Marie-Lais with Chinese hot pot

#Gauteng52, Week 5: Hot Pot in Joburg’s Third Chinatown

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.

Little Sheep hot pot restaurant 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 in RivoniaOriental City.

Entrance to Oriental CityThe Much Better back entrance to Oriental City.

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.

Interior of Little SheepInside Little Sheep, which has a main space and several private rooms. I love the variety of wallpapers in the small rooms.

Hot pot menu at Little SheepThe 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.

Little Sheep hot pot ingredientsHot 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.

Marie-Lais and hot pot steamMarie-Lais in a cloud of hot pot steam.

We let things cook for a few minutes, then filled our little bowls.

Hot pot bowlMy 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.

Read all of my #Gauteng52 posts and check out the interactive #Gauteng52 map.

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7 Comments

  • Reply autumnashbough January 31, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    You know, there are a few strip malls like that in Monterrey Park, where much of LA’s Chinese-American communities are located. There’s one HUGE Chinese restaurant specializing in dim sum — and it’s always packed. Then there are a ton of little specialty shops that seem empty and change frequently.

    I haven’t done the hot pot restaurant yet. Maybe because Andy can’t bring himself to pay for food he has to cook himself! 😉

    • Reply 2summers January 31, 2017 at 5:33 pm

      Hahahahaaaa. Well I suppose he has a point.

      • Reply tenneymason January 31, 2017 at 10:46 pm

        Excellent food shots — particularly the ingredients and the steam images

        • Reply 2summers January 31, 2017 at 10:49 pm

          Thanks Dad. If you like food shots then I know they must be good.

  • Reply Lani February 4, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Hot pot places are very popular in Thailand. Teens love to hang out there and socialize. And they have all kinds from the upscale expensive ones to the cheap roadside ones. Somewhat related is “moo-gah-tah” which is like hot pot but with an area in the middle of the pot to grill meats. And that is popular with everyone, like crazy big gatherings, these restaurants look more like warehouse spaces. Good food, and yes, you eat too much!

  • Reply cheneyrelocationrevelations April 16, 2017 at 9:36 am

    Hey! We just moved to Joburg 2 weeks ago and I’ve been following your blog (love it), especially like the 52 weeks series because we need stuff to do! I have 2 teenage boys and my hubby started his 2 yr assignment here. Anyway…. we went to the hot pot restaurant last night and it was amazing!!! Thanks so much for letting us know about this gem.

    • Reply 2summers April 18, 2017 at 3:45 am

      My pleasure! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series and finding it helpful.

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