Foreign Food Focus: Mongolian
A storybook setting seemingly lifted from the steppes of Central Asia and transported to a plot of green grassland in Beijing’s north west Haidian District, 99 Yurts ‘restaurant’ is arguably one of city’s most atmospheric experiences. The space is occupied by 84 scattered yurts (free-standing Mongolian huts each housing a round dining table), surrounded by stone goats, with a series of ‘kitchens’ (or rather, roasting rooms where meat is cooked over open fire) in the middle. With nary a skyscraper in sight, it’s hard to believe that you’re still within the city limits of Beijing proper.
Not to settle on exterior looks alone, 99 Yurts has staff dressed in traditional Mongolian costume, performing regional song and dance rituals during your meal. And of course, the food is a literal slice of life from China’s northern neighbours, with hearty, spicy flavours the order of the day, every day, and particularly satisfying during Beijing’s bone-chilling winters. An extensive menu offers everything from chicken tofu stew to homemade yoghurt, but the specialty here is the lamb, as evidenced by the many variations and cuts on the menu. You can’t go wrong by going traditional, so order the whole (or half) slow spit-roasted lamb, and pair with Mongolian milk tea or sour wine. Bring your appetite!