after work we rode the shuttle bus into old changshou for xinjiang lamb hot pot. loren was treating, and the invite list consisted of fengya, yangyi, mr.zhuang (the photography guy i went to sandaoguai with), and a skinny document control boy. it took us a little while to find the restaurant since the bus only dropped us off on the main drag and loren didn't exactly know where it was (when he came in the past it was always by taxi). we went uphill a wide boulevard lined with restaurants and flowering trees. the air was thick with the smell of hot pot combined with sweet osmanthus. when we finally got to the restaurant, it was completely empty. at first maybe we thought they were closed, but turns out because today was a pretty hot day (temperature in the 90's), nobody eats lamb (lamb is considered a "hot" meat and only eaten during the winter).
xinjiang lamb hot pot is served in a milky lamb broth. i say lamb but it's really mutton - old sheep - which has a far more intense flavor. loren ordered 1.5 kg of lamb. the lamb was pretty good, the broth was equally delicious, rich with umami flavor. the dipping sauce consisted of a blend of powdered cumin, powdered hot pepper, salt, and probably some msg. when winter comes, this place gets so crowded you need to make a reservation otherwise you can't get a table. loren also got a plate of lamb intestines (i never had that before), lamb wontons, and 3 plates of lamb stirfry (not as good, gamey flavor lost in preparation). they gave us complimentary plates of greens (lettuce, water spinach, cucumber). yangyi got me a small bottle of guizhou white wine and one for himself. he said it wasn't as strong as last time, but it's still probably 40% alcohol. i was already buzzed after my first sip, relaxing into a hazy glow of savory lamb and raucous conversation. once again, a dinner like this makes a long week more bearable. loren had a bottle of beer and for the 3 non-drinkers a shared bottle of peanut milk.
we walked back afterwards, got as far as qian bus stop before a 104 came by and we all hopped on. i got off with fengya, tipsy enough that i almost had to grab on to her to prevent myself from falling. when i got back home i showered and did a load of laundry. tomorrow morning i return to chongqing.
June Jackson - "You're Welcome"