Last weekend, a couple of Chowhounds and I ventured to SILK ROAD UYGHUR CUISINE in Cambridge MA (a block away and across the street from both New Deal Seafood and Loyal Nine).
If you have no idea what "Uyghur" cuisine is, you are not alone. When I first tried it a few years ago at a special dinner in Philly, there were supposedly only 2 Uyghur restaurants in the USA. So we are fortunate to have one in Cambridge!
The Uyghurs are an Muslim ethnic minority who live in Xinjiang in the Northwest of China. Imagine a fusion between Chinese, Middle Eastern and Afghani cuisines, which makes sense when you remember that the ancient Silk Road passed through Xinjiang (hence, the name of the restaurant). Here's a fun Eater video on their cooking (although Sheldon is mispronouncing Uyghur; it is correctly pronounced "wee-gur"):
For lunch, we filled up on 3 fairly large dishes between the 3 of us (interestingly, many of the menu items are not identified by their correct names, but by names that Americans are probably more likely to recognize):
NANN FILLE WITH MEAT: Uyghur-style, hand-made naan filled with lamb and onions ($18.95)...Really "nang", this was probably my favorite dish. I enjoyed the crunchy texture of the well-stuffed pastry (not really like stuffed Indian naan, but you can see the influence)
LAGHMAN: Traditional hand-pulled noodles served with stir-fried veggies and beef ($12.95)...THE classic Uyghur dish, I really liked the thick, chewy hand-pulled noodles. They substituted lamb for beef at our request
LAMB KEBAB: Marinated Uyghur-style lamb kebab ($11.95)...Actually "kawap", these are quite large skewers with tender chunks of meat and a light spice rub (cumin?). Just don't poke your friend's eye out with the giant sword they are empaled on!
All-in-all, quite tasty food that I would come back for if I was in the area.
Silk Road is a small, spartan restaurant with only ~15 seats, so get there early for lunch or there might be a bit of a wait. We got there at 11:30 AM on a Saturday and were almost the first customers, but it was full by the time we left. Service was fast, although not very communicative. It was also a bit hot in the restaurant at first, but eventually the window AC started to cool things down. Obviously, no alcoholic beverages, they serve tea and cans of soda. But no ice! Street parking isn't too hard on the weekend at lunchtime (there is also a big lot a couple of blocks behind the restaurant at Twin City Plaza where there's a Star Market).
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