Cabbage, beef, potato, tendon and tripe ready to be put in the hotpot
A few days ago I was in Guangzhou for work and on our final day there, my colleague and I finished our work early and had lunch in a popular hot pot place called Shantou Bahelihaiji beef shop.
It apparently specializes in serving fresh beef from cows that have been culled only four hours earlier. I find that a bit hard to believe as it takes time for blood to be drained from the carcass, and how can fresh beef be distributed that quickly around to the various branches in Guangdong within that time frame?
Nevertheless we had to wait for about half an hour with a ticket in hand, so it must be pretty good. We were hungry watching diners walk in and getting their fill.
Our number was finally called and our table was on the second floor in a cramped space. But we were here! The menu is focused on all kinds of beef from various parts of the cow, to beef meatballs, tendon, tongue, brisket and so on.
To balance it out we also got some turnip, potato and cabbage. Strangely there was no tofu on the menu. A few steps away was a sauce station for diners to create their own sauce to dip the cooked food in. There was the usual array of fresh chilli peppers, minced garlic, coriander, spring onions, oil and soy sauce, but no sesame oil which seemed a bit strange.
The hotpot with clear broth was placed in an induction burner and it took a while to heat up, but finally when it was boiling we were in business. The beef balls were very bouncy -- unlike the frozen ones I've eaten so many times, making freshness the defining factor.
The menu also suggests how long each item should be cooked for, ranging from seconds to minutes. We followed the directions which made sure the meat was cooked just so, resulting in a very tender texture. My colleague was in meat heaven.
While the beef tendon looked shriveled up and dry, once they were cooked, they were fantastic, chewy and flavourful. Another was tripe that was cooked within 10 seconds and was very crunchy. What looked like an endless number of meat dishes, turned out to be just right, along with our vegetable dishes.
Did I mention my colleague mistakenly ordered a giant 1.5 litre bottle of juice, so I had to help him finish it -- well most of it. In the end the bill for our hotpot meal was 270 yuan for two!