Uighur Muslim Food

Most of Shanghai's Muslim restaurants are run by Uighurs - Central Asians from Xinjiang, China's far northwest. A refreshing alternative to the seafood and sweetness of Shanghainese cuisine, Xinjiang dishes consist of lots of mutton (though chicken and fish dishes are available), peppers, potatoes, cumin and delicious nan bread. Shanghai's other main Muslim food is that of the Hui, represented by Lanzhou-style noodles.

One good reason to try a Uighur restaurant is to check out the conspicuously non-Chinese atmosphere. Recordings of swirling Central Asian lute music complement the Arabic calligraphy on the walls, and meals are washed down with bowls of Central Asian green tea (kokchai).

Try shashlyk (shish kebabs), suoman (delicious fried noodle squares) or laghman (pulled noodles). Vegetarians should ask for gush siz (without meat). To avoid a mutton overdose, try the generally excellent chon tashlick tokhor (dapanji in Chinese; fried chicken, peppers and potatoes). Fancier places sell fruity Xinjiang wines like Loulan (named after a ruined Silk Rd city).

The best Uighur restaurants are now spread throughout the city, and include the following.

Afanti Restaurant (p166) Tuck into some classic Uighur dishes at this traditional and dependable favourite.

Pamir Restaurant (ff ¡SRifctSffi; Xinjiang Fengwei Fandian; Map pp80-1; 166 Fumin Rd; a K5§166^r) Below street level, and recognisable by the shouts from Uighur kebab-meisters, the Pamir does decent kebabs, nan and more, all washed down with Xinjiang beer.

Taklamakan Restaurant (§fiSin Xinjiang Takelimagan Meishiting; Map p104; 9 Haimen

Rd; ?iin5ii9^r) An authentic but sometimes glum place with good barbecued lamb (Y22) and dapanji (Y45). It's near the Ocean Hotel.

Uighur Restaurant (¿t^ >Klt/T; Weiwu'er Canting; Map pp80-1; 1 South Shanxi Rd; RHSSSl^) Not as good as the others, though the polo (zhuafan; rice pilaf; Y15) makes up for it. There's also obligatory dancing to Radio Xinjiang's top 40 hits-sung by the staff.

Xinjiang Fengwei Restaurant (below) The friendliest waiters in town, lots of dancing, and did we mention that the food is so good you could be in Xinjiang.

upstairs). Not to worry, train buffs, there are two period railway cars outside - one purportedly belonging to the Dragon Lady, Empress Dowager Cixi, herself. Reserve.

XINJIANG FENGWEI RESTAURANT

Mapp126 Xinjiang Y

ifen- ft^F? Weiwu'er Canting @ 6468 9198; 280 Yishan Rd; ill S&280K; dishes from Y10; Sl0am-2am; ®YishanRd

A visit to the Fengwai, the best of Shanghai's many Xinjiang restaurants, is both a rewarding culinary experience and fun.

When the music and dancing get going later in the evening, you could be in Kash-gar rather than suburban Shanghai. Try the dapanji (Y40/60 for a small/large serve), a stew of chicken, pepper and potatoes, and make sure you get some yangrouchuan (Y2), lamb pieces on a skewer, and the very tasty bread, or nang. Wash it all down with some Xinjiang black beer (Y8). There's an English menu, and the waiters won't be impressed even if you do speak Mandarin. They're Uighurs, and prefer to communicate in Uighur or English.

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