In celebration of the finer weather, SmBj sent Connor around town to eat fine BBQ on comically tiny chairs, as is the seasonal tradition in BJ. Here's him on choice tiny stool dining around town. Roll it up -- summer's here (basically). For his first installment on the best wings in town, click here.
Part 2: Roasted Lamb Scorpion
Where to find them: Sancun Chuar Fang
Before you think too much about what lamb scorpion really is (it's lamb spine) and its graphic, bordering on grotesque appearance, let me assure you, this dish is almost exactly the same as a nice rack of BBQ ribs. And let's face it: your summer is just not complete without having some sort of succulent BBQ ribs-like experience out there under a night sky.
But oh yes, the presentation is nothing less than epic.
I imagine this is what GWAR would put up in a celebrity Top Chef episode. (Ed's Note: R.I.P. Oderus!) When this medieval torture device arrives at the table, it is a sight to behold. It towers over you; Its spikes and adornments seem to unfurl like some sort of barbarian butterfly. It's a gruesome sight. It serves as a warning to all other sheep to stay far away.
The lamb is still braised in the same spices and herbs as its hot pot brother, but pulled out just early enough that the same tender, juicy, fall-off-the-bone goodness can stand up to a little trip into the fire. The roasting takes the flavor on an impressive tangent, highlighting more of the brighter notes (the same you would expect from a very good pulled pork), which is perfect for the summer. The oven also puts a great crust around the outside giving it a nice texture and creating something similar to the “bark” you see on smoked meats. It offers a complex yet unmuddled flavor and a surprising sweetness.
This, like everything else in summer for me, is a celebration in fire and simplicity. The correct way of attacking this is to just take a piece off the rack with your hand and go for it. If you try to have any class or correctness about yourself, you'll have a very hard time. The meat will fall easily off the bone with a little assistance from your fingers, so no need to worry about overexertion. For the initiated, the marrow is still easily accessible, this little bit of meat has been described as the “butter of the gods.” These little guys even have that same lip smacking goodness characteristic of the best ribs back in the States.
Our choice to enjoy this is Sancun Chuar Fang. The restaurant itself is a great place to be. The outside has an enormous patio that is surprisingly well lit. On display are all of the cold dishes -- cucumber, radish, maodou, peanuts -- the lot for you to pick from.
They've even got some live seafood to be grilled up, if you are feeling something a bit lighter. The scallops on the halfshell with fensi and garlic are a very solid choice.
But let's talk about beer.
Behold: here's another item too big for a landscape shot with our camera. That makes TWO in one article.
It seems they keep to the mantra of bigger is better, even with their beer. The beer comes in huge towers for only 48rmb. The towers even have a dice game built in to the base.
Most importantly, they understand the meaning of cold. Not slightly below room temperature, but properly cold, when it comes to beer. That doesn't go unnoticed on a hot, hot Beijing summer night.
Their chuar is also solid with all of the favorites and even as few less seen entries. You know, testicles and some more 'adventurous' options of the like. Meant for men trying to improve their virility, my Chinese friends swear by them. Nevertheless, the selection of more conventional chuar is robust with even a large amount of vegetarian and chicken options. I've been there with a vegetarian in the group on multiple occasions and she seems to be able to find enough to be satisfied.
Come on out and enjoy the patio. BBQ is lit and the beer is cold. What else could you want? Sancun Chuar Fang is located a 10 minute walk from the Jintailu Station, just one stop east of Hujialou on Line 6.
Sancun Chuar Fang is at Tianshuiyuan Dongli 12-2 (just south of the diabetics hospital). They're open daily from 10am 'til 3am. Phone number is 6500 1955.