Yershari Whole Lamb & disappointing new location

I’ve waxed poetically before about this exceedingly popular Xinjiang restaurant, and this time around I was lucky enough to be invited to a friend’s birthday party at Yershari, and they had pre-ordered the whole roasted lamb, which taunts you from the menu when you eat in smaller groups.

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The Lamb was good — Lots of Cumin, but the kitchen hadn’t done much to prep the animal beyond slaughtering cleaning it: for instance they didn’t do anything to loosen the skin from the sub-dermal fat, making it very hard to enjoy the skin. Even my native  侉子 using companions struggled to engineer efficient eating techniques. Speaking of hard to eat, that chef there breaking down the animal didn’t try particularly hard to make eating the lamb easy. awkward joints were left connected, etc. I know the Chinese like it that way, but damn, it was a bit annoying.

All in all, the upside of the whole lamb is its efficiency — 20 people were well fed and drunk for 100rmb a pop. I don’t think you’d get that ratio of meat to person at that price ordering a la carte.

On the downside, I visited the New Yershari location last weekend, and it made me very grumpy. The menu prices are 200-300% higher than the other location, I suppose for the ‘ambiance’ of terrible paint choices, hookah smoke and an attempt at a ‘club’ on the bottom floor, which combines the worst aspects of Chinese clubs and Russian clubs. I ate there with visiting friends–with prices that high I hoped for a similar upgrade in quality–but I was disappointed. Sure, they have some dressier dishes and even some foie gras on the menu, but they also overcharge for basic items that are served at the other location: they were of the same quality, but smaller portions. The lifeblood of Xinjiang for me, Sinkiang Black Beer was 28RMB (vs 12RMB at the Nandan Lu location).

I’ll be staying at the Nandan lu location from here on out.