Roasted whole sheep, a traditional and unique dish, used to be a privilege enjoyed only by Mongolian kings due to the special and complicated cooking method. Luckily enough, everyone can taste it now. Roasted whole sheep is famous not only for its quality mutton but also for its special method of preparation. The mutton, filled with various spices, is first heated at high temperatures in an airtight oven until medium-well done. Then the mutton is roasted with fire until it becomes golden. This allows the flavors of the spices to pervade the meat completely. The mutton is then served on a huge plate (its diameter can be 3.28 feet long) and given to guests according to their status. This kind of roasted mutton is crispy but not greasy. Anyone who has tasted it will be unable to forget it.
Roasted mutton leg is derived from roasted whole sheep. The leg is the most delicious part of the sheep and requires less time to roast than the whole sheep. Therefore, roasted mutton leg gradually became popular. Roasted mutton chop and mutton barbecue cannot be missed, either. In particular, enjoying mutton barbecue with friends is the best pastime on a summer evening.
Unlike roasted whole sheep, shouba rou (boiled mutton eaten with hands) is more popular among herdsmen. Mutton is boiled in a wok without salt or any other spices. Shouba rou is then cut with a Mongolian knife and dipped into seasonings. Herdsmen usually have shouba rou as supper. Tourists who leave the grassland without tasting shouba rou cannot grasp the dining habits and sentiments of the grassland. Herdsmen cannot express their hospitality without treating guests with shouba rou. However, it is important to remember never to choose the mutton yourself. The host will select mutton from different parts for guests; for example, the aged will have lamb leg and young people will be given ribs, while ladies will have the honor of enjoying the tender parts of the chest.
Instant boiled mutton is very popular all over China, but the mutton in Inner Mongolia is more tender than that in any other area. This is absolutely a good choice in cold weather.
Fried sheep tail is made up of fat from the sheep tail, egg white, preserved fruit and sugar. This dish is beautiful, sweet and crispy with the flavor of fruit.
Roasted mutton cubes are made by wrapping mutton cubes with egg, flour paste and seasonings, then roasting the dish in an oven. Serve with pie, green onions, etc.
All-fish banquets include more than 120 dishes made from unpolluted fish or shrimp from Hulun Lake. All-fish banquets can have 12, 14, 20, 24 or even more than 100 courses made from carp, crucian, and shrimp prepared by boiling, steaming, frying, stewing, etc.
Dairy products are abundant and include cheese, milk curd, salty milk tea and mare milk drink, which is a highlight of any trip to this region. Mare milk drink is regarded as very precious by herdsmen. Whenever guests come, herdsmen will treat them with generous servings of mare milk drink. This special drink is tasty and tonic; it can drive away cold and invigorate the circulation of blood.
The staple food here is oats. Oat powder can be made into noodles for mutton or vegetable soup seasoned with pepper and garlic. This is very popular among locals.
Shaomei are steamed dumplings with minced mutton. Shaomei used to be for breakfast only but now has become a must in many eateries and homes.
Fried millet is a staple food for herdsmen. First millet is fried, and then the chaff is ground. Serve with milk tea with salt or sugar. It is so savory that it has become a must for both locals and guests when tasting milk tea.
In addition, travelers should try fried noodles, camel meat mince pie and fried rice at least once to know what the locals' daily lives are like.
The roasted whole sheep can be tasted in restaurants in five-star hotels such as Xin Cheng Hotel (5 Star), located at No.40 Hulun South Road, Hohhot. The Mongolian Khan's Banquet, Erdos Wedding Banquet, Happy Nadam Fair Banquet, and Zhaojun Banquet offered here are all traditional Mongolian tastes.
Malaqin Restaurant, situated in Xincheng West Street, also serves Mongolian-style food. Specialties here include roasted mutton leg, roasted mutton tail, mutton barbeque, shouba rou, instant-boiled mutton and many other dishes.
Gufengxuan Restaurant is an old establishment featuring Muslim dishes. It enjoys a good reputation locally. There are more than 150 kinds of delicacies such as mince pie, mutton barbeque, roasted beef, sesame mutton, etc. It is located in Zhongshan West Road.
Western restaurants can be found in Xin Cheng Hotel (5-star), Inner Mongolia Hotel (5-star), Phoenix Hotel Inner Mongolia (4-star) and Zhao Jun Hotel (3-star).
Aixin (Love) Vegetarian House: at the north of Guanyin Miao Lane, Yuquan District, Hohhot
Yueshengzhai, located at No. 25 of East Chezhan Street.
Caozhong Shaomei, located at No. 99 of East Chezhan Street.
Resuli Restaurant, located at Beiguan Street.