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Amazing Alternatives to Chinese Chuan’r (Skewers)

Chinese Barbecue Skewers are an expat favorite street snack, but here are some options that are just as good if not better for when you get sick of Chuan'r.

· Chinese Cuisine,Meals,Chuan
skewers in china, chinese chuan, chuan'r 串儿 sign

Chuan’r 串儿 (pronounced Chuan or Chuar) is the Xinjiang street food of the Uyghur people and other Chinese Muslims that has made its way to all parts of China. It’s Chinese Kebabs! Even the Chinese character looks like two pieces of meat skewered on a stick. That’s how you can look for it, even if you don’t read Chinese. The cheap and delicious eats are a popular snack for foreigners all over China. But if you’re tired of Chuan’r as your go to grilled meat snack, we have some alternatives to try out.

Chinese barbecue skewers lamb meat chuan chuan'r 串儿

Japanese Yakiniku (焼肉)

Japanese yakiniku 焼肉 barbecue replacement for Chinese skewers. Meat, cheese, vegetables on a grill.

Although thought to be from Korea, Yakiniku is originally Japanese Barbeque. At Yakiniku restaurants, the table will have a wood charcoal or gas grill is placed or embedded in the center of the table. Once the grill is hot enough, you place bite sized portions of meat on the griddle and cook them to your liking. Just like hot pot, you are your own chef. Some fancier Yakiniku restaurants will have a grill like the one above, where the surrounding area has melted cheese, so you can dip your cooked meats and vegetables into cheese. A lot like Japanese fondue.

Teppanyaki (铁板烧)

Teppanyaki 铁板烧 in China as a replacement for Xinjiang Skewers Chuan

Teppanyaki, similar to our last Chuan’r alternative, comes from Japan. However, unlike Yakiniku, teppanyaki is cooked on a flat metal griddle by a professional chef. The grill is propane fuelled, which makes it much quicker to heat up and easier for the chefs to manipulate as they need. Unlike the grated grill of Yakiniku, the solid flat griddle makes it easier to cook smaller objects like rice, egg and chopped vegetables. Soybean oil is typically used to cook the vegetables, rice and meats. While the style comes from Japan, 57 Degrees Hunan Teppanyaki (57 度湘), a Chinese chain, is done featuring many classic Changsha specialties. They can be found in many cities in China (also on Spoonhunt) and make a great, cheap date spot.

Robatayaki (炉端烧)

Robatayaki 炉端烧 in China as a replacement for Chinese street food skewers chuan 串

Robatayaki in Japanese literally translates to “fireside-cooking.” You can also call it Robata for short. Robatayaki is the Japanese cooking style of slow-roasting skewers over a charcoal grill. This cooking art was invented by northern Japanese fisherman, so traditional Robatayaki skewers feature seafood and vegetables. Today, Robatayaki in restaurants is similar to sushi, except it’s cooked. The skewers are prepared fresh and directly in front of customers. Typically, people are seated around an open hearth with an array of options in front of them. You simply point to whatever you want and the chef will cook it for you.

Korean BBQ

Korean BBQ replacement for Chinese skewers 串

The #4 Chuan’r Alternative on this list is Korean Barbecue. Korean BBQ has a few different forms. The most popular is known as Bulgogi, meaning “fire meat” in Korean. The meat is always sliced thin so that it melts in your mouth, and the quality of meat is super important. What sets Korean Barbecue apart from other kinds of meat grilling featured in this series is that the meats are marinated before being grilled. The sauce it’s marinated in is typically a delicious combination of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and pepper as well as other vegetables. The marination allows the meat to cook more quickly and tenderly, so it’s easier to eat with chopsticks.

Sichuan Skewer Pot (四川串串)

Sichuan Skewer Pot 四川串串

Also known as Chengdu Hot Pot, or chuanchuan 串串, Sichuan Skewer Pot is essentially an amazing fusion of spiciness between Chuan’r and Hot Pot. Instead of placing free floating meats and vegetables into the boiling pot of chili soup, you’re cooking skewered meats and vegetables. Unlike the dry roasted Chuan’r from the stands, this kind of Chuan’r is cooking in chili, not just seasoned by it. Chengdu Hot Pot is loved by the locals. Some places will even recycle and reuse the soup the meat is cooked in because the locals believe the more skewers that have been in the oil, the tastier it will be. May not be the most sanitary, but to them taste is the most important.

Chinese BBQ Bar

Chinese Barbecue Bar

Forget about Chuan’r as a street food. No more foldable tables, standing in the cold with the smokers. Chuan’r can be classy and sophisticated like any other meat eating experience. Air conditioning, booths and your own rotisserie. Roast, like Korean BBQ or Hot Pot, is a do-it-yourself dining experience where you control how awesome your food turns out. You pick your desired raw meats from the menu and you get a variety of spices to season your meat to perfection before roasting it on the fire cooker in the middle of the table.

Spoonhunt is your ultimate tool and service for finding restaurants, seeing English menus with pictures and ordering food all over China. We are dedicated to making all of China’s cuisine, from popular Western restaurants to the most local Chinese restaurants accessible to everyone. Follow us at Wechat ID: Spoonhunt or scan the QR code below to get started!

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