Little Sheep is your place.
And by the way, Happy Lunar New Year!
Little Sheep is located in Shop G-A3 in Oriental City, Rivonia Corner. Contact them at 060-533-3630 or 076-062-7765.