Rating: 4 out of 5
Kiroran Silk Road Uygur
Shop 3, 6 Dixon Street, Haymarket 2000
For a long time, Chinese cuisine has been best known in the West for its Cantonese-style dishes. Fans would flock to their local Chinese restaurant for the sugary and cloying sweet and sour pork, lemon chicken, and beef in black bean sauce. I’m not one to judge though, since the occasional honey king prawns is a guilty pleasure!
Only in the last decade have we really seen people branching out into the cuisines of other regions in China. Punters are embracing the spicy and mouth-numbing dishes of Szechuan province, and flocking to the Taiwanese-style dessert restaurants. One of the lesser known regions, the Xinjiang Uyghur region, has a cuisine that reflects its Central Asian history. It’s big on meats, particularly lamb and mutton, tomatoes, eggplant, and la mian, which brings the Noisy Noodler to Kiroran Silk Road Uyghur.
The restaurant is a mere stone’s throw from the heart of Chinatown, and is situated up a flight of stairs above another Uyghur establishment. On my visit, it is a brightly lit and cheerful atmosphere inside, with a few large groups sharing laughs and drinks over their communal hot pot.
One of my dining companions hails from the Xinjiang Uyghur region and recommends the dapanji. It literally translates to big chicken plate, and he assures me that it’s not only the best known dish from the region, but it also has Uyghur-style hand pulled noodles. My friend also tells me that this dish is famous for its tender chicken, which is due to the addition of beer during cooking. A clear no-brainer!
The dapanji is a large sharing dish of tomato-based Uyghur-style soup with big chunks of tender, slow-cooked chicken, potato, whole dried red chillies, capsicum, celery, and coriander. Buried beneath the soup and chicken are glimpses of the white, flat noodle. They are almost rustic with their uneven length and thickness, but are beautifully chewy without feeling like hard work. The noodles go down such a treat that we order another serving of fresh noodle, kaedama-style. The soup has a lovely aroma from the coriander and chillies, sweet with a hint of vinegary sourness, and the chicken pieces are soft and readily absorb the flavours of the soup.
If you’ve not had the chance to try Uyghur cuisine, the dapanji is a good place to start. Sharing a large dish between a few people is a fun, communal way of eating, so bring a few friends too!