On one of my recent trips to China, I was surprised to see that one of my favorite places to eat had been remodeled. I have been going to this restaurant for several years, and nothing had ever been done to enhance the appearance, so it was a surprise for me to see a remodel had taken place. The food is still amazing, so I am happy about that!
This restaurant is called a “kao rou” restaurant, and you cook your own food over hot coals on the table in front of you. Before there was a large hood hanging over the hot coals for ventilation, but it made it hard to see others at the table with you. Also, it was easy to hit your head on the hood. With the remodel, you have a newer looking container for the hot coals, and a small arm near the coals for ventilation. I think this system works much better, and you can see others at your table.
Outside the restaurant on the sidewalk, they have a large bucket full of hot coals. They use a blower to get the coals exceptionally hot before they are delivered to your table.
In the winter it is very nice to have a container of hot coals near you! They will not only cook your food, but also keep you a little warmer. As you can see in the picture below, there are enough coals to generate lots of heat for your table and food!
After you have placed your order, you go to the area where you collect the seasonings you want for your meal. Usually you will start with a sesame paste and you will add vinegar and soy to that. Something I like to do is add some ground hot peppers into the paste, and you can see the selections below.
The beef at this restaurant is very lean and inexpensive, so it is a favorite! Also, they have marinated squid which is fantastic! It cooks much faster than the beef, so keep your eyes on it.
This type of restaurant is quite common in China, so I wanted to bring a little delicious custom from China to you!