If I could have only two dishes to live on in China, the choice would be easy and I would be a very happy man. My first choice by far would be jian bing, which is the delicious $0.30 pancake I eat almost daily for breakfast. My second choice would easily be yang rou chuan (pronounced “chuar”), which is skewers of spicy lamb roasted over charcoal and served for $0.20 each.
When I first was introduced to yang rou chuan, it was love at first bite. I still remember the moment fondly. I was visiting my friends in Harbin in 2005 on my first trip to China, and Jeff took me to the corner stand and said I had to try this. I did, and it changed my life forever. We regularly visited that man the whole week sometimes eating dozens of skewers of lamb at a time. Delicious.
Well, much to my dismay, I had a hard time finding the perfect yang rou chuan stand in Beijing. Many of the vendors will deep fry it rather than use charcoal, and I definitely don’t prefer that. But last month, we found exactly what we had been missing in an alleyway near a great neighborhood restaurant. It is literally a “hole in the wall”, but it is by far the best “chuan” in our area. And the vendor even let me operate the fan for this picture.
If you come visit, I promise to introduce you to Yang Rou Chuan. I know you’ll get along real well.