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Apr 3, 2012 06:02 PM

A Good Uyghur Restaurant?

Aloha D.C. Hounds,

I'll be in D.C. for the 4th of July with my wife and 3 little ones and was wondering if there might be a good Uyghur restaurant somewhere in the DC area. If not Uyghur, then a Turkish rec would also be welcomed.

Thank you kindly,

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  1. The list of Uyghur restaurants in the US is a very slim list. Unless you have special info, I imagine you could count them on one hand. DC area does not have one.

    My favorite Turkish restaurant is Kazan in McLean, VA. Still, if you are looking to recreate the experience of visiting Turkey, I am not convinced it is a destination restaurant.

    Zaytinya in DC has a broad menu with some seriously good food. In principle, it is innovative Turkish, Greek, and Lebanese cuisines. You should check out the menu.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      Thank you, Steve. Are you the same Steve that responded to me about exotic food the last time I was headed to DC, back in 08 or 09? I bet you are.

      1. re: szfoster

        I just found your other response:

        Llajtaymanta, a Bolivian restaurant in Falls Church, VA prepares some of the most exotic meals around. Please follow the following link for more description.

        But I would have to say that Myanmar prepares exotic food and is one of the best kitchens in the DC area as well.

        You could have quite a feast there to include:
        Ginger Salad, gram fritter salad, shrimp and bean sprout salad, goat curry, pork with fresh mango, tomato tofu, and whole roasted fish. Make sure to get the condiment Ngapi (this is a menu item, not sure how it is listed, about $5) which has the dried toasted shrimp in it to sprinkle over your food.

        If you want to go African, then I would go for the Manioc (cassava leaf stew) at Chez Auntie Libe. Add to that orders of Yassa Chicken, Lamb Tibs, Maffe (a VERY rich peanut stew) and whole fish, and you've got yourself an extraordinary feast.

        1. re: szfoster

          That was July 12th, 2008.

          Anyway, Zaytinya sounds good. Normally, I am 'stuck' on Oahu most of the time, so when I head for the mainland, or China, or Europe, I am normally on the hunt for yummy experiences. I lived in Turkey when I was 16 and wife is a Uyghur. Dad is coming up from Houston to DC to spend 4th of July with us, so I am looking for my normal wild, eclectic and surreally tasty bits.

          1. re: szfoster

            Yes, that sounds like me. I would think that Myanmar, Chez Aunty Libe, Oohhs and Aahhs, Pimento Grill (Jamacian hole-in-the-wall), and Bangkok Golden (Lao Menu) would provide some of the most out-of-the-way and exotic experiences you could hope for.

      2. I like the Cafe Divan for Turkish food.

        Zaytinia is very good as well. I second that rec.

        1. It's not Uyghur, nor is it Turkish, but since I moved away from DC, the one dish that haunts me is the kebabs at Moby Dick House of Kabob.

          I recommend it to anyone visiting the capital or surrounding areas. I think they have a shop in nearly every suburb now.

          Perhaps the DC hounds can comment on whether it's as good as it used to be.

          1. There was one other thread about Uyghur places in the DC area. In Peter Hessler's Oracle Bones, there is a Uyhgur person he encounters first in China and later that guy moved to DC, working in an Asian place downtown. It might be bedroom, but I bet there's something around.

            14 Replies
            1. re: Dennis S

              Before DC, we will be in New York for a week. I don't think they have a 100% authentic Uyghur restaurant either. My wife is from Urumqi and whips up killer laghman, da pan ji, shorpa, manta, samsa, etc., so I get to eat it all the heavenly time, but with my Texan Dad and Shanghaiese stepmom coming up from Houston, I thought we might find some Uyghur food in DC.

              However, Steve, seems to be right-- the list of Uyghur restaurants in the U.S. is very short. Perhaps I should leave my prop casualty insurance career and j.v. with a Uyghur restauranteur from Urumqi and open up bomb Uyghur restaurants all over America....Anyone with deep pockets want to invest? Hit me up. Los Angeles. Houston. New York.

              1. re: szfoster

                Actually, according to the Times (ca. 2006), there are at least two Uighur restaurants in NYC. The one they identify in their 2006 article is Cafe Kashkar in Brigton Beach.

                1. re: lawhound

                  I think they may be Uyghurs from Uzbekistan. I went to Kashgar for my honeymoon so perhaps I am a bit too sensitive, but it rubs me a little bit the wrong way for Uyghurs from Uzbekistan to open a Cafe Kashkar.

                  1. re: szfoster

                    OK. I made a dinner reservation at Zaytinya for 11 on July 6th at 5:30 p.m., 6 adults and 5 kids! They have a mezzanine, and I told the nice lady on the phone she better separate our table from the boring patrons. The location is perfect also as Dad as staying at Monaco Hotel that looks very close and we are staying in a serviced apt on Mass Ave which is also close, so I am pleased as truffled peas....Thank you everyone, especially my old friend Steve. I will report back.

                  1. re: szfoster

                    So what do they eat there? laghman, da pan ji, shorpa, manta, samsa, and the ubiquitous "etc." are all unfamiliar to me. Are these similar to dishes that might be more familiar? I'm just curious as to whether I'd be curious about such a restaurant.

                    1. re: MikeR

                      Hello Mike,

                      There are around 15 million Uyghur people living mostly in what is now far western China. The province where they live is called the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Like Tibetans, if you ask an Uyghur if he or she is Chinese, their answer will be "No". Lamb plays the central role in their food, so lamb dumplings can be boiled, steamed or baked. Polo is another staple where the lamb is stir fried in oil, then taken out, and finely sliced carrots are fried in the same oil, add rice, some spices, and lamb on top of the rice/carrot mix, add water and steam the whole thing. Uyghurs eat polo with their right hand. Uyghurs dance and kiss, culturally quite different from Han Chinese. If you want to know more about one Uyghur in particular, go to youtube and enter "Butterfly Voyage" - it's a short documentary about my wife.

                      1. re: MikeR

                        I ate at a Xinjiang Muslim Restaurant in Beijing. I had lamb and bread dry-fried, lamb and bread in a red pepper sauce, and tiny, tiny skewers of lamb and chicken wings. Also a salad with cucumber. I had never before seen such tiny pieces of meat on a skewer, but the crunch and spice was fantastic.

                        I'll let szfoster figure out if this was truly a Uyghur restaurant. The food was a knock out.

                        1. re: Steve

                          There are lots of great Uyghur restaurants all over China. The original Uyghur restaurant in Beijing that attracted expats to Uyghur food throughout the 90s was Afanti where people ate great food and ended up dancing on the tables (unheard of in Chinese restaurants). Steve's meal sound 100% authentic to me. Uyghurs eat kabobs small, medium and large, over coal or wood or mixture of coal and wood. Chinese will cook kabobs in little electric ovens that can also be tasty, but this method would not be acceptable in Uyghurland...

                          1. re: szfoster

                            I don't know if you found this thread on the New York boards:


                            Cafe Kashkar seems to be the main recommendation, but if you resurrect the thread maybe you'll find that something new has opened.

                            I studied in Beijing in 1993 and greatly enjoyed Uighur food in what we foreign students called Uighurville. From what I understand it's not there anymore.

                            1. re: dracisk

                              Sounds like we were both on the same streets of Beijing the same year. Where were you studying? I was at Beijing Waiguo Yu Shifan Xue Yuan, a couple short blocks south of Xinjiang Jie (Uighurville). My name is John Foster.

                              1. re: szfoster

                                Funny! I was at Shoudou Shifan Daxue (Capital Normal University). If I remember correctly we were a short bike ride from Uighurville. My program was run by Duke University. My name is Kim Sicard (Chinese name: Si Jin Li). Somehow I didn't meet very many foreign students outside of my program. We were in Beijing in June, July, and August and then went to Nanjing for 3 months.

                                Do you know if Uighurville is gone now? I haven't been back to China since my study program ended in 1993. :-(

                                1. re: dracisk

                                  Hello Kim,

                                  My school was subsequently acquired by by Capital Normal University and became Capital Normal Shifan Waiguo Yu Xue Yuan (a long mouthful), though in early 93, my school did not have the "Shoudu as part of the name, though I am still wondering if perhaps we were at the same place.

                                  I am trying to remember, and it does seem to me that there were some Duke students studying there. My Chinese name is Chen Zhong. At the campus where I lived, there were foreign students living in two different areas. I lived in the 'Si He Yuan' (i.e. courtyard) and had a Chinese roommate. Most of the foreign students lived in a Gui Bin Lou that was probably 4-5 stories and you had to climb the stairs. CET (China Educational Tours) ran the foreign study program. There was an older woman named Betty who lived in the taller building. There were also some French kids who lived in the Si He Yuan.

                                  If you arrived in June, I was just leaving. I was there from late 92 through June 93. There were a couple restaurants just off the main road which was Fu Cheng Men Wai. This area was also called Gan Jia Kou or Bai Duizi.

                                  I visited with my wife in about 2005 and Uigurville was already totally gone, nothing remained. The school itself was still there, but due to be demolished. I checked Google Earth a couple years ago, and the school is gone too.

                                  That China where we used to live exists primarily in our memory. The egg McMaos and the jiazhou niu rou mians are gone. The guy cleaning your ear for a couple kuai is gone.

                                  Alas, time moves on.

                                  My wife is a Uyghur from Urumqi. She cooks food just like what we used to eat on Xinjiang Jie back in 93, only yummier.

                                  After my study program ended in 93, I went back to Middlebury, VT to finish my senior year. I graduated in 94 and went straight to Hong Kong where I lived, worked and traveled throughout China till 02 when I decided to move to Hawaii.

                                  I bet you hung out at the Black Cat in Nanjing.

                                  I am very good friends with Shannon Wong, a born in America Chinese girl from Greenville, SC who went to Duke and would have graduated in 94. She studied Chinese at Duke.

                                  Thanks for the trip down memory lane. If you are ever headed to Hawaii, my email is I am a fountain of information, so feel free to drop me a line.

                                  1. re: szfoster

                                    I'll keep this short so as not to further intrude on what's supposed to be a food board with our personal reminiscences.

                                    I graduated from Wesleyan in 1995 even though Duke was the main school associated with my China program. There was needless to say a bunch of Duke students in my program but not Shannon Wong -- she may have been in the previous year's program.

                                    Yes, we loved the Black Cat -- they had cheese!

                                    Thanks for the offer about Hawaii. I've never been there but would love to go some day. When I do visit I may invite myself over for some of your wife's elusive and surely delicious Uighur food. (Just kidding.) The same goes for me and DC. I think you're pretty well covered on this board for food advice, but if you ever want other DC-related advice please let me know -- I've lived here since 1998, which is pretty long by DC standards. My e-mail address is

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