Just returned from a place my Lovely Taiwanese Tasting Assistant (LTTA) spotted on Olympic the other night, which I originally mentioned in this post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/577283
For those in the know, Beijing lamb skewers are luscious bits of meat grilled over charcoal, and dusted with a mixture of cumin and chili powder. The things are addictive and outrageously good when consumed with beer, preferably Tsingtao delivered in a keg fresh from the brewery the same day. (Of course in LA, the bottle will have to do).
The three big Chinese characters atop the building were unmistakable... had we simply not noticed it before? No matter... we noticed it now: Yang Rou Chuan (literally lamb meat stick.... 羊肉串... the first character is supposed to look like a lamb with horns, the second is supposed to look like the ribs of an animal carcass, and the third is a pictograph of a shish kebab).
Tonight we decided to head out there and give it a shot, and WOW.... our socks were knocked off... for several reasons, which I will list below:
It's Koreatown meets Chinese lamb kebabs.... which means TABLETOP BBQ!
Yang rou chuan Korean BBQ-- what a great concept!
And best of all... they use DEEP, RICH, HEAVENLY lump charcoal! This is not the pseudo charcoal experience of Tahoe Galbi. This is the funky, smoke-in-your-clothes Soot Bull Jeep charcoal experience.
And not only can you grill your skewers to your own preferred level of doneness, but you can season them as you wish! Along with panchan (panchan!), each person is presented with a little tray of cumin/chile/sesame seed powder. The barbecue contraption is basic, but designed specifically to accommodate skewers, with a high level "resting bar" to rest your skewers on when they don't need to be cooked anymore.
At $12.99 for 10 lamb skewers, it wasn't exactly cheap (particularly in comparison to the $0.20 skewers we ate at hutongs in Beijing), but the meat was succulent, with a good meat:fat ratio, and certainly more generous than the $1.00 kebabs at 818 in the SGV.
Each table is presented with a basket of shallots and garlic. We thought it was strictly for decoration until we realized their function..... you can skewer and grill them up! Brilliant!
Item #14 on the front page, scrawled in pen and untranslated into english, is... goat penis! (Best of all, you can try your own goat penis for just $1.50 or $2.00, depending on what price your particular menu indicates.)
The rest of the non-bbq menu seems to be a hodgepodge of Korean/Northern Chinese (the owner is from Jilin, near Haerbin in the north of China, near the North Korean border.) But frankly, we were so excited by the yang rou chuan that we just dove into that. (They do have beef and chicken skewers, as well some of the more unfortunately named items such as "Mutton Chunk Heart")
The restaurant has only been open for a month, and I highly recommend that all Chowhounds give this place a try. We need to keep lamb skewers this good on this side of downtown.
Mr Taster's Recipe for a Great Evening Out:
Get a few friends together.
Order several plates of yang rou chuan
Get a couple of Tsingtao beers
Let the good times roll.
Feng Mao Mutton Kebab
3901 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90019
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