Updated: 2013-01-14 15:35
By Ye Jun (China Daily)
The colder the weather the better the business at Big Bear Grilled Lamb Leg Restaurant. As soon as wait staff light the charcoal on your grilling table, you'll warm up.
Most customers enjoy drinking white liquor while they use a long-handled knife and fork to cut meat from a grilled lamb's leg on an iron roast stand. There is ventilation above the grill, but a smoky atmosphere is par for the course.
Manager Wang Wei says he often used to visit Bashang resort in Hebei province, which offers grassland adventures and the best grilled lamb.
He liked it so much he was inspired to open his own grilled lamb eatery. In just three years he has set up five branches in Beijing, testimony to the popularity of the cooking style in the capital city.
A typical order might be a lamb leg, two cold dishes, and a bottle of Chinese liquor, though milk tea and homemade yogurt are also good choices.
Wang says he buys in big quantities and therefore can choose the best lamb from suppliers in Inner Mongolia's Xilin Gol League. He uses 4-month-old free-range lamb, compared to the 6-month-old lamb at most grilled lamb restaurants. One lamb leg weighs from 1.5-2 kg, and is 40 percent meat.
Because the lamb is marinated before grilling, one doesn't have to dip it in sauce. The inside cuts, however, can be dipped in cumin, sesame, pepper and salt.
The restaurant provides specially designed knives and forks with long handles to tackle the lamb.
Even so, if you still have some difficulty cutting the meat from the bone, the wait staff will do it for you. It's surprising how much meat you can save this way.