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Published September 8th 2012
Even after chilli choke I still come back for more
Five years ago, had you asked me what immediately comes to mind when 'Silk Road' was mentioned, I would have said the Terracotta Warriors, silk trading route, nomadic tribes and deserts. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think it would mean Uighur food. Then I discovered Silk Road Uighur Cuisine on Port Road.
Port Road was a road I frequented often and it was impossible to miss Silk Road with its striking blue wall and its name painted haphazardly on the side. Every time I drove past, I would wonder what was behind those walls and dark looking interior.
Succumbing to curiosity, I finally decided to enter and thus my introduction to Uighur food. I immediately fell in love with the exotic flavours. Since then, I have recommended Silk Road to many and most have remarked on how delicious the food is. Many would not have dared step in unless one was looking for a new food experience. This was because the striking blue of the exterior was so unmistakable that it first gave me the shudders.
Upon entering Silk Road, it would be difficult to ignore the vibrant orange and red coloured walls. A couple of dining tables and chairs took up this room along with a counter for paying the bill. Walking further into the second dining area, the walls were adorned with traditional musical instruments. An enormous wall hanging depicting traditional Uighur dance took up a large part of the eastern wall. Eyes were instantly drawn to a crystal chandelier which hung from the centre of this room giving it a somewhat opulent feel.
On our latest visit to Silk Road for a family dinner, we were seated in this second room. We found the restaurant had recently changed hands a month ago but the menu remained the same. The menu is accompanied by photographs, which makes ordering a little easier. We ended up with Lagman (Suiru), Ganbianpidaimian, Toho Kawap and Tangjiao.
Lagman (Suiru) - Handmade Noodles with Meat and Vegetable Stir-Fry ($13.00)
The Lagman (Suiru) is a personal favourite dish of mine. It is made up of marinated lamb pieces in a tomato based sauce with copious amounts of finely chopped garlic, onions, tomato, cloud ear mushrooms and capsicum. This 'sauce' lies on a bed of handmade noodles and the lengths of these noodles appear to be never ending so prepare to slurp away. Very addictive though quite oily.
Ganbianpidaimian - HUGE serve enough to be shared between 2 -3 adults ($26.00)
The Ganbianpidaimian consists of short, hand-pressed flat noodles. It has dried chillies, lamb pieces, chives, garlic pieces and grounded Szechuan peppercorns. Best ordered mild unless you love your dishes chilly hot. Accidentally swallowing chilli from this dish can leave you in a coughing fit so I do suggest a beverage on the side for quick remedy. As you slowly bite into this dish, you may find the anaesthetic properties of Szechuan peppercorns taking over, gradually leaving your mouth and tongue faintly numb. Also quite oily but less addictive than the Lagman (Suiru).
The Tangjiao is a dumpling soup dish. Uighur dumplings are usually filled with lamb meat and in this instance, the flavorsome dumplings swam in a delicate meat broth of tomato, capsicum and finely chopped garlic. It was pleasantly enhanced with the addition of coriander and spring onions.
Toho Kawap - Uighur Style Chicken Shish Kebab ($10.00)
Toho Kawap translates to Uighur style chicken shish kebab. The chicken wing kebabs were served on the long steel rods they are skewered on. For some reason, eating kebabs straight from the rods seem to make them more delicious and fun to eat. Infused with cumin and chilli powder, these charcoal chicken wings would go really well with a nice cold beer. However, it would be hard to come by beer at Silk Road as it is a Halal restaurant.
Complimentary Tea. Bottle Drinks ($4.00), Can Drinks ($3.00), Spring Water ($2.50) and Home Made Yoghurt ($3.00) are also available
Tea was complimentary and drinking out of the small ceramic bowls provided, instead of normal teacups, was a novelty that took repeated visits to get accustomed to.
Every now and then I have a craving for the addictive flavour of Uighur food. At the beginning it was a running joke amongst friends that I must be expecting as I constantly exclaim "you know what I feel like? Uighur..."
After discovering my new love for Uighur food, I went on a quest to try the handful of restaurants in Adelaide serving Uighur food. In the end, I found Silk Road to be the best in terms of taste. I love the tangy taste of the tomatoes and the spiciness from the chillies. When their dish is spicy, they can really mean SPICY so I usually ask all the dishes to be done mild if chillies are featured. I always make sure I have a drink on the side just in case of accidental "chilli choke"
Silk Road is opened every night for dinner and only for lunch on the weekends. They are usually packed out on weekends for dinner so I would highly recommend making a reservation in advance to avoid disappointment. If you have never had Uighur food before, give it a try and like me, you may find yourself along The Silk Route.