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Two weeks ago Küsan Uyghur Cuisine had its soft opening. My brother and I tried it for lunch yesterday.
I was delayed by traffic and was going to miss the 3pm end of lunch service. So my brother had to take charge of ordering from the short opening menu. He asked for feedback on his choices. He said the restaurant was pretty busy and the staff were not concerned about my late arrival.
Eggplant with mashed garlic appetizer, $7: The eggplant was cooked beautifully, separating into velvety lengths but not turning to mush. The assertive seasoning oil carried a fiery punch and bite of fresh garlic. However, it did not permeate the eggplant, rather standing apart from the main element.
Lamb kebab, $3 apiece x 2: Juicy boneless lamb strung on skewers released a captivating aroma of garlic-cumin-chile smoke, but did not strike the palate with the same boldness. Then the subtlety of the seasoning kind of grew on me, in marked contrast to the usually heavier hand with the spice box.
Lamb polo with yogurt, $14: I arrived right after this dish hit the table. William had already helped himself to the one of the two hard-cooked quail eggs on top as garnish. The rice itself was so beautiful, a medium-grain pearly type with separate grains that were firm and chewy, infused with so much flavor. The chopped lamb on top was plain and unseasoned, and on the tough side. The added meat was pretty much superfluous. The rice was better enjoyed with the mild housemade yogurt or some of the gravy from the other dishes.
Big plate chicken, regular size, $16 (also available in large size): Our favorite dish of the meal. Spice-forward from two kinds of chiles, fresh jalapeño slices and dried red chile pods layered on the heat. Fragrant with exotic spices, the chicken braised on the bone was succulent and smooth-textured absorbing all the great Silk Road flavors. The light juices soaked into the chewy, extra long, frilly-edged wide hand-stretched noodles.
Braised lamb shank with naan, $16: This looked too tidy and intact at first, and I wondered if the lamb shank was cooked long enough. Indeed the meat was firmly attached to the bone requiring the knife provided. Yet, the mouthfeel was so smooth and silky and tender to the bite. Garnished with some long-cooked onion, cilantro and Korean chile pepper threads, no particular seasoning stood out. This was direct and unadulterated lambiness, pure and simple. The gravy was like lamb demiglace, intense and concentrated, and a bit too salty. If there&amp;amp;#39;d been a chile condiment on the table, I might have reached for it to provide some contrast. But I really can&amp;amp;#39;t fault this dish.
The chef here has a light and exacting touch, delivering textures that are on point and a well-judged seasoning spectrum. The only information volunteered by the staff is that he came from a &amp;amp;quot;big restaurant&amp;amp;quot;.
This venue used to be a ramen restaurant, and the existing decor is more modern than the other Uyghur restaurants i&amp;amp;#39;ve tried. The cooking style also feels more contemporary and a step above homecoming as well. The current menu has only a few dishes and we tried nearly all of them. It will expand in the days to come.
The amount of food we ordered could have fed another person easily and we had leftovers to take home.
Service was very genial, and the staff were fluent in English. Küsan Uyghur Cuisine is off to a good start.
Küsan Uyghur Cuisine
1516 N 4th Street
San Jose, CA 95112
Open daily for lunch and dinner