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Restaurant notes: Little Lamb, Crave King, Blue Monk

An international Chinese hotpot chain called Little Lamb has opened a restaurant in Amherst.

The restaurant, at 3188 Sheridan Drive, is the fifth Little Lamb outlet in the United States, said Scott Li, an owner. It opened March 19. There are Little Lamb restaurants in Flushing, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom, as well as China.

Hotpot, which has its roots in Mongolia, is “really good for long winters,” Li said. “Hotpot is good for a sense of warmness, and beef and lamb can be especially enjoyed in wintertime.” Little Lamb’s goal is to provide authentic flavors from mainland China. “We wanted to open the gates to real Chinese food, not only for Chinese, but for everyone to enjoy,” he said.

Little Lamb is the second hotpot restaurant to open in Amherst. The first, Boiling Point, opened last year next to 80 China Cafe, at 1280 Sweet Home Road. Hotpot is also available at China Star, a Sichuan specialist at 4001 Sheridan Drive.

[See Andrew Galarneau's guide to authentic Chinese dishes]

Hotpot is a meal involving a simmering pot of broth and platters of ingredients, which are cooked in the broth before being eaten. In that way, it’s similar to shabu-shabu, or non-cheese-based fondues.

Thinly sliced meats, with several cuts of lamb a specialty, are a main attraction. But there are also platters of seafood, vegetables, tofu, noodles and meatballs, among other options. Diners are encouraged to create custom dipping sauces from an array of custom condiments.

A divider in the pot can allow tables to try two kinds of broth, such as tomato and spicy varieties. Chinese pastries and Mongolian barbecue dishes, prepared in the kitchen, are also available.

Customers can choose between dining-only tables, with no spending requirements, and karaoke booths, which require at least $150 in food and beverage purchases. That entitles booth occupants to three hours of karaoke as well as dinner.

The restaurant plans to serve beer, but does not have its license yet. Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Weekend reservations recommended. Phone: 834-0218.

Page one of the menu at Little Lamb. Click to see a larger image.

Page one of the menu at Little Lamb. Click to see a larger image.

Page two of the menu from Little Lamb. Click for a larger image.

Page two of the menu from Little Lamb. Click for a larger image.


Yemeni cuisine returns: A restaurant called Crave King has opened in Lackawanna, offering shawarma and Yemeni dishes in addition to Middle Eastern favorites.

Ahmed Alkadi, the owner, took over Crave King, at 2693 South Park Ave., after it closed last year. He was previously the owner of Sheba, a restaurant he ran for three years in a space down the street. It closed in 2012.

At Crave King, which opened last week, Alkadi has been working on his shawarma, layers of seasoned meat that is cooked, shaved and served in a variety of ways. It can be wrapped in pita bread with other fixings, which is the basic offering. It’s also served over plates of salad, rice or hummus.

Another Yemeni specialty is ghallaba, a chicken or lamb dish with vegetables that’s served on a sizzle platter, he said. There’s also falafel, hummus, salads and rice.

Shawarma can be made with lamb or beef, but Crave King is only serving chicken now, Alkadi said. On Saturday and Sunday, when the restaurant is busier, he serves shawarma the classic way, on a vertical rotating spit with meat shaved as it cooks.

The restaurant is presently open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Phone: 783-9743. Since it’s a new, small restaurant, it may take patience to get served at peak hours, Alkadi warned.


Emily’s moving: Emily’s Family Diner, which has satisfied Clarence crowds for nearly seven years, is moving west, onto Main Street.

Jamie Winger and her husband, Scott, who have operated their restaurant at 9105 Sheridan Drive, are closing it after service March 28. On April 1, they plan to reopen at 9980 Main St., Clarence, formerly the Main Ingredient, and before that Berrafato’s.

The Wingers, who named the restaurant after their daughter, plan to keep the menu the same. That means breakfast, lunch and Friday dinners, paid for by check or cash. Popular dishes have included Polish noodles called kluski scrambled with eggs, and housemade Hollandaise sauce for eggs Benedict - sometimes served over beef hash.

Emily’s new space is about twice the size, with more than 90 seats, Jamie Winger said. The old space “wasn’t big enough for us, so we were looking for a different spot,” she said. “The business has grown over the years, and we were looking for a more modern spot with better visibility.” (Hat tip: Don Boyd)

Blue Monk closing: A restaurant that helped put Buffalo on the national craft beer map has announced it will close.

Operator Mike Shatzel said the restaurant, at 727 Elmwood Ave., will close by April 1 or May 1, with the exact date yet to be determined.

Shatzel declined to sign a lease extension with landlord Kevin J. Brinkworth, whose son Kevin M. Brinkworth is a Blue Monk partner. Shatzel and the younger Brinkworth have had a strained relationship for years, including a physical altercation in the restaurant in April. Shatzel was arrested, but charges were dismissed. Afterward, both said they had put that behind them for the sake of the business.

Opened in 2010 in the former Merlin’s space, Blue Monk’s Belgian-intensive craft beer offerings helped usher in a new chapter in Buffalo’s beer history. It quickly gained an audience of craft fans with a lengthy, rapidly changing tap list often featuring brews unavailable elsewhere in Western New York. In 2012 it was named No. 19 beer bar in the world by the readers of

Blue Monk will close due to a dispute over the lease. (Don Nieman/Special to The News)

Blue Monk will close due to a dispute over the lease. (Don Nieman/Special to The News)

Landlord Kevin J. Brinkworth said he was sure the Blue Monk space would swiftly become another restaurant. Shatzel said that he would find another home for the Blue Monk concept, albeit under another name.

The restaurant employs about 30. Shatzel said they should be able to find work at other restaurants he is a partner in, including the upcoming Thin Man Brewery and the renovated Colter Bay, both of which are about two months from opening, or Liberty Hound, which reopens in mid-April.

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