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Jun 17, 2008 03:22 PM

818 BBQ - Authentic Xinjiang Cumin Lamb Skewers Found!

Drove on Valley and the sign "Xinjiang Lamb Skewers" (in Chinese) caught my eye. We've been searching for those delicious Xinjiang Cumin Lamb Skewers that filled the streets of Beijing and finally we got one in LA - and it's authentic and good!!

The place seemed to open not too long ago, with 4-5 tables, and a poorly translated menu with lots of interesting Northen Chinese dishes. Not sure if any of the staff can speak English - they surely didn't look like it, but I maybe wrong. A run down of what we had:

Cold Appetizers:
The appetizers on the menu looked quite Sichuanese, so I asked for their house cold dish that was off menu. It was a mix vegetables cold dish: cabbage, cauliflower, carrots etc, steamed and served cold - it was good and excellent companion to the skewers.

Lamb Skewers - This is the real deal, meat was cut to bite size, 5 to 6 pieces per skewer, grilled to perfection, slight charred and crispy on the outside, with just the right amount of cumin and chili to give that kick.

Lamb Kidney - It's good, but if you are not a kidney fans, maybe not your kind of dish. The texture is closer to chicken heart than chicken gizzard.

Lamb Chop - excellent, our fav dish. Lamb chop into small 1 x 1 x 1/4 inch pieces, bone in, 3 to a stick, crisp on the outside and still juicy inside.

They havdan interesting menu of Tianjin snacks. I wanted "Gouba Soup", which is the house speciality, but they ran out. Got the "Bean Flower Soup" - not exactly a soup, but tofu swimming in a brown, savory, salty broth topped with spoonful of sesame paste, served lukewarm. I can't pinpoint the taste, but I liked it :salty, bold flavor and the slightly unrefined presentation really reminded me of food in Beijing.

They recommended Tianjin Buns, which was another house speciality but I was too full to try. Next time - I can't wait to go back.

818 BBQ
818 E. Valley Blvd.,
San Gabriel, CA91776
Tel: 626-307-5128
Hours: Mon-Sun 8am-10pm

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  1. is this the 818 shao kao place?

    3 Replies
    1. re: wilafur

      Yes. I think they can't decide on their English name, "818 BBQ" on one sign and some other name on another. But for all non Chinese speakers out there, if you see 818, that's the place.

      1. re: wilafur

        Yes, it's the same place that was reported on a few months ago. I think the other name on the signage is left over from the previous occupant. That's why I didn't realize there was a new restaurant there until the post below.

      2. yipppeee! hmmm, given the early morning hours, does anyone know if they serve breakfast? [be still my heart....]

        Thanks for the tip! We'll put this at the top of the list for next months "Return to SGV" food tour.............

        2 Replies
        1. re: jenn

          I didn't see any breakfast item on the menu. I maybe wrong, but in general I found northen chinese breakfast to be too dense and bland for my taste, and provides way too many calories. (think bun bigger than you fist, with no filling and very dense that you really need to bite into it...).

          1. re: keepon

            more calories than your standard english fry-up?

            I think you mean mantou and I happen to like them. As best I can tell, they are made of a very soft wheat flour and are slightly sweetened so they don't really need anything else.

            The other more northern things I know and like would include all the various congee-ish stuff like the millet version and the black rice version both of which are very tasty with pickle added.

        2. Thanks, must try this place out.

          I'm not sure if they're exactly the same as what you're talking about, but there are excellent cuminy lamb skewers at 101 Noodle House, on Valley. They're small skewers with small tidbits of lamb and visible, blackened cumin seeds on the outside. Whatever they are, they're hella tasty.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Thi N.

            They are probably the same: cumin lamb skewers in China is kind of like pizza in US, you can find that all over China and often got adopted into each region's cuisine.

            1. re: keepon

              it's NOT about the cumin lam skewers @ 818 shaokao. they weren't that good at all as far as the quality of lamb.

              they have this funky "salty tofu brain" that's really interesting (and obscure) as well as some gua bin? skin? (err. i can't remember wtf it was called). see. pix.

              the salty tofu brain is often eaten for breakfast (pix 2) along w/ some of their other oddly shaped.. "buns".