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Jan 2, 2009 02:10 AM

Uighur Food in London?

Hello everyone,

I'm just back from New York where I was frequenting (on almost a daily basis) New York's two Uighur restaurants. One of them (a small stall in a food mall) had amazing food where a whole meal ran you about 4 dollars (and I absolutely hit it off with the owner who even offered to have his relatives act as my inviter for my Chinese visa application.)

Enough about that. I know I've asked for Uzbek and Central Asian food on here in the past and Chaikhana on Bethnal Green Rd was about all anyone could suggest, but has this changed? Are they any Uighur places in London yet? Even just a kebab cart or a kebab shop that's Uighur owned and does one or two Uighur dishes would more than suffice (the stall I was going to only had shurpa, pilau, butter tea, samsa, and kebabs but everything was amazing. I'm not looking for a huge menu. Just a few things.)


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    1. re: limster

      Thanks a lot Limster. If they've got big plate chicken then this is most probably a Uighur place. I'll get out there ASAP.

      1. re: JFores

        Don't thank me - thank Sharmila , I'm just making a referal. :)

        1. re: limster

          They definitely do have big plate chicken and then serve up thick, wide homemade noodles to dunk in the dish afterwards. Pretty much everyone was eating that when we went. The waiter said they were the only restaurant specialising in Xin Jiang food in the UK, but that's as much as I know.

          I'm feeling quite hungry now :-)

    2. btw what were the 2 ny uighur restaurants you liked so much --- do tell?

      6 Replies
      1. re: mrnyc

        Howdy, please do share the 2 ny uighur restaurants with all the NY hounds who might want some of the good stuff too by posting on the relevant NY boards. Thanks!

        1. re: mrnyc

          Wow! I just got back from Silk Road and that's all I can say! While not a properly Uighur place, they still represent the region very well. The people who own it are all one family from Eyili, Urumqi, and another town. Our waiter Ting (who was absolutely awesome and hooked us up with an Irish pub in Urumqi for this summer) was incredibly friendly and literally pointed out his family relative by relative as one made tomorrow's dumplings, another opened beers for a table, and so forth. The clientele is very mixed with no clear Chinese majority, btw. Also, the owners are all Han Chinese and the food reflects this considerably. This place is essentially a Xinjiang restaurant rather than a Uighur restaurant and the dishes reflect this.

          The two of us ordered five lamb kebabs (you have to order a minimum of 5) at 80p each, and an order of 10 shrimp and egg dumplings to start(3 quid. 2.50 for the lamb and onion, but they ran out sadly. Next time!) The kebabs were really tasty and very reasonably priced for London. While the pieces of meat weren't huge, they were flavorful, well seasoned, and an absolute bargain. Take note that each kebab will have a chunk of fat to flavor it. Usually it's a chunk of fat between each piece of meat, but it was one chunk on these. The dumplings were a nice start to the meal, but we would've preferred the lamb and onion ones.

          Our more substantial courses consisted of medium plate chicken (9 quid) and the pilo. The big plate chicken was absolutely incredible. I am actually dying to try their lamb equivalent! It was packed with pickled Sichuan chillies, spices (cassia?), peppers, potatoes, and chicken. There was probably close to a whole chicken in this dish and this was the small portion. Upon finishing off all the boneless pieces, we threw chopsticks aside and attacked the remains. My only complaint is that the potatoes were cut too large to be easily managed with chopsticks. Their size also made a of couple pieces seem a tiny tiny bit undercooked.

          The only failure of the whole meal was the pilo. This Uighur standby dish didn't reach its potential in the hands of the otherwise amazing crew at Silk Road. The rice bordered on paste and while the taste was close, the texture was so terribly off. Also, the lamb chunks could've been larger. Avoid!

          All in all we made it there in under an hour from Custom House Canning Town with no Jubilee Line service what so ever and the complete closure of the two bus routes that go there from Elephant and Castle causing us to invent an alternative route once we got off the tube there. What I'm saying is, you have no excuse not to give this place a shot if you live in Central.

          BTW, mrnyc the places are Eyili in Roosevelt Food Court and Kashkar in Brighton Beach. I've written about both a lot in the Outer Boroughs board so I shouldn't elaborate further here.

          Silk Road
          49 Camberwell Church St, Camberwell, Greater London SE5 8, GB

          1. re: JFores

            This is not far from my house - will definitely be giving it a try once I get the chance. Thanks for the fulsome report, JF.

            1. re: JFores

              Sounds excellent - thanks for reporting back.

              It was recommended highly on a thread on dimsum.co.uk where people were discussing Xinjiang food in London. They also mentioned Royal Palace on Rotherhithe Old Road, which I believe Limster has recommended on here before. Might be worth a try if you haven't already been.


              1. re: DollyDagger

                I haven't eaten at Royal Palace, only looked at the menu, which looked pretty intriguing to me. Glad that it comes recommended! There didn't seem to be that many Xinjiang dishes on the menu there though, more Shandong-ish to me. Sharmila mentioned that the Silk Road guys moved from that location ~6 months ago...maybe the old Royal Palace = Silk Road, while the present Royal Palace is just a different place?

                1. re: limster

                  I'll ask them when I go back soon. They still had a change of owners sign in the window literally until we were there (it wasn't in very good shape so it couldn't have been very new.)

          2. There is no Uyghur restaurant in London but there is one somehow look like Central Asian and Uyghur and it newly opened in the Cambrewell (South East London) near the Elephant & Castle junction. The restaurant named "Kazakh Kyrgyz Restaurant - Pasha" (by the PASHA group, the owener is probably Turkish). ... Read MoreHowever, the restaurant's main menu are all Uyghur food, like legman, polo (pilov), samsa, kawap (or kebab), liang fan..gang fan...etc.

            here the address:

            158 Camberwell Road
            London, United Kingdom, SE5 0EE
            Phone: + 44 7277 2228

            their facebook site:


            1 Reply
            1. re: Uyghur

              Thanks a lot for the heads up. I'm going to see if a Khazak friend of mine wants to tag along sometime soon.

            2. We just had an incredible follow up meal at Silk Road. This place is by far my favorite Chinese in London. The boiled lamb (12 quid) was just that. As much of a lamb as could be put onto a plate. You had to gnaw at the bones to remove every last delicious bit, but it was worth it. The entire dish (massive pile) came in a low puddle of broth with lots of cooked and uncooked onions. All in all an incredible dish. It would be really great if it came with some nan or belt noodles to mop up the seasoned broth that it was probably stewed in. The pieces can be very daunting if you want to maintain perfect Chinese table manners. The people next to us were trying to pick at it with chopsticks to no avail, this is serious hand food.

              Also great were two orders of the lamb and onion dumplings. 2.50 for 10 makes these a great value and a great way to start (and in our case end as well) your meal. They go fast and you will somehow find yourself ordering more. Pair with lamb kebabs and beer to prepare oneself for the above eating adventure (the hunt for marrow in the boiled lamb alone qualifies for the word adventure. I was ready to ask for a straw that's how much of it there was.)

              The lagman fry was similarly incredible. I think it's called something like special Xinjiang lamb noodle on the menu (6.50) but I know it from back home as lagman fry. Ya know lagman soup? Think that minus the broth and stir fried, except the noodles here are quite different. I'm pretty sure that like their belt noodles (similar to a biang biang mian from Xi'an) these are made with a buckwheat flour or some other course flour. They're very firm, very strongly flavored for noodles, and brown tinted.

              Everything for three people with one beer and tea (unlimited refills) for every came to 29 quid. With service charge. We were stuffed to the point that we had to sit around for nearly an hour before even getting up to talk with the waiter for a while about random stuff.

              25 Replies
              1. re: JFores

                damn Justin, you're gonna work your way through the whole menu before I get first visit. So troublesome getting people to come south, especially with my girl's Gourmet San worship. Just have to bundle her in a cab blindfolded, eh? Sounds well worth it...

                1. re: skut

                  yes, this place totally owns. Went with my girl, my brother and his girl. They were out of both the lamb and shrimp dumplings, so we had the beef and the pork, with a couple of skewers of lamb each. The dumplings were great, thick slippery-skinned and plump, we doused them in chilli and vinegar. The kebabs everyone liked, but I think I prefer Gourmet San's rendition, which are smokier, fattier, and I'd guess dry seasoned, rather than these, which in places were too thickly caked with paste for such delicate little pieces of lamb. Against your advice we ordered the pilaf, which came out beautifully, the grains distinct but delicately welded together, richly spiced and flavoured with stock, while the small amount of meat was welcome, as its arrival marked the half way stage and we'd already eaten a lot. We then had Xinjian fried noodles, which were awesome, excellent firm thickly round noodles fried with a thick sweet sauce of tomatoes, peppers, onions and nuggets of spiced lamb. This arrived at the same time as the magnificent Big Plate Chicken, so well described above. A plate of thick, flat noodles was dumped in the bowl to soak up the incredible liquor. This was in every way even better than Justin said. We had a beer each to start, moved on to tea when the chili in the chicken plate kicked in, and ate like kings for £15 each, not including service, which was alternately charming and excellent. I cannot do this place justice, and coincidentally my brother just called to say that it was one of the most memorable meals of his life, and it was only being so high on all the chili last night that stopped him saying so then. I totally second that emotion.

                  1. re: skut

                    Good to see you enjoyed it. Definitely one to go back to, eh? I'll be back there ASAP. Probably a little bit later this week. Hell, maybe tomorrow. I'm looking to try the kelp started that everyone seems to get.

                    1. re: JFores

                      yeah, that looked deep. Thought it would make a fine accompaniment to some of the mains as a coolant. Would recommend giving the pilo another shot though.

                      1. re: skut

                        Would you? Perhaps. When I had it, you could've practically made rice balls out of it. Total mush. Maybe it was sitting on low heat all day long before I ordered it that night? That's what I wrote it off as. I could make better myself so I sort of wrote it off. It's nothing like the polo at ei. the Eyili stall I mentioned above which is magnificent. The existence of individuals grains of rice was totally lost in Silk Road's rendition.

                        Everything else has been incredible though. I'm going to talk to them about buying a bulk amount of the lamb dumplings frozen because I'd love to have them at home.

                        1. re: JFores

                          yeah, I was sad not to try the lamb dumplings, the beef and onion were not so great as you described the lamb as being. Also had the pork with celery, which were better, if not particularly echt, as I understand Uyghurs don't eat much pig. Next time. Our pilo was certainly very different to how you described it, much more in the style of a good pilaf, though if you're adept at preparing it yourself, it's obviously an inessential order. Anyway, the place rules, though I'd definitely recommend giving Gourmet San's skewers a whirl, especially since it's relatively so much more local to you.

                          1. re: skut

                            hey dudes what's the best way to get here? it doesnt look like it's near a tube/rail station

                            1. re: t_g

                              Grab any of the multitude of buses that stop at Camberwell Green and then walk down Camberwell Church St towards Peckham. No more than 5 mins walk... Or you can get a train to Denmark Hill from London Bridge or Victoria - about a 10 minute walk there but a 20 min walk back from the sound of the portion sizes.

                            2. re: skut

                              I'm meaning to get to Gourmet San this week. God willing. I've got a lot of groceries to cook. All you need to do to get there is take either A. Any of the buses from Elephant and Castle towards Peckham and then walk down Camberwell Church St when you hit the little park thing. Alternatively, the 12 and one other bus go all the way from Elephant and Castle tube. Both are really easy. ATM's near where the first buses stop if you need (Lloyds.)

                              1. re: JFores

                                You need. Only accepting cash at the moment.

                                1. re: skut

                                  cheers guys. hopefully will make it this wkend

                  2. re: JFores

                    Is Silk Road open on Sunday? They don't seem to have a web presence...

                    1. re: j2bryson

                      Yeah. Give them a call if you need.

                      1. re: JFores

                        We've got a reservation for seven on Chinese New Year (Sun.)

                        So who was there with about 6-7 others last night?

                        1. re: JFores

                          yo Justin, do you have a number for them? Need a table for six on wednesday, me ma's coming up to town for the privilege...

                          1. re: skut


                            Ask for Tim and call a bit later in the evening.

                            1. re: JFores

                              cheers pal, and happy new year

                              1. re: skut

                                Happy New Year! Going tonight for it, actually. I'll update on here if they had any specials or what not.

                                1. re: JFores

                                  Tried a few new things this time, kelp salad amazing, as was home style cabbage. Wasn't so hot on shrimp and egg dumplings, but since we ordered every other kind too, all of which were superb, I was unfazed. Pilaf was not so good this time, more like Justin's original description, though not that bad. Special noodles were fried with celery and onion this time rather than peppers and tomatoes as last time, and were even better, pure leathery goodness. Pretty much the only major thing left to try is the boiled mutton, but I'm so in love with the broth of the big plate chicken I dunno when I'll get round to it. Seriously, everyone has got to try this place. Based on my last two meals at Gourmet San I WAY prefer Silk Road now.

                                  1. re: skut

                                    Great to hear! BTW, we tried some of the standard Chinese dishes and we were VERY impressed. Their pork with clouds ear mushrooms was incredibly good; pretty much on par with what I've had at Sichuan places serving it and with my own rendition.

                                    1. re: JFores

                                      I tried this when I went, and I was also very impressed. Good texture and very tasty. I really need to get back here (and try the Banh Mi at Cafe Bay) now my meat ban for January is over!

                                      1. re: JFores

                                        Good to know, think I'll move on to some standards next time, depending on the size of the party. So far everyone I've taken has returned, with friends, which while being testament to the excellence of the cooking is also due to the paucity of good spots for dinner in sarf. Hope due to such exponential growth I never find them empty on a wednesday evening at 8.30 again! My brother had a cigarette outside with Tim, who said their last operation was a cafe in docklands with only two tables. I guess this was the aforementioned Rotherithe spot.

                                        1. re: skut

                                          This place sounds good and but there are many other good places to have dinner in South London - it's a big place!

                                      2. re: skut

                                        The shredded kelp and the lamb with scallions are both incredibly good. I think I'll be able to get back again this week and if that's the case I'll try some new stuff.

                      2. Hey JFores, just wondered if you've seen this place yet:

                        TimeOut says: "Royal Wok’s other chef is from Xinjiang (‘New Territory’) in the very far west of the modern state of China, and so the region’s Turkic-style Uyghur dishes are also represented, exemplified by the curious sight of pitta bread with some dishes. At the table next to us, a Chinese family were tucking into lamb kebabs (yang rou chuan), and da pan ji, ‘big plate chicken’, which are also probably worth a try."

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: DollyDagger

                          Almost went here the other night, starving on the bus back from Hackney. Sign read: "Traditional and Professional Cuisines" I think which piqued my interest, though it was empty, and from the unusually knowledgeable Time Out review it seems we made the right choice staying on the 55 till the uniformly excellent Sedap. Glad to see this thread revived, dropped in on the way back from the South London Gallery last week and tried a few of the non-specifically Xinjiang dishes, like home style eggplant, home style cabbage, pork with black fungus. Incredible. Dumplings, of the steamed lamb and fried beef varieties, were superb. I sometimes think that highly effusive recommendations can be off-putting, or lead to an underwhelming experience. I would however encourage anyone tempted to reward themselves with a trip down to Camberwell on the number 12, I can't imagine any circumstance under which you'd regret it.

                          1. re: skut

                            After all the recommendations on this thread, I used a trip I had to make to London this week as an excuse to stay in Camberwell and try Silk Road out. It was a trip down memory lane for me, as I was born in Camberwell and went to school there, so I had a wander round too - my school is now being made into luxury appartments ...

                            Anyway - thanks for all the tips, I had a great meal. I'm afraid I didn't try anything different to the recommendations here, so I can't contribute more, except to say that the medium plate chicken is great (and more than enough for two people...). It had the perfect amount of heat chilli-wise for me, although he did ask me how hot I like my food, so he may have adjusted it for me. I asked for it to be medium, in the British sense, not the Sichuan sense, so it had a good punch to it, but it didn't blow my head off. I loved the belt noodles with it too. The kebabs were lovely - the lamb was so tender. I had the lamb and onion dumplings too, and the inside was delicious, but I'm not a big fan of so much dumpling - I would have liked it half the thickness - but I enjoyed them anyway, especially with some vinegar and chilli sauce.

                            Thanks again for the discovery, Sharmila.

                            By the way, if you're coming from the direction of the Elephant and Castle, any bus that goes down the Walworth Road will take you to Camberwell Green, you don't need to wait for a number 12 ...

                              1. re: Theresa

                                Finally managed to persuade my girlfriend that we needed to try Silk Road after many weeks - she was so glad I did! The medium plate chicken was seriously delicious - just the right chilli quotient and certainly enough for two. The belt noodle popped into the remaining soup towards the end was a great taste and texture sensation. The lamb kebabs are wonderful - the liberal dosing with cumin was a great contrast to the chilli heat of the chicken plate. We also tried the home style aubergine, which were a real surprise - lightly cooked in a sweetish/spicy sauce, with fresh tomato bits added towards the end of the cooking; absolutely delicious and recommended. The only less than "this is amazing" dish was the double cooked pork - which probably suffered from being less aggressively spiced than the other dishes. But the pork itself was cooked spot on. Sadly, they'd run out of dumplings, so something to look forward to on the next visit.

                                Great to see it packed (with Chinese) - it's obviously (deservedly) a bit of a destination. Certainly is for us, now. We'll be trying the kelp next visit.