Hantengri Muslim Gourmet, Beijing
When we told our colleagues that we were thinking of going to the night market tonight to get some Xinjiang lamb skewers from the street stalls, they retorted that it was for tourists. Instead, we were taken to this restaurant at the Xinjiang Hotel, which is run by the Xinjiang Government's office in Beijing (7 Sanlihe Road, 6833-5599, ext 8218). They told us that while it still wasn't as good as what one could get in Xinjiang itself, it was probably the best in Beijing.
Our colleagues ordered a wide array of items, ranging from that lamb leg above to that pizza-like thing below, not to mention a number of cuts of offal, and even a bone-based soup that came with little straws for one to suck the marrow out of. The skewers at the top were not grilled on the fire as long as I would have liked, but they were so fatty and tender that we kept ordering more of them, despite the fact that we had plenty of other food left. Frankly I would have been fine with basically just those skewers and maybe some of that tiger vegetable and flatbread to go with some cold beer.
Even if the other dishes weren't anything that I got too excited about, I'd still like to go to Xinjiang one of these days. Our colleagues said that there were a number of reasons why the kebabs there were better than in Beijing: not only because of the wild grass-fed lamb used, but also because they intentionally don't wash the meat so as not to lose any of the flavor provided by the blood. And perhaps most interestingly, they oftentimes grill the meat there not over wood or charcoal, but rather from dried manure extracted from the animal itself, thus giving it more of that grassy flavor. Manure skewers it is, then!