Once upon a time there was only one Mutton Man as my unrepentantly carnivorous colleague Josh Ozersky calls the gent who runs the Traditional Xinjiang BBQ cart on Kissena Boulevard and 41st Avenue. The big man dubbed him thus because of his juicy one-dollar lamb skewers. Nowadays the Mutton Man’s copycats are legion along Main Street in downtown Flushing. Sadly the original has been shut down by the city for excessive smoke. According to his son this sort of thing happens every few months. I fully expect that he will back in business before I know it. In the meantime, I’m happy to report a new Chinese meat on a stick vendor has come to Queens’ second Chinatown.
Not only is the cart on Broadway and Whitney Avenue one of the very few Chinese BBQ skewer hawkers in Elmhurst, it happens to be run by the son of Zhū Dà Jiě. That said there is nothing remotely Sichuan about the preparation, but it brings a smile to my face to know that the reigning queen of Sichuan cuisine in Flushing has a son who is as enterprising as she is.
The cart opens at 2 p.m. and plies its smoky wares until around 1 a.m. Lamb leads off the roster of more than a dozen of skewers. Most items hew to the traditional one buck a stick pricing scheme, but shrimp will set you back $1.50, and for some reason lamb kidney is the most expensive at $2. Best of all there are seats to relax for a few moments while gleefully gnawing at your meat on a stick.
The other night after a fried chicken dinner at Pondok Jakarta I stopped by. I wasn’t hungry but the aroma of charcoal and roasting meat coupled with the hiss of fat dripping into the fire rekindled my appetite. So I ordered a chicken heart skewer, and two sticks of lamb, all sprinkled with a reddish orange spice powder, that combines cumin and powdered chili pepper. The guy threw in a free lamb skewer making for a tasty quarter of flame-broiled meat. I’m sad the original Mutton Man has been shut down, but glad there’s replacement even closer to C+M headquarters.
Chinese BBQ Cart (aka Elmhurst Mutton Man), Broadway and Whitney Avenue, Elmhurst