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Dec 3, 2009 02:53 AM

Uyghur/Xinjiang/Chinese Muslim restaurant in DC area....

I wish.

NoVa is home to the U.S.'s largest Uyghur expat community, including their national association, but there is apparently no restaurant representing them.

Which is our loss because Uyghur food destroys Afghan & Western Chinese cuisine (imho) There is apparently one small restaurant serving the Russian expat community in Queens, but that's it.

Anyone tried inspiring an expat to open shop, or tried learning to cook yourself? Want to second me about what we are missing out on?

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  1. Oh man, I wish, too! Makes me yearn for the many Xinjiang cuisines restaurants in Beijing. I have had some minor success in recreating the cumin-y dish of lamb, onions, peppers and naan at home, but it's just not the same as going out to a restaurant! Heh.

    Here is a recipe for Xinjiang spice mix on RecipeZaar, which is similar to the one I have written down and used in the lamb dish I mentioned above.

    Must remember to put lamb on my shopping list for next week...

    1 Reply
    1. re: yfunk3

      Cool. Thanks. I year or so ago I posted a query about the lamb stick spice mix in the The Beijinger magazine's online forum -- it lacked the ginger and garlic recipezaar included. I'll try this out. I tried recreating Xinjiang Pizza a while ago.. it satisfied the nostalgic hankering, but was totally pathetic. You can't get the bread right in an oven, and the meat was laughable.

      The best one I ate at, hands-down, was in Nanjing. I just hit the places around WuDaoKou/LiuDaoKou. Any place in Beijing famous?

    2. Great topic! If there is a place in the DC area, I doubt it well-represents this delicious cuisine. Some of the best dishes involve chunks of grilled lamb and cut up pieces of bread, either in a fragrant dry-fry or a peppery red sauce.

      There has been some talk in the past of O's Place in Alexandria, which has since closed down.

      Also, you could contact the place below. Allegedly, it was Muslim Chinese in it's old location in Rockville, but I believe it has changed.

      Peking Eastern House
      (301) 963-1426
      617 S Frederick Ave
      Gaithersberg, MD

      Here is a 2006 review of Peking Eastern House. Sounds like it has changed, but who knows, maybe they retain some of the dishes from their old location:

      Below is a great website that lists Halal restaurants throughout the world. You can search by country and state, but you won't find any other Chinese in this area.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Steve

        I, too, wish that the old Peking Eastern House was still around. The original place is now occupied by Pampanguena Cafe. The old place was the only Chinese Muslim place in the area that I knew of and I went there quite often. The newer place closed a couple of years ago and is now Burma Road Restaurant (also very good). When the old PEH closed and reopened (expanded) at 617 S Frederick Ave, it became non-muslim. It retained a few of the dishes from the old place, but the dishes I loved did not taste quite the same. The sesame pancake, however, transferred well. The old chef had left.

        So, no more Chinese Muslim Restaurants in the area that I know of.

        1. re: Steve

          Thanks. Yeah, the feedback on the UAA board was that there is no commercial Uyghur/Chinese Muslim food in the D.C. Area.

          Interesting and annoying side note, the "Gitmo" Uyghurs who were released to Bermuda or the Bahammas or wherever, remarked in a NYT (or WaPo?) article about how delicious their food was, and expressed their plans to open a Uyghur restaurant in their new home. They and the UAA had lobbied and prepared for them to be brought here. In other words, Congress (in its fear -mongering and grandstanding) is responsible for us not having a Chinese Muslim restaurant.

          It really is just awesome mouth-watering food. I'm not a fan of super dry, or puddle food.. but somehow Uyghur dishes pull it off. That first picture says it all.. soggy bread should be an instinctive turn off, but it is stupid good. Its preparation (the hand-made noodles, the lima bean-sized dumpling/dough balls, and the bread making) is entertaining and cut-out for inviting/fun restaurant dining. It seems like a lot of the food is prepared as stews rather than individually cooked, which seems like an ideal way to operate a smooth kitchen. Theoretically, you could have a low-staffed kitchen that prepares the dishes early and spends most of the operating hours plating and preparing the details (kabobs, noodles, bread) in view of/for the entertainment of the customers. For what its worth, the tenuous situation there, and our government's new relationship with Uyghurs would likely mean increased business for any restaurant and good P.R. for their people. I can see the outbreaks of civil unrest in Xinjiang and movement in the Uyghur detainees' cases resulting in the restaurant and owner being profiled on the D.C. evening news and in regional papers.

          I presume the lack of Uyghur culinary presence can be chalked up to the High Steppes' remoteness and political circumstances that have kept it isolated. Our loss though.

          Maybe the UAA would be interested in hosting a couple of cooking classes, if there's an audience for it.

          1. re: Russel Shank

            IIUC, those folks have a REALLY hard time getting out of the country even to study briefly elsewhere. The travel limitations imposed on the Uighur and the Tibetans are far more onerous than 'normal.' And now after the upheaval in Urumqi, fuhgeddaboudit.

            Here is a link to a great, great Muslim Restaurant in Beijing. Total hole-in-the-wall.

            1. re: Steve

              Hi all, my colleague and I from the Uyghur Human Rights Project just checked out Cafe Assorti today (, which is in between the Courthouse and Rosslyn Metro stations just outside of DC, because they have some Kazakh dishes. Overall, we'd give it a hearty thumbs up. It's not really Uyghur food, and you're not gonna find laghman noodles there, but we both really liked the samsa. The cake was really good too, but that is definitely not Uyghur. We keep trying to get our Uyghur colleagues and/or people in the community to open up a restaurant. Just no luck so far...

              1. re: Washingtonista

                Please keep us posted.

                I love Cafe Assorti. It pays to get a variety of items there and share some salads, soup, the stuffed breads, and the dumplings.

                1. re: Washingtonista

                  Yeah, definitely keep us posted. I can't think of a better city -- you'd have the corner on expats, plus this is a super international city. Seeing as how Central Asia isn't a magnet for business, the only Americans with exposure to the region are going to be government and development affiliated people -- and this area is saturated with former intelligence and development people whose careers used to revolve around the Soviet states. That, and folks with a curiosity about foreign affairs/current events, and that's basically the DC workforce.

                  1. re: Washingtonista

                    Hopefully you're still reading this thread --

                    Just curious, what reasons do your colleagues and the community members give for not opening a restaurant?

            2. Any updates to this? It seems a bit unbelievable that there's not a single Uighur restaurant in the entire DC area.

              10 Replies
              1. re: JFores

                I highly doubt there will be one here in even the next five years, but hey...who knows? Maybe some enterprising Uighur cook is looking for work and reading these boards... (ha)

                Recently took my sis to an Afghan restaurant in the area (the one on Route 1, though there is Bamian in Falls Church, as well) and she said it was pretty much the same thing without the "spice" and "variety". The meat and the naan were basically the same, but less cumin and spices overall. She seemed to enjoy it and it brought out her nostalgic side (she spent 6 months in Xinjiang). It was her first time and maybe my 6th or 7th time, and I've never had a bad meal there. Service is always great, too. One of the male waiters is also actually from Afghanistan. Not sure about the rest of the staff, but will try to remember and ask/talk up the staff more next time.

                Bamian Restaurant
                5634 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041

                1. re: yfunk3

                  Afghan on rte 1 is only ok. Maizbon in Alexandria is the best in NoVa. They do get creative.


                  1. re: Steve

                    Have you had the lunch buffet at Maizbon? I see the price has dropped a couple of bucks since they first opened. I looked it over early on and decided that there was little enough variety (nearly everything was described as "meatballs) to eat more than I could eat and spend more than I wanted to spend.

                    I had a tasty dinner there once, but there was a very noisy party going on, they had the music turned up loud enough so we couldn't talk comfortably (I went out to the car and got my ear plugs) and they refused to turn down the music. We were already seated about as far away from the party group as we could be. I'm not all that eager to go back. Not because of the food, but because with the noisy party of about ten (I think it was a bachelorette thing) they didn't treat our party of four like we were valued customers, too and wouldn't compromise on the noise level.

                    1. re: MikeR

                      No, I haven't had the lunch buffet - in general I don't go in for buffets very much. The specialties at Maizbon are $15 (regular dishes about $12/13), and that's where I look if I want to spend that much.

                      1. re: Steve

                        I normally don't go for buffets either, both because I usually eat too much and because the food isn't always the freshest or the best they can offer. But food that's mostly stews, as what I saw on Maizbon's buffet can survive for a while in the chafing dishes. A buffet can be a good opportunity to sample unfamiliar foods, too, but most of them looked and smelled pretty much the same when I checked it out.

                  2. re: yfunk3

                    Uighur lady chef in Los Angeles just opened up a Xinjiang/Uighur restaurant, so perhaps there is hope that one could open up in the DC area.

                  3. re: JFores

                    A few months ago, I bought the topic back up on the Uyghur American Association's message board. No real discussion though.

                    I imagine this is one of those things, that if some enterprising Uyghur took over/joined shop with a struggling kabob place, there would be a foothold and it'd take off. Especially in the Arlington area.

                    1. re: JFores

                      None listed on this website, which seems to be reasonably updated as it has deleted the Uighur restaurant in Montreal.


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