No trip to Beijing cannot go without a meal of traditional old Beijing Hotpot 涮羊肉. I have been to all the old classics, found a local favourite (Old Door Post), and this time I tried the Internet favourite, most Instagrammable hotpot.
South Gate Hotpot was founded in 1994 and specialises in the traditional halal old Beijing Hotpot. Formerly called “Hongyuan Hotpot”, the original store was located near the South Gate 南门 of the Temple of Heaven 天坛 and hence was often referred to as “South Gate Hotpot” by customers and friends. Over the years, it has gained popularity and reputation in Beijing and established itself as one of the steward of the old Beijing traditional hotpot.
Each table will have one serving of complimentary peanuts, pickled radishes and pickled garlic 糖蒜, as well as a super cute smiley bowl of sesame sauce 小料. It was this 🙂 sauce and single serve individual hotpot that got it so popular among the working OL of Beijing.
Compared with the hot and spicy Sichuan-style hot pot, the traditional copper pot of the old Beijing hotpot is made with water as the broth. The meat becomes the star and so the meat quality has to be exceptional. If it is not fresh or tender, it can be directly declared as a failure.
In order to control the quality of the meat, they own their own pasture to raise these lambs. They took lambs from Inner Mongolia and raised them under strict control in Hebei using feeds and pasture grass from Inner Mongolia. While all these could be just marketing gimmicks, the test is in the pudding. You need to taste the meat to know if they are of quality.
They served two kinds of meat – the machine-cut meat came from frozen cuts of the lamb and beef. I am not a fan of these kinds of meat. They are sliced too thinly and all moisture of the meat are lost in the process. I prefer the hand-cut ones, but since they are running a business, you cannot cut these meats fast enough for sale in the shops. Just look at the size of their operations! There are almost 100 tables in the dining hall, and over 1000 people eating at any one go.
We ordered two hand-cuts – the leaner lamb shank 鲜切羊腱. Usually one would avoid this cut because it is really lean and could be too chewy if overcooked. In Western cuisines, lamb shanks are usually slow cooked in stew. But you would be surprised that when superiorly cut by experts, they can be blanched and still taste tender.
The second we ordered was the more marbled and tender lamb loin 鲜切羊肉. Again superbly cut, the lamb loin was worth the 30 min wait.
The Other Stuff
There were many other cuts and stuff you can order, but you would have to order a portion of the Cow Tripe 爆肚 to have the complete experience. Of course, there’s always the ladies favourite plate of assorted handmade noodles 面条拼盘.
The open dining hall can seat 1000 people. The wait was around an hour at 6pm, and you cannot do any reservations.
South Gate Hotpot 南门涮肉(东单店)
Tel : 010 85628899
Date Visited : Aug 2018
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