Lamb Skewers (yangrou chuan’r 羊肉串)
There is no shortage of grilled lamb skewers on the streets of Beijing, of various quality. Recently, a friend warned me of the rumored fake lamb skewers floating around town, so I laid off these snacks for a while. It wasn’t a huge loss, as most street stalls sell ghetto skewers high on scraps of gristle, fat, and not much meat – albeit for only RMB 1.5/20 cents per skewer.
Crescent Moon is frequently touted as one of the best Xinjiang restaurants in Beijing, and I wholeheartedly agree. The skewers at Crescent Moon are nothing like their streetside brethren. First off, it’s real lamb, and they are impressively giant meaty chunks, with one wedge of creamy fat sandwiched in the middle of the skewer. The seared drippings from the fat add extra flavor and coat the meat, and I’m not ashamed to admit I love munching on the crunchy fat. Seasoned simply with Xinjiang chuan’r spice, which is dominated by cumin and red pepper flakes, the cumin and lamb pairing are so perfectly consonant, it’s easy to see why lamb skewers are so popular around town. For RMB 6 a skewer, don’t waste your time on potential fake street skewers and just go to Crescent Moon.