Down a quiet hútòng is this locals' favourite serving mouthwateringly good sheep-spine hotpot. Order your sheep-spine chunks (普通羊蝎子; pǔtōng yángxiēzi) by the jīn (500g). Two jins' worth (二斤; èr jīn) is normally about right. They will then come ready-cooked in a boiling broth – the longer you leave them to simmer, the juicier they get.
You then add other raw ingredients to cook in the broth like a standard Chinese hotpot. Our favourite extras include sweet potato (红薯; hóng shǔ), tofu blocks (鲜豆腐; xiān dòufu), mushrooms (木耳; mù’ěr), Oriental raddish (白萝卜; bái luóbo) and Chinese spinach (油麦菜; yóu mài cài). Complimentary fresh noodles are thrown in at the end, to soak up the juices. When you’re ready for them, say ‘fàng miàn’ (put the noodles in). No English sign or menu, and no English spoken.