Catering: With the right guide, Lil ‘Pot is an interesting hot-pot adventure


If Anthony Bourdain had written this Lil ‘Pot review, it could have started this way.

“Our fixer and flourishing supplier of the best meats, whose name could rhyme with O’Grady, was crazy about this fondue place when it opened in early 2019. It is in a still somewhat sketchy part of the good market town of Waterloo , where sales of jars of all kinds now take place in broad daylight, and the engines of revival roll inexorably along the nearby historic thoroughfare known as King Street.

“Of course, an adventurous ‘Laowai’ might inadvertently find this place off the beaten path and gorge on high-quality Wagyu cuts, regardless of the warning signs of an impending break in their wallet. But they would move on. next door. Because that’s where the darker, meaner bits dominate the menu. In a good way, not like back then in Berlin.

“Duck and pork blood, pork brains, breakfast meat – sound so much sexier than spam – fish balls with cheese, beef tongue and tripe (ordinary or, for the real enthusiast, honeycomb), intestines and my all-time win-win – dinner chicken – gizzards – all simmered in any broth of your choice, from the nutritious Gateway soup base to a raging spicy soup that burnt the soul indelibly, making me want to go back.

Not embodying the relentless behavior that has seen Bourdain eat the world, my mileage has varied in one of the most difficult review meals since my first in 2015. The principle behind fondue is to add various ingredients to a pan. of simmering broth before fishing them to take pleasure. Life is incomplete until you search with chopsticks for a quail egg camouflaged in a deep, cloudy broth.

At Lil ‘Pot, the components are generally of high quality, and like at Dim Sum, we mark the selections on a card. An innovative dual-zone pot allows two selections of broth to be placed on a built-in induction burner in front of every dinner to bubble. There are over 70 ingredient options, including those mentioned above, to choose from.

From thinly sliced ​​beef and lamb, we ordered crisp oyster and enoki mushrooms, black mushrooms, long jellyfish shaped seaweed, quail eggs, lobster balls, broccoli, watercress, fresh corn, squid and flathead shrimp, among others. We avoided the nasty cuts and didn’t ask for any of the five available noodles. Fried buns with a pinch of sugar provided a sweeter carbohydrate solution. Dessert options were limited: watermelon or ice cream.

Unlike an impromptu lunch visit with a friend 2019, the review visit was frustrating. The restaurant is not on social media and there are few web references there. Unless you read Chinese or think about using Google Translate – a fascinating exercise in this case – the website lacks menu information, hours of operation, or is at will. We tried our luck and ventured out.

Not exactly a good mood, our menu arrived with, in fact, an implied contract outlining our obligations as diners. We agreed to: occupy the table for no more than two hours; the imposition of fines for unnecessary behavior; and a cost per person ($ 51.20, taxes and tip included).

The major difference between the two visits was that on the first the lovely owner Clara Apolo was present. She helped guide our choices, explaining that she personally sources high quality lamb and beef from local farms and prepares the broths in-house. She also explained the protocols to us for enjoying a fondue and kindly invited us a serving of Wagyu to taste.

In Apolo’s absence, although the selections arrived quickly and our broth was periodically refreshed, his otherwise pleasant staff were not really equipped to deal with relatively inexperienced hot-poters like us. They were unable to fully explain menu items and did not draw our attention to the availability of sauces and condiments at a side table.

I found the food to be satisfactory, but my wife was far from a fan of the whole DIY experience. Although Apolo is a person half full of glass, it’s clear that Lil ‘Pot has been hit hard by the pandemic. It offers an interesting and adventurous alternative to all-you-can-eat sushi. The use of individual two-zone jars makes it possible to eat together without the potential for sharing COVID cooties.

Would I try the gizzards next time? With a proper guide, I might as well.


The meal columns focus on food available for pickup, take-out and delivery in Waterloo Region, as well as meals eaten on terraces and in restaurants. They are based on orders or unexpected visits to establishments. Restaurants do not pay for any portion of the reviewer’s meal. Alex Bielak can be contacted via or Twitter (@alexbielak).

Little Pot

220 King St. N., Unit G1, Waterloo (entrance from Regina Street, due to construction on King)


Hours: Monday to Wednesday: 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday to Sunday: noon to 11 p.m.

Payment: Cash, credit and debit cards and wire transfer

Getting your food: Dine on site or order the raw ingredients to prepare them at home.

The law project: $ 102.40 (taxes included and mandatory 15% tip) for two unlimited meals. Diners can save $ 2.20 by paying in cash. The premium meal, including various cuts of AYCE 5A Wagyu beef, costs $ 96 per person ($ 92 cash). There is a waste charge of $ 6 per 100 grams, if there is food left over.

Accessibility: While the premises are accessible by a ramp and there is an automatic door opener for one of the two toilets, access to these is blocked by various supplies, while the accessible bathroom is used, in part, for storage.

To note: COVID-related issues with the website are unlikely to be resolved soon. Also, like many other restaurateurs, the owner struggles to find and retain staff. She has had to close unexpectedly on several occasions which is why reservations are strongly suggested to ensure the restaurant is open.

Ordering food at the time of the coronavirus: As restaurants make day-to-day decisions, check their social networks or call them for updates. Lists of restaurants open while dining halls are closed can be found at and; a crowdsourced list is on Facebook’s Food In The Waterloo Region at


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