WINTER chill is not a hindrance for people here to venture out for delicious food. Rather, they head out to stuff themselves with nutrition that gives them a lot of energy. Lamb and mutton, traditionally considered hot energy, is a must on all winter food lists.
Hangzhou is known for its scenery and slow pace of life, but many new restaurants open every month, particularly mutton restaurants at this time of the season. Launching a venture during the peak season seems to be the rule of business.
As transportation becomes cheaper and easier these days, the new restaurants are competing with the existing and well-known ones in the quality of the mutton. Seasonings and recipes are becoming less important because as long as the meat is good, the dish is good. There are mainly three ways of cooking mutton: roast, boil and sautee. Shanghai Daily visits four restaurants that have lately earned a reputation for offering good quality mutton.
Jiang Bu La Ke 疆部拉克
Jiang Bu La Ke is the city’s only restaurant that provides authentic mutton from the Kunes River area in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a valley and a prairie, as well as home to lots of horse, sheep and Kazak people.
Kazak people brought their mutton and Xinjiang recipe to eastern Hangzhou. The most stunning dish is roasted whole lamb, luring eaters by its size and weighing about 7 or 8 kilograms — its golden look and strong appetizing smell are an absolute winner.
Chopsticks won’t work for this delicacy. Get a knife to cut into the golden shiny crispy skin, grab the juicy meat with your hands, dip them into cumin or pepper, and have a taste of the real Xinjiang mutton. Please call to reserve the dish before you go.
Because a sheep eats fresh grass every day it has little raw meat smell. Cooks just boil it and only add salt. There is no need for any other seasoning.
Other recommended mutton dish include spicy sheep feet, mutton kebab, and roasted lamb chop.
Address: 4 Xiaohe Rd 小河路4号
Tel: (0571) 8819-8949
Lobster Best 虾掰
Lobster Best is a restaurant that is known for its crayfish, which, however, is in short supply due to winter. So the restaurant sells mutton dishes instead. Its best-seller is the roasted mutton leg — the forelegs of the sheep from the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region.
Diners are given a long knife and a fork to cut the meat from the leg that is kept roasting on coal fire. Thus eating becomes a way of helping each other. One person handles the grill to stable the food, and the other cuts the piece and shares it with the rest.
But if you are too lazy to do the work, just ask the waiters to do that for you. They will serve it in a plate.
Another dish that local people enjoy is crab and lamb pot. Chinese people write the word “xian” (meaning umami or good taste) by combining fish and lamb. Inspired by this, the restaurant has merged crab — considered a “xian” food — along with lamb.
Address: 741 Moganshan Rd (in a creative park) 莫干山路741号(三宝西路),浙报理想丝科院内创意园区内
Tel: (0571) 5812-8898
A “home” and a rendezvous of the northwestern Chinese people in Hangzhou, the restaurant is run by Wu Zhifeng, a prime member of Xinjiang Business Association in Zhejiang Province. He was born in Zhejiang Province but had moved to Xinjiang during childhood.
When Wu returned, he brought his fusion recipe — combining Xinjiang’s meat and eastern China’s classical sauteed dishes.
Chefs here cook Xinjiang sheep in different ways. The menu has stewed lamb chops, sheep spine simmered in soy sauce, roasted mutton, and boiled mutton.
Address: No. 137, Qingzhiwu 青芝坞137号
Tel: (0571) 8680-0052
Unlike most other restaurants that thrive on quick service, Zayagan serves it slow, because it only cooks the dishes once the order has been placed.
To eat here, diners have to be patient not only for the dish to arrive but also for seats. That is because there are only eight tables, including two long ones and one outside.
But people are willing to wait. They either come early for the seat, or call days before to reserve a table. They usually have to wait for 40 minutes for the first course.
The secret of its business success is that the restaurant transports Sunit lamb from Inner Mongolia. It serves a kind of “sheep meat without sheep smell.” It doesn’t matter if it is boiled or roasted.
The chefs boil the lamb soup in a copper hotpot, a method used in Mongolia, with salt, cilantro, and some wolfberry. The soup naturally appears milky, and tastes mellow and delicate.
Address: No. 4, Qingzhiwu 青芝坞4号
Source: Shanghai Daily