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July 16, 2020
Yeah, That’s Buff: The Traditional Leghmen From Etles Uyghur
In the second instalment of our new series, we talk about a plate of hand-pulled noodles in excessive detail.
Written by

July 16th, 2020

Etles Uyghur is a family-run restaurant specialising in Uyghur cuisine from around Xinjiang in the northwest of China. It has two branches, the original in Walthamstow, which is currently open for collection and delivery (call them on 020 3620 6978), and a second branch in Childs Hill, which opened late last year.

What is it?

An £11 plate of hand-pulled leghmen noodles from Etles Uyghur in Walthamstow. It’s chewy, it’s saucy, it’s meaty, and it will be described in far better detail than just words ending in y, I promise.

How does it make you feel?

Happy and homely, sorry. But these noodles can make you revert to your youth in the best possible way. Not the Lambrini on a bench, Dappy na-na-nai-ing from your phone stage, but one before that. The stage where you eat in the crane position, back straight, head down, eyes lasered on the pile of glorious, wet carbs below. Where friends or family try to engage with you, but your only focus is downwards: at the steaming heap of sweet peppers, onions, cabbage, and strips of caramelised beef hiding between them. All on top of hand-pulled noodles. Perfectly round, soft but with bite. They’re slippery sods - one minute they’re on your plate, the next they’re in your mouth. Or, on your lap, sauce and all. You’ll wonder, what is this sauce? It’s blistering the top of your mouth and you don’t care. Sometimes gooey, sometimes drinkable. Tomato? Pepper? Unsure. All you know is that Limp Bizkit is playing in your head after a 20 year hiatus and you’re gonna keep shovellin’, shovellin’, shovellin’.

What’s the technique?

The slurp and shovel, obviously. But you may want to get professional on it and bib up beforehand. The bib is a much derided, undervalued part of eating. It’s present throughout your formative years, when clothing is irrelevant, and food tastes best absorbed through your face or thrown on the floor. But then you grow up. You develop a taste for understated, high quality fashion. You save up for months to buy a plain white, 100% Egyptian cotton, Margaret Howell polo shirt. You book dinner at Etles, an Uyghur restaurant you’ve heard great things about. “Nice tee, new?” your friend asks. “Oh, this? Just something I picked up from MH”, you say casually, heart pounding against the soft Egyptian cotton. You hear “ooh those smell delish” as you carefully fork-spoon a polite amount of hand-pulled noodles onto your plate. They’re not wrong. You smell tomato, peppers, something almost sweet. Is that the beef? You slurp a little sauce first. Peppery, but smooth, lots of ginger for sure. It’s good. Really good. “Enjoying that mate?!”. You nod, slurping, shovelling. “Mmm-isth-buff” you try to say. It’s so comforting, so moreish. “He’ll look like a Pollock by the time he leaves″. You look up to this unfamiliar voice - a friend of a friend - and stare at him. He stares back at your chest. You look down: tiny pin pricks of red and yellow-ish tones on your t-shirt. “Ah well” you say out loud, internalising the thought that it’s more a spit of rain than Pollock, prick. You arrange your napkin into a bib and bow your head again. Back to the noodles.

How buff is it?

Like a budding Love Island contestant.

Jake Missing
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