My friend Gang wanted to be sure that I tried one of Beijing's signature dishes so he took me to this restaurant as soon as I arrived. Hot pot is known throughout Asia and widely enjoyed in Beijing. Their favorite meat to put in the pot is lamb.
Here is our hot pot. Live coals are in the middle of the pot---this setup is not for amateurs. The pot itself is divided into two sections. One was set up as non-spicy with some mirepoix-style ingredients thrown in. The other side was spicy thanks to the addition of a bag of intense-looking sauce. As we ate, a server stopped by every few minutes to add water from a giant copper kettle.
I munched on these treats as we waited for the water to heat up. The cloves of garlic were marinated in vinegar and sugar. I had never tried this before and I really enjoyed it. I plan to try to make it myself at home.
Sauces came in a single bowl. The brown sauce is sesame, my favorite.
We enjoyed a wide range of meats and vegetables: lamb, beef, prawns, mushrooms. Gang rightly pointed out that the trick is to start with meat to flavor the boil, then throw in some vegetables. The food was delicious and this style of cooking is a great aid to conversation.