11 (Wed) August 2010
at Gyeongseong Yang Ggochi
-Yeoksam, Gangnam, Seoul, Korea-
A curious phenomenon, Chinese lamb skewer joints have been popping up all over Seoul in recent years. It’s pretty much the same set-up everywhere: small bits of lamb rubbed in a spice mix, grilled over charcoal on stainless steel skewers, served with typical Korean-Chinese sides, and often rounded off with steamed dumplings or other simple Korean-Chinese dishes. Considering the composition of the spice mix, a cumin-based recipe with anise seeds and other components commonly associated with Central Asian or the Middle Eastern fare, and the use of lamb, not the most prevalent meat in Cantonese, Mandarin or other mainstream Chinese styles, I suspect that the basic idea comes from the northwestern Xinjiang region of China, which borders India, Pakistan, Kirgizstan, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia, where such spices and lamb are quite popular. At around KRW 8,000-10,000 per serving, which appears to be about 150 g (approx USD 6-8 for 5 oz), it’s not exactly cheap. And whether it’s the cut or quality of the meat, I haven’t been overly impressed at any of these places by the lamb itself, which is probably my favorite when done right.