Monday, May 10, 2010
A Xinjiang Favourite
The other day a Uyghur friend took me to a Xinjiang restaurant in the district office for Bazhou (巴州), which is in the middle of the giant region near the desert.
Located in Haidian District, near the universities, the restaurant can be hard to find as it's off a major street and down a series of alleys. However, the nearest landmark is the old Beijing TV tower or laobeijing dianshi ta (老北京电视塔), which apparently many taxi drivers know.
An impressive arch greets visitors to the compound, with two giant soldiers on horseback and Uyghur script on the left column, Chinese on the right.
The restaurant is in a building and once you enter and turn right, it's down the corridor to a home-style kind of restaurant, complete with checkered tablecloths.
This particular place is famous for its yogurt and we got a bowl each. For freshly-made yogurt, it had a wonderfully smooth texture and just a small spoonful of sugar was needed to sweeten it.
We also ordered liang pi, thick yellow noodles made from rice in a spicy chilli sauce, topped with finely sliced cucumber. This was a favourite dish and we later on ordered another.
The highlight was the dapanji, or "big plate chicken". It was a giant platter filled with chopped chicken, potatoes, dried red chillis, green peppers, garlic, and thick noodles to soak up the spicy sauce.
This dish was perfect for chilli heads, and so it was a touch too spicy for me. Nevertheless, the chicken and in particular the potatoes were fantastic, cooked just right.
Dumplings were also a must. These are giant dumplings that require more than one bite to finish. We had minced mutton with onions and spices, and the other was pumpkin, that wasn't too sweet.
As if that wasn't enough, we also ordered the lamb pilaf, featuring roasted lamb stir-fried with thinly sliced carrots and rice. It wasn't too oily which was a pleasant surprise. But by this time I was too full to eat more, having filled up with spicy chicken.
But my friend insisted on finishing with dessert and we had a small serving of walnut cake cut into four pieces that thankfully weren't too sweet.
I practically waddled out of the restaurant after we were finished the dinner, which only cost 187RMB ($27.38) for four.
Hopefully we can find this restaurant again on our own... as long as we can find the TV tower...