The Best Uyghur Restaurants In LondonThere aren’t a great deal of Uyghur restaurants in London, but the ones below are delicious examples of a distinctive cuisine.
Uyghur cuisine comes from Xinjiang in the north west of China. And given that Uyghur people are a predominantly Turkic Muslim group, the food mixes Middle Eastern spicing and techniques, like cumin-rich kebabs, with Chinese staples like hand-pulled noodles and dumplings. There aren’t a great deal of Uyghur restaurants in London, but the ones below are delicious examples of a distinctive cuisine.
Karamay Uyghur is hidden among shiny offices and grab-and-go lunch spots in the City. Its original branch in Leicester claims to be the first Uyghur restaurant in the UK. Whether or not that’s true, we can’t verify, but its food certainly stands up in the fiery, flavour rankings. Given its location, the space feels a little slick—its big windows look out on to more ancient bodies of the City as suits search for sustenance, and the unapologetically green chilli-filled Chinese murger comes on a chopping board. But the handmade noodles have just the right amount of bounce and given the big round tables and light-filled room, we can think of few better places for a big Friday lunch around Fenchurch Street.
Etles Uyghur is London’s premier Uyghur restaurant. The family-run spot’s original Walthamstow location (there’s also one on Finchley Road) is the place to go for heaving portions of big plate chicken and hand-pulled leghmen noodles. As far as glorious piles of wet carbs go, these are up there. There’s a lot to love from the menu—tugur dumplings and nourishing bowls of chochure soup are essential—so to get the best of Etles you want to be with at least one other person. Especially because everything about this restaurant, from the traditional tablecloths to the warm service, is as homely as it gets.
The O2 Centre is one of north London’s great, gleaming eyesores but wander up the relentlessly grey Finchley Road and you’ll find one of London’s best north western Chinese specialists. Stag City is deceptively big—full of comfy banquettes for twos, fours, or more. Come here safe in the knowledge that this homely space can fit serious numbers. The menu extends to favourites like kung pao chicken and mapo tofu, but it’s the Xinjiang dishes you should concentrate on. The ding ding noodles (hand-pulled noodles that start out whole before being chopped into bouncy little chunks) are deliciously stir-fried in an umami-ish tomato sauce with lamb and vegetables, and the big plate chicken is suitably elastic and filling.
Some roads in London have a life of their own. A schedule and a bustle that’s unique to that stretch and that stretch alone, and Blackstock Road is very much one of them. At any hour of any day there’s something going in this bit of N4 and in Dilara, it has one of London’s finest and most discreet Uyghur restaurants. Big groups post-Arsenal or otherwise regularly descend on this deceptively large space for their fill of slippery legmen noodles, cumin-rubbed lamb skewers, and warming big plate chicken. Don’t be fooled by what you can see from the street—this isn’t a takeaway and is very much a restaurant. One that’s as good for comforting meals as it is for celebratory get-togethers.
A warm, comforting meat and onion pastry for chilly winter days, a cold, refreshing noodle salad for the warmer ones, and steamed lamb dumplings for all the times in between. Turpan is perfect for anytime you need a homely meal in central. A small Uyghur spot on Great Russell Street, it’s the kind of casual place you pop into after work with a group of friends to split a big plate chicken (which by the way is big), or on your own to inhale a plate of thick leghmen noodles while scrolling through Twitter. It matters less how you use this restaurant and more that you finish with the nutty honey cake and tea when you do.
If your stomach is ever rumbling walking down Theobald’s Road in Holborn then you should pat it in knowing appreciation. It’s an excellent stretch of London to find some food. Fish and chips, beef rendang, and big plate chicken are all within a stone's throw of each. Tarim is where you’ll find the last of these. The Uyghur restaurant is from the same people as Dilara in Finsbury Park and although this spot isn’t quite as homely—you’re more likely to come here for a quick weekday dinner or solo meal—it’s still a good choice for some noodles or cumin lamb skewers. Just remember to ask for everything spicy. Not the polite kind of spicy either.