Rong Tian Sheep Spine

Hotpot in Drum Tower & Dongcheng North

It doesn't get more primal than at this local hotpot dive, where the mutton, instead of being thinly sliced, comes in caveman-style hunks of sheep spine (羊蝎子; yángxiēzi), ready-cooked in a tabletop soup cauldron. Order your sheep by the jīn (500g) and a few other raw-ingredient additions to simmer in the soup just like a standard Chinese hotpot.

A big choice of add-ins include sweet potato (红薯; hóng shǔ), tofu (鲜豆腐; xiān dòufu), wood-ear mushroom (木耳; mù’ěr), white radish (白萝卜; bái luóbo) and Chinese spinach (油麦菜; yóu mài cài). Noodles (free of charge) are thrown in at the end to soak up the juices. When you’re ready for them, say ‘fàng miàn’ (put the noodles in).