When Jennifer Chuprova and Jason Chu opened the Western Legend BBQ food truck in Eastwood in 2017, it was a suck and see moment. “I thought we’d try it for a few months, and if it didn’t work, no problem,” Chuprova says. pamphlet†
“Every Chinese man has barbecue in his blood – especially Jason, because he’s part Mongolian. The first thing they think is, “Let’s have a beer and have a barbecue.” He was excited to open a barbecue restaurant. It’s his passion.”
The food truck at Eastwood Night Market quickly became popular for its Xinjiang-style skewers, a specialty of the area of northwest China bordering Mongolia and Kazakhstan. “It’s known for beef and lamb and cumin skewers,” says Chuprova, who is from the region.
It wasn’t long before the pair had a loyal following, especially among Sydney’s Chinese international student community. “They kept asking us to open in Mascot.”
Waterloo came first, a small outfit opened during the first Covid lockdown in Sydney. When a space opened at Mascot’s new Unity by Meriton restaurant, the couple jumped at the chance.
The flagship restaurant seats 90 people, with an extensive menu. It is a far cry from the humble beginnings of the company as a barbecue skewer. The space is decorated with wooden tables and signage that rivals the Hollywood sign in LA.
There are Xinjiang favorites such as dumplings, lamb pilaf, and naan, as well as Sichuan dishes from southwestern China. The barbecue’s barramundi hotpot is big enough for four and swims with Sichuan spices, dried chilies, lotus root, and tofu. Deep fried pork is smothered in an addictive mix of chili and cumin.
However, the skewers are the stars, attracting devoted fans and rave online reviews. “We make our own chili sauce and also chili powder,” Chuprova says. “Every store is different. We have our own ingredients to make it special. It’s one of the secrets behind the great taste of our skewers.”
Start with the signature Xinjiang-style marbled beef or lamb skewers, topped with hot chili or a mix of cumin and pepper, and cooked over hot coals.
The skewered menu is nice and big and contains pork belly, chicken, octopus, tofu, vegetables, oysters, shrimp, beef fat and a good portion of offal.
You can tick off lamb testicles, tripe, and sometimes sheep whip – an offal delicacy that rhymes with prick. “The butcher doesn’t always have it,” Chuprova says.
For the perfect combination of dumplings or skewers, there’s Asahi on tap and a handful of Chinese beers, including Tsingtao and Harbin Ice, a Northern China blonde that comes in a half-litre.
Western Legend BBQ
Shop 1/256 Coward Street, Mascot
(02) 8063 8080
Daily 12:00–23:00 hrs