Dolan (Uyghur Muslim Chinese) Restaurant in Windsor [DTW]
Finally made it to Dolan Restaurant https://www.facebook.com/DolanRestaurant?ref=stream to sample some Muslim Chinese cuisine. Because surprisingly it isn't associated with the old, short lived Uyghur Kebab / Flying Tiger (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/842002), I figure I should start a new thread, rather than add to the one started by missmind, and built upon by Michigan Mishuganer and ak994 (thank you guys!).
Okay, I live in Troy and drove to this downtown Windsor joint (across the street from Jade) Saturday night, when there were a lot of Canadians returning from the Dream Cruise. Thus, I spent a half hour IN the tunnel, not to mention that the round trip travel cost me $20 between gas and tunnel fees, or that the exchange rate stinks---no, I still haven't come to terms with that. The bar over which Dolan had to vault, for worthwhileness, had been set very high. Still, they made it (assuming I turned off my cell phone in time to avoid $100 of int'l data roaming charges)!
This is a family run place, and they are warm and highly educated people, proud of their heritage. Bonus: they seem to be the Uyghur equivalent of "foodies." Though the dishes are subtle and maybe of simple origin ---and a cynic might even argue, grounded in familiar "Chinese" and "Middle Eastern" cuisines but just fused--- it was not difficult for me to sense that I was eating something special. If you enjoy trying ethnic cuisines, this place is a must.
Of course, I wanted the hand-pulled noodles. The proprietor's plan was to pull the noodles at the repurposed bar counter, but the state hygiene police dictated that such food preparation must be done back in the kitchen. Since the place was slow, the proprietor kindly offered to let me step back by the kitchen to watch my noodles being pulled. However, given that his adorably dressed mother had just brought me some homemade bread and home-pickled shredded veggies, all complimentary, I decided to remain seated and begin the pig-out.
Needless to say, the noodles ended up very nice, even without my supervision. They were sautéed with lamb, jus, fresh green beans, onions/garlic, sweet and hot peppers, and maybe one or two other items. Some diners may say, "Eh, so what?" All I can say is that, being a noodle freak, I was quite pleased.
Next, I had (Halal) lamb kebabs. Little tender, fatty strips, grilled medium rare. Somewhat uniquely and nicely spiced with fresh ground cumin and one or so other things I couldn't put my finger on. Served with black glutinous rice vinegar on the side. I would like to try to replicate these at home.
Finally, I indulged in the large, deep platter of (semi) spicy chicken stew. This is the dish that many customers will find to be the most interesting. The broth was a deep bright red (unlike the menu photo), laden with spice pods and seeds. Sichuan “peppercorns,” bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, something that looks almost like a giant black cardamom pod, various fresh and dried peppers, fresh ginger, scallions and whole garlic cloves, potatoes, hand-cut flat noodles (wish there had been more), and a chicken cleaver-hacked into boney pieces. This was large and delightful, although I almost felt bad leaving so much stuff on the platter (ingredients more for adding flavor rather than directly eating).
Cooking chicken stew, UPON ORDER, is almost impossible to do without slightly overcooking the white meat, because the kitchen doesn’t have all day for heating precisely at 165F. They have to fire the brew at 212F, until every meat piece has hit about 155-160F, and then hope carryover heat takes them all simultaneously just to the right internal temperature to achieve both safe AND juicy. So, I really can’t take off a half point if the meat went a degree or two too far. It was fine and, besides, the other items in the stew were the real features. If you are in a group, then this dish is a must order.
Then, another complimentary baked good was brought-- a warm biscuit flavored with charnushka seeds. Mmmm. Always included? Brief promotion? Maybe it was the end of the night and these had to go? I wouldn’t know. In any event, please don’t be offended if your meal isn’t accompanied by baked goods.
Not surprisingly, the wine/beer license still is “in process,” and supposedly is anticipated before the end of the year. After that, the next big investment may be a tandoor, so that an even broader sampling of Uygher cuisine can be offered. My next visit will be for the pilaf and for a meat pie.
Although the Uygher people are from what is now northwest China, kind of between Afghanistan and Mongolia, north of Tibet, their food is well known in the big cities across China. Hence, in our Windsor-Detroit area it may be embraced both by the many non-Cantonese Chinese who are tired of being pushed Cantonese food, as well as by local Cantonese who fondly remember Uygher restaurants they used to visit while living in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, etc.. So, I think Dolan Restaurant is going to catch on, given these many folks in Windsor who are sure to frequent this place, as well as the many foodies in Detroit who will make the drive a couple times for a little treat/adventure.