Simple Fare

XiaoGaZi 小尕子 @ Shanghai

Xinjiang is the only province in China I have never visited. But I have always like Xinjiang cuisine. And Beijing has some of the best – plenty of choices and variety for every budget.

Beijing, being the capital of China, has the representative offices of every province and the Xinjiang Rep office served one of the best (and the most expensive) example of the cuisine.

Then there’s XiaoGaZi 小尕子.

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Exotic

Xinjiang is an autonomous area in the North-western region of China that features green pastures, mountain air, honeydews and dates. Majority Muslims, their cuisine is heavily influenced by the Persians and Arabians in their use of spices and Halal produce due to their religious inclinations.

The main ethnic group in Xinjiang is Uyghur and therefore the main influence of Xinjiang cuisine comes from them. The Han Chinese migrants added their flavours, mainly from Sichuan in terms of peppercorns and chilli, and the cuisine started to turn a little closer to what it is today.

喀纳斯老农大盘鸡 Kanas Farmer’s “Big Plate” Chicken

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喀纳斯老农大盘鸡 Kanas Farmer’s “Big Plate” Chicken

A popular Xinjiang dish is dapanji (大盤雞, dàpánjī, دَاپًا کِ), which is literally translated as “big plate chicken.” It is a spicy hot chicken stew served on a big plate and gained popularity in the mid-to-late 1990s, and is said to have been invented in Shawan, northern Xinjiang by a migrant from Sichuan, who mixed hot chilli peppers with chicken and potatoes in an attempt to reproduce a Sichuan taste.

“Curry chicken” of the Xinjiang people, the free range chicken is cooked in a tomato spiced sauce that almost resembles our Nyonya curry without coconut cream. The additional of potato and leeks makes even more alike. And at the end of the dish, you will be given a bowl of cooked ragatelle  – yes, pasta – to mix with the sauce. Yummy.

天池孜然豆腐 Tianchi cumin tofu

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天池孜然豆腐 Tianchi cumin tofu

OK, tofu isn’t from Xinjiang but it’s method of preparation is very typical Xinjiang. Cooked in potpourri of spices, particularly cumin, it tickles the tastebuds with a fireworks of flavours. That is why the main ingredient need not be tasty, it just needs to absorb all those flavours from the spices.

新疆大巴扎羊肉串 Xinjiang bazaar lamb kebabs

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新疆大巴扎羊肉串 Xinjiang bazaar lamb kebabs

The first time I went to Shanghai in 1996, I had a lamb kebab (that is twice as long) and that was 1 Yuan, exchange was S$1 = 6 Yuan. Now, it is 15 Yuan and S$1 = 5 Yuan. Thanks to a booming Chinese economy and inflation.

However the quality of the lamb used in the kebab is better than those used in the street stores. But I find the grilling to be uneven and there was not enough spice. Also the lamb they used were too lean.

豆角茄子 string beans with eggplant

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豆角茄子 string beans with eggplant

A simple stir-fry of eggplant with string beans in a savoury sauce.

小烹菜心 Blanched choysum

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小烹菜心 Blanched choysum

There’s not Xinjiang element in this dish, just blanched vegetables with a dash of soy sauce.

西域春酸奶 Western frontier yoghurt

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西域春酸奶 Western frontier yoghurt

This handmade yoghurt is smooth and tasty, and it heavily doped with honey. Sprinkled with dried fruits and nuts of Xinjiang, it was a good and healthy end to a very hearty meal.

The location of this restaurant is perfect. Right opposite the Beijing Bookstore in Wangfujing, you cannot miss the Wangfujing Mall. A great choice if you are in the vicinity.

XiaoGaZi Xinjiang Cuisine 小尕子新疆菜(百货大楼店)
王府井大街255号百货大楼北馆6层 Beijing, China
Tel : 010-65227626

Date Visited : Jan 2016

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