Xinjiang, China’s westernmost province and largest Muslim settlement, is home to rolling deserts, rich grassland fruits like Hami melons and Turpan raisins and passionate dancing. But for many, there’s nothing more synonymous with Xinjiang than its unique and superb cuisine. Find out where the best Xinjiang food in Shanghai can be found.
This restaurant is located in the Hongkou district, close to Shanghai International Studies University (SISU). Although it’s a small restaurant operated by a Xinjiang family who moved to Shanghai several years ago, dishes are packed with big flavors that have left many addicted to their menu. Daolang’s strongest point is its unbelievably fresh meat, with a shish kebab that sets itself apart from other Xinjiang restaurants in the city. The restaurant owners strictly adhere to original Xinjiang tastes, often refusing to make adjustments or substitutions for more finicky eaters in the name of Xinjiang authenticity. For genuine Xinjiang food and tastes, this is an excellent choice. It’s also reasonably priced. And as an added bonus, the owners’ toddler son loves to come out and meet the customers.
Yeli Xiali is another great choice. The food is filling, the taste is superb, and their milk tea is among the best you’ll try. They also have special Xinjiang song and dance performances (a common feature at many Xinjiang restaurants) during your meal, some added exposure to their unique culture. The environment is also very comfortable, as though you’re being hosted in a Xinjiang home.
At Fengwei, all the servers and chefs are Uyghurs. The roasted whole lamb is beyond words. Their homemade yogurt is mouth-wateringly sour, a perfect refreshment to all the heavy spices and richness. While not as fantastically welcoming as other restaurants, the atmosphere is still lively and often entertaining. They organize live music shows every night and encourage customers to hit the dance floor.
You’ll have to make a trip for this one, but it’s worth it. The environment is good, the service is great (by Shanghai standards) and the baked lamb is sublime with a great fragrant taste you won’t forget. This restaurant also happens to have some of the lowest prices for Xinjiang food in Shanghai, so dig deep and spring for the taxi ride. Think of it as an investment in your future (dinner).
Must-try dishes: baked lamb, Chiba tofu, red bean cake, stewed beef and tomato
The baked flatbreads, or naan, are the highlight at Qia Ni. Xinjiang naan uses sesame seeds, butter, milk, vegetable oil and sugar to create a unique type of flatbread. Some local television stations in Shanghai have even reported on the superlative quality of Qia Ni’s bread, bringing a level of fame to this Hongkou district restaurant. Many people make a special trip across the city for this tasty Xinjiang treat. The restaurant is very small, and the atmosphere and service are just OK, especially compared with others. However, the prices are extremely reasonable, so it’s worth a try if you’re looking for adventure (and famous flatbread).
Dong Fang Ya Ke Xi opened its doors in 2008, and the residents of Jing’an have been grateful every day since. The ambiance and menu are unabashedly Xinjiang, with a platter of chicken that comes highly recommended. Some of the most mesmerizing dance performances are held here, so if you’re a fan of live entertainment, be sure to visit this gem.