The Muslim Meat Place

We all know that learning Chinese is difficult. Learning written Chinese at times seems nearly impossible. Still, I’ve managed to memorize a few characters here and there, not enough to help me read properly, though. So what happens when you go to a shop or a restaurant that you really like? How do you know what it is called? If you don’t ask and attempt to repeat carefully the pronunciation, or there is no pinyin writing, or romanized spelling, then you just don’t. Us expats here in China usually just invent creative descriptions and names to remember the places we like – “The stadium supermarket” “The KFC mall” “The Mongol place” “The flashy restaurant” “The 24 hour restaurant” “The good chicken wrap place.”

Last night we discovered “The Muslim Meat Place” and ooohhhh what a discovery!!! First of all, for those unaware, there are quite a few Muslims in China. While the largest Muslim population is located in the Western province of Xinjiang, there are Muslims scattered all across the country. Most cities have a Muslim area with mosque, halal markets and restaurants. The restaurants are famed for having excellent barbecue kebabs and good lamb and beef dishes, in other words – MEAT! (Han Chinese, the majority people, eat a lot of mainly vegetable dishes with meat pieces added in, but the Muslims use meat as the centerpiece.)

Our Chinese friend, Mr. W., invited us to eat Beijing duck with him last night, but because we arrived fairly late, the restaurant was closing. We sped off to what Mr. W. promised would be a delicious meat feast, instead. We weren’t disappointed. The restaurant was almost empty but they welcomed us anyway and before I could even take my coat off several dishes began appearing at the table. (Food always comes fast and hot in a Chinese restaurant.) We had calamaris, mushrooms and beef, marinated beef with green peppers (so good!), a dish which looked to me like hot chilis with more hot chilis (super hot), and the highlight – one of the best things I have ever eaten – a whole leg of small lamb, served Fred Flintstone style. The waiter brought me some plastic gloves so I wouldn’t get dirty because this is not something you eat with a knife & fork or chopsticks. You eat it with your hands like the hungry caveman/woman you are.

It was delicious. The meat was so tender it just fell off the bone and melted. The whole leg was covered in a hot spice mixture that is very commonly used in the Chinese Muslim and Mongolian cooking. I like that kind of spice so it didn’t bother me, but it did get hot towards the end. I’ve never eaten lamb like that before. I have to say it was the best I’ve ever tried. Of course this is the night that I left the camera at home, so you’ll just have to use your imagination.

The night was a really special treat for DH as lamb is his most favorite food on the planet. When I glanced over at him, happily devouring the meat off a leg that he held in his hand, I knew he was in heaven.

As we were leaving, the owner or manager (I’m not sure who he was.) invited us to come back later in the week for the 18th anniversary party of the restaurant. He promised delicious food and gifts for us!

After experiences like this I can’t help but be thankful that we decided to return to China for another year. I think that if we based our ideas and opinions of China on our time in Shijiazhuang only, we really wouldn’t have a clear picture of how much fun this place can be. (or how much incredible food there is!)

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2 Responses to “The Muslim Meat Place”

  1. Lilandra Says:

    Oh, man, good food!
    I wish I were currently in a country with good food!

  2. mongolia » Blog Archive » The Restless Minestrone Says:

    […] The whole leg was covered in a hot spice mixture that is very commonly used in the Chinese Muslim and Mongolian cooking. I like that kind of spice so it didn t bother me, but it did get hot towards the end. I ve never eaten lamb like … …MORE […]

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