Freelance writer and blogger from Sydney (ex-Melbourne). Avid foodie and traveller. Loves dogs.
Published November 7th 2016
When it comes to regional Chinese cuisine, Cantonese food will always be my top pick due to the fact that I've grown up with it. Sometimes, however, I feel like something with a bit more heat and down-to-earth. Such as the night my friends and I decided to check out Bugda Uyghur in Glen Waverley. While Budga Uyghur isn't new by any means, it wasn't around when I was a teenager growing up in the area so I was excited to try something a bit different.
Uyghur cuisine refers to the cuisine of the Turkic ethnic group in China's Xinjiang region. Due to the predominantly Muslim population of this group, you won't find pork on the menu but expect to find lots of lamb as well as lots of cumin and chilli. If you love your food spicy, you'll definitely love Uyghur food!
One does not go to an Uyghur restaurant without ordering some sort of meat on skewer – so we ordered a handful of marinated lamb shish kebabs. The meat was juicy, with the balanced combination of chilli, cumin and the remnants of smoke from the charcoal grill making this thing the best $2 you'll probably spend this month.
We then enjoyed a serving of barangga laghman, handmade noodles with stir-fried shredded potatoes and lamb. While noodles in Cantonese dishes tend to be more refined, these ones were heartier and thus would probably be more effective if you happen to be carb loading or struggling to fit in some macros for the day. I probably would have been okay without all the shredded potatoes on top, though Cathy loved them for the added crunch they brought to the dish.
If you're still short of macros after those noodles, then the Anjan polu (pilaf rice) would definitely do it for you. I'd say that most of the dishes on an Uyghur restaurant menu are cooked with some sort of cumin/oil/chilli/lamb combination so if you want a dish that's milder, this would be it. Yes, there's braised lamb and yes, there's perhaps a little bit of heat – but it's pretty tame… and insanely delicious. I also liked the way the currants added a lovely dimension of sweetness to the dish.
I find it hard to go to any sort of Chinese restaurants without ordering a plate of dumplings. Thus, some steamed lamb dumplings were ordered – no pork because Uyghurs are predominantly Muslim so you'll hardly ever see pork on the menu at an Uyghur restaurant. Hearty and generously sized, the dumplings were tasty though I think my preference for dumplings is still pork. This is because the other lamb dishes we ordered were seasoned with a lot of flavours, thus masking that distinctive lamb smell that many people find unpleasant including myself sometimes. With these dumplings though, there was nothing to mask the smell which somewhat affected my enjoyment of them.
Bugda Uyghur is definitely a most welcome addition to the Glen Waverley dining scene; I can see myself returning if I'm in the area and am craving some succulent lamb skewers or handmade Uyghur-style noodles (though I'd probably order ones without potatoes on them).