In traditional Chinese medicine, sheep or goat mutton is considered
ideal eating in winter because the meat is a “warm” food that can help
prevent colds, spur the appetite, replenish nutritious energy and
This is also the season when mutton sales
peak. Packaged meat flown in from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region
quickly sells out in supermarkets, and customer numbers at butcher shops
and mutton restaurants noticeably increase. It might take a week-ahead
reservation to secure a table at the best mutton eateries.
offers a diverse range of traditional mutton dishes from around China —
from classic Beijing-style hot pot to spicy roast lamb from the
Though people typically associate mutton with northern
China, other regions have stamped their own eating preferences on ways
to serve the meat. Shanghai is no exception.
Here, there’s the
classic cold dish of sliced mutton meat jelly, which is made with stewed
mutton meat, skin and a gelatinous soup, then chilled in the fridge and
served like jelly cakes.
Eric Gao, head chef at HaiPai restaurant
at Andaz Xintiandi, said this traditional dish is best made with the
meat from white goat kids raised on Chongming Island.
choose goat leg for this dish because of the dense, tender and
non-greasy meat,” Gao explained. “Traditionally, the mutton is served
with the sweet sauce made of fermented flour, adding a boost of rich
flavors to the meat.”
Another signature mutton dish in Shanghai is
braised mutton stew. Gao uses mutton brisket for the dish because the
meat is soft and the skin is succulent.
He adds red jujube, ginseng root, green onions, ginger and other ingredients to flavor the dish.
winter I add fresh sugarcane to the stew for the sweetness,” he said.
“The sugarcane in this season is very sweet and it dispels the ‘goaty’
smell of the meat and leaves a very natural sweet taste.”
radish is also a common companion for winter mutton stews. The Chinese
have a saying: “White radish for winter, ginger for summer.”
A major contrast between mutton dishes in Shanghai and northern cuisine is the mild seasoning.
Shanghai, seasoning and spices are used to take away the odors of the
mutton meat rather than to dominate the flavors,” Gao said.
“Keeping the original flavor is always the goal.”
The white goat from Chongming Island is considered to be the best in Shanghai.
goats are small to mid-sized, with snow-white fur,” Gao explained.
“Their growth growing period is relatively short, which means the meat
is very tender. Chongming Island has an excellent environment for
The white goat hair is also used to make calligraphy brushes.
Chongming mutton is ruddy in color, tender in texture and has a minimal
“goaty” smell. The goats are born in spring and go to market in winter.
Chongming County has created a breed cultivation center in Sanxing Town to preserve the pure breed of the species.
island is a popular destination for weekend excursions. In winter, that
means visitors can combine hiking or sightseeing with dining on the
freshest white goat meat available.
Yuan Xiao, a Chongming local,
recommends the Dongjiang Lamb Restaurant for people who want an
authentic Chongming white goat meal.
This restaurant specializes in braised lamb stew and sliced boiled lamb, as well as soups and stews made goat offal.
meat is cooked very well, so it’s soft and tender,” Yuan said. “There’s
no ‘goaty’ taste at all. Just authentic Chongming flavors.”
The lamb is often cooked with other ingredients, such as Chinese cabbage, taro and green vegetables.
greens are added to the braised lamb at the end so they don’t overcook
but rather give the stew an added dimension,” he said.
Braised mutton served in large basins cost about 110 yuan (US$17.7) for a three-person serving.
less popular cuts of goat, such as the heart, liver, intestines and
other internal organs, are thoroughly rinsed and cleaned before being
simmered in a large pot to make the soup or braised with soy sauce and
chili pepper. These dishes are more popular than the regular meat with
locals, according to Yuan.
Dongjiang Lamb Restaurant 东江羊肉馆
Address: 7218 Tuancheng Road
Mutton feasts in the Jiading District and Zhenru Town
addition to Chongming Island, several places in Shanghai have carved
their reputations on serving authentic mutton dishes in winter.
Zhenru Town in the Putuo District is known for its Zhenru mutton, which is said to date back 200 years.
in Zhenru have a routine they follow when eating in a mutton
restaurants. A meal consists of one plate of mutton, a few cups of white
liquor and a bowl of mutton soup noodles.
The cooking styles in Zhenru and Chongming are quite similar. It takes several days to prepare the goat dishes.
most famous mutton restaurant in town is the Zhenru Mutton Restaurant,
which has several branches. The meat is sold for 85 yuan (US$13.7) per
500 grams, and the sliced boiled mutton is paired with either sweet
fermented flour sauce or hot sauce.
The simple mutton noodle soup is only 3 yuan per bowl and provides a light finish to a meal.
Zhenru Mutton Restaurant 真如羊肉馆
Address: 1 Siqian St
Jiading District is also known for its fine goat cuisine. Apart from
the two classic Shanghai mutton dishes, diners can also choose a whole
mutton feast or a mutton hot pot.
Issac Pan, who has been living in Shanghai for 10 years, recommended a new restaurant in Jiading called Xia Bing Yang Jiang.
The owner is said to have a farm that supplies fresh meat to his restaurant.
specialize in hot pots and grills, using local mutton,” Pan said. “The
soup base for the hot pot is a light mutton bone soup, and the flavor is
Popular dishes to be dipped in the hot pot include both hand-sliced mutton and machine-sliced mutton rolls.
house special is actually the less popular cuts, like internal organs,
goat feet and solid mutton blood, which has no ‘goaty’ taste,” he said.
Opened this autumn, this restaurant features a pleasing, rustic décor.
You can also order grilled meat and vegetables as appetizers while waiting for the hot pot.
The restaurant’s all-mutton feast serves up cuts from every part of the goat. Reservations are required.