Uyghur cuisine comes from the minority Uyghur people of the Xinjiang province in China, and it typically involves a variety of meats (such as chicken, beef, and mutton) and vegetables like carrots, bell peppers, and onions, combined with rice or noodles. It’s heavily influenced by Central Asian Turkic groups like the Tajiks and Kazakhs and utilizes both Middle Eastern spices and kebabs, along with Eastern Chinese staples like pulled noodles, and mixes it all up to produce something distinctly delicious. Below you’ll find the only six Uyghur restaurants in NYC (and our picks on what you should order), but we hope to see more open up in the future.
MuslimFoodies is a popular NYC halal food blog founded in 2017 by Jiniya Azad, Sameen Choudhry, and Tahirah Baksh. It started as a way to showcase halal restaurants around New York with fully detailed reviews covering the food, price point, atmosphere, and service. Now, it has become a resource for halal-eating Muslims looking to get a bite to eat, no matter where they are in NYC.
Samsa is a puffed dough pastry filled with minced onions and beef or lamb, and it’s our favorite thing on the menu at Caravan Uyghur Cuisine in FiDi. Specifically the lamb samsa, which is the size of a baseball and filled heavily with sauteed onions and ground lamb meat. The other highlight here is the dumpling soup, which although it’s clear in color, is well-seasoned with various spices and aromatics like cumin and dill, bringing out the flavor of the meat dumplings. And if you like cumin as much as we do, you’ll love their laghman noodles. Topped with sesame seeds and sauteed with stalks of scallions, sliced onions, and tomato, this cumin-heavy dish is delicious and always leaves a little tingling sensation in our mouths every time we eat it.
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This Herald Square restaurant is run by a Uyghur couple: Ruxianguli Balati, who is the owner, and her husband, Chef Kudusi Simayi. This place is very serene and dark, which makes it a great place to escape in one of the noisiest neighborhoods in the city. But the other main reason to come here is the rice noodles, which are chewier and fluffier than the hand-pulled noodles you’ll find at other Uyghur spots, and are doused in a tangy tomato sauce and your choice of meat. We also really like their traditional lamb meat pie, which is a circular fried pie filled with minced lamb meat that’s perfect for sharing (or not). Pair any of these with one of their baked buns or lamb and cumin buns, and you’ll have a filling meal for under $20.
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Nurlan is a small spot located on busy Main Street in Flushing with some really spectacular food. The owners serve complimentary green tea as a start to the meal and it hits the spot before the food is brought out - it’s made with loose tea leaves that are fragrant with a good bitterness. The lamian (another word for lagman) stir-fried noodles with lamb are made fresh to order and have a nice chewy bite to them, and the dish itself is packed with savory juiciness from all the meat (if you like a little kick, make sure to order yours spicy). The polo - which is traditional Uyghur fried rice with lamb, carrots, and raisins - is super filling and a great thing to split along with a few tender chicken and lamb kebabs. And with kebabs, samsa, and breads at $2 each, it’s an easy place to try a lot without spending a ton of money.
You can’t come to Lagman House and not try the classic hand-pulled lamian noodles. They’re tossed in tomato sauce and sauteed vegetables before getting topped with fried beef and onions, and are exactly as delicious as they sound. The lamb manti filled with chives, beef, and dill at this Sheepshead Bay spot are also a good option for an appetizer - or you can have them as a meal alone given how massive they are. If you’re looking for something aside from rice and noodles, try the stir-fried beef - it comes on a sizzling platter with sliced bell peppers and might pop up in your dreams once you’ve tried it.
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Located in Brighton Beach, this restaurant has seriously good tsomyan. The sliced, fried rice noodles arre accompanied by tender lamb and vegetables, and the fried aspect gives it a delightful crispy crunch. The lamb rib kebabs should also be on your table: they’re soft as butter and bursting with salty lamb flavor. They use bone-in ribs and stack it onto a steel kebab skewer topped with fresh sliced white onion that provides a crisp freshness to the meat. Their Kashkar soup is also excellent - it has lamb meatballs with pulled noodles in a clear but rich broth, along with bell peppers and potatoes that make it one of the heartier dishes on the menu. Make sure to start with some manti or samsa for good measure too.
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This food stall inside the New World Mall food court in Flushing serves pretty much every Uyghur staple - from rice and noodles to samsas. But the one thing you have to get here is the aluminum foil-wrapped kebabs. The foil acts almost like a little sleeping bag, keeping all the juices, cumin, and chili flakes packed in with the meaty kebabs. Make sure to try their lamb soup too, which comes with a small lamb shank and a broth full of carrots and spinach, topped with lots of cilantro.