New York’s Beijing BBQ Carts Branch Out in a Big Way


An assortment of brochettes from this innovative Chinatown barbecue cart is Dish #22 in our countdown.
Welcome to 100 Dishes to Eat Now, the tasty countdown leading up to our “Best of 2012” issue. Tune in every day (weekends, too!) for a new dish from the Fork in the Road team.

It was only five years ago that rickety metal carts with a funny round chimney on top started appearing in the streets of Flushing, two at first, then a half-dozen, selling Silk Road brochettes of lamb or chicken for the almost unbelievable price of $1 apiece. Reports at the time suggested that the carts had been imported from Beijing, where these kebabs constitute an important street food.

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From left to right: Hot dog (carefully snipped with scissors so that it almost falls into small pieces while you eat it), lamb kidney, beef tendon, green beans

These carts were a boon to Flushing, and one inevitably appeared in Manhattan Chinatown, under the Manhattan Bridge on Forsyth, and we learned to ask for “spice” in order to receive the startling cumin-and-cayenne powdered seasoning that knocked the flavor into lunar orbit.

Now these carts are in the process of multiplying, and folks from many cultural groups line up for the bargain. One has just appeared at the corner of Grand and Bowery (pictured above). The menu has vastly expanded, too, from the original two items to two dozen, including all sorts of random variety meats and vegetables, all sprinkled with the same spice mixture and carefully grilled over Argentine lump charcoal. You can even get a flatbread called a bing barbecued.

These carts would really go over big in Texas.

Featured on the side in color pictures, the new expanded menus are crazily diverse.

The older carts in Flushing have also expanded their menus to include seafood and organ meats — and all-beef hot dogs.