Succulent Roast Lamb Neighborhood Joint
Once of the biggest perks of the summer – eating al fresco in the evenings! While there are some gorgeous terraces where you can dine surrounded by trees, green shrubbery and views of hutong rooftops, one of my favorite casual nights out is just digging into a ton of chuar on the side of a hutong street (normally just sitting at a small table with plastic stools) outside a local Chinese restaurant. This is one of the “must have” China experiences during these summer months so if you haven’t done it already, add it to the top of your To-Do List. And if you break it down, it’s basically the local version of the summer BBQ experiences we have in summer!
A very popular place I like to frequent for this sort of dining experience is Beixinqiao San Tiao 北新桥三条 (a hutong that runs parallel just north of Ghost Street 簋街) where you can eat your way through an entire leg of lamb. Designed for adventurous eaters with a big appetite when it comes to consuming a whole lot of protein in one sitting, this lamb leg experience might not be for everyone especially since this requires quite a lot of hands-on work where eaters to do a lot of the slicing themselves.
Where consuming a ton of chuars on sticks might not seem satisfying enough and eating a leg of lamb might be a tad overkill, I think I might have just the “Goldilocks” balance between the two extremes of roasted meat on sticks.
Introducing Moon Lamb (蒙三羊), this is the sort of place that takes you by surprise. Rather than being a joint hidden in the hutongs, this is just down the road from the southwest corner of Hujialou Subway on the 3rd ring road. Knowing that this sort of place would be a total hit or miss, all the familiar emotions were bubbling. Will the food be really mediocre, will I regret bringing my friends here? But as with all of these cases, curiosity wins out. After all, we live in Beijing, not Nebraska.
To warn you up front – this is about to be a very positive review, but this place also has its vices. It is full of smoke inside and the Chinese customers are somewhat rough around the edges, the decor leaves a lot to be desired and it is harder to find than it should be.
But living in China, we should also recognize that we can be a masochistic bunch. Nothing is ever authentic enough, the service too lazy/uninterested/unaware/useless/etc, and often I feel like I am drawn into a negative spiral about the place that I too find frustrating at times and yet equally love in just as many.
Then occasionally there are experiences that affirm your life choices and make you glad to be here – yes, Moon Lamb is one of those!
Just remember to use Baidu maps, sit outside and you’ll avoid most of the issues I warned you about above.
Moon Lamb Restaurant:
Packed House Indoors where Smoking Ban Doesn’t Seem to Apply
One of the Perks of Summer: Al Fresco Dining outside with Roast Lamb & Beer
To our delight, all the waitstaff we met were disarmingly pleasant. The different women who served us throughout our dinner were genuinely lovely, helpful and on it. And the food was cracking.
The side dishes we had were good, but they’re really just there to complement the restaurant’s main specialty – their Inner Mongolian roast lamb ribs sold by the half kilo is fall-off-the-bone tender. While their standard rib selection is RMB 88 per half kilo, we recommend going for the “premium” for RMB 108.
LDS Snapshots of Dishes at Moon Lamb Restaurant:
Draft Beer (RMB 18) – a bit watered down but refreshing on a hot summer’s eve
Lao Hu Cai 老虎菜(RMB 15)
Cold Mushroom Appetizer 拌木耳 (RMB 18)
Lamb Potstickers 羊肉锅贴 (RMB 20)
Garlic Baby Cabbage 蒜蓉娃娃菜 (RMB 18)
Lamb Soup 羊肉汤 (RMB 18)
Specialty Roast Lamb 烤特级羊肉 (RMB 108)
This unassuming alley near Hujialou has made it onto my list of places to take visiting friends. That’s pretty much the highest praise I can give.
Moon Lamb Restaurant Contact Details:
Address: West on the street that follows the southwest corner of Hujialou Subway Station - 6 Guandongdian Beilu, Chaoyang
Tel: 138 1080 7087
Opening Hours: Daily from 10:30-Midnight