Leather jackets, beat-up Adidas, a communal guitar. It’s worth lingering over dinner to spot all three – the latter brought out from behind the counter, the others worn by almost everyone that enters after 10pm. Prior to that, every last customer is white. But, once they’ve gone, leaving behind just their empty black beer bottles and the cheerful employees, the fun really starts. Kashgar ballads, a passed-around iPod, much slurping. The kitchen staff limit themselves to noodles, having proved their point.
Their lamb leg, thick with fat and crispy golden skin, is superb. So too the fragrant lamb steaks, smaller cuts of meat on the bone, to be dipped in a rich, cardamom-based sauce. Indeed, you could stick solely to lamb derivatives here, and not want for more. Roll the minced mutton and carrot in the thin pancakes provided, watch it all but fall apart as you move it toward your mouth, and see if you don’t just order another round. The alternatives, meanwhile, are more than good enough for you to forget the fact that you just ate a whole sheep. Uighur salad (Greek, minus the feta) raises your veg count, and you can make up the missing salt with sesame-seeded, doughy Xinjiang flapjacks.
The white folk are drawn by the grotto-fabulous feel – carpets on the walls, dimmer lighting than your average all-night la mian joint - and that black beer. The late-night crowd are here for something more. Music, laughter, and small glass bottles of tart pomegranate juice, for just ¥8.