Another perfect summer evening stroll, this time after over-indulging in the sweetest and tenderest ribs of lamb that I can ever recall eating at the Xibei Youmiancun Restaurant (西贝莜面村) in Wudaokou.
The name of the restaurant is a play on words for it serves food from northwestern China (西北). According to its menu and the videos playing on the numerous digital signage screens inside, Xibei lamb is so good because the livestock are raised on the grasslands where they “eat pure grass, drink pure water, and roam free-range.”
Judging by the freshness of the food, this was a rare case of truth in marketing. Without exception all the dishes were fresh and tasty. They included braised pork with bean curd, sautéed roman lettuce with scallion oil, and oat rolls with tomato sauce, and were topped off by yogurt and natural honey and wild sea buckthorn juice from the Luliang Mountain Range. Since the mountains are located thousands of miles away from the ocean near Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi, I’m not exactly sure where the wild sea comes in – but given how delicious the juice was I’m more than happy to believe in its authenticity.
Xibei Youmiancun is a franchised restaurant with many locations throughout China. The service and décor were excellent, and at around 100RMB (US$15) per person a pretty good deal. It’s certainly worth checking out when you are in China.
Since the streets around Wudaokou were packed to the gills with couples celebrating Chinese Lovers Day, I ventured further out to an old-style market. The scenes of men sat on stools around tables eating, drinking, smoking, and shooting the breeze weren’t exactly romantic but a lot more evocative of the “Old Beijing” street life that I enjoy so much.