Simple Fare

Tamarix 红柳花 @ Shenzhen

Salt cedar branches have been used to make a classic Xinjiang dish – 红柳羊肉串 lamb kebabs. And when a restaurant is named after the native shrub of Xinjiang, I have got to try it.

Salt Cedar (Tamarix)

Salt cedar or Tamarix (or more commonly called in China as Rose Willow) is a native plant species in Xinjiang. For some reason, it became an invasive flora in US. The plant looked like a burning bush, and sometimes I wonder if that’s the burning bush in Book of Exodus!

Xinjiang Cuisine

Majority Muslims, Xinjiang cuisine is heavily influenced by the Arabian in terms of the use of spices and Halal due to their religious inclinations. Lamb dishes dominate the menu, including Xinjiang-style classics such as grilled lamb rack, lamb kidneys, etc.

羊肉串 Lamb Kebabs

羊肉串 Lamb Kebabs

This is not the more expensive lamb kebabs with cedar sticks. I don’t see how the cedar sticks add to the flavour of the kebabs. The flavours come from the spices – cumin, paprika, rosemary, thyme, etc – that are sprinkled liberally on the lambs. And it comes from the fats burning in charcoal fire in the pits behind the restaurant. So I don’t mind the metal skewers, even though the skeptics will squeal from such a technique.

西红柿炒蛋 Tomato Omelette

西红柿炒蛋 tomato omelette

The tomato omelette is slightly different from the Cantonese way (which added ketchup) as the egg is more cooked and they put pepper in it.

大盘鸡 Big Plate Chicken

大盘鸡 Big Plate Chicken

THe “curry chicken” of Xinjiang. The chicken is not the highlight, the sauce is.

加面 add noodles

And homemade noodles (like a pasta) is added at the end to soak up all the sauces. Yummy.

青椒皮蛋 Green Pepper and Century Egg

青椒皮蛋 Green Pepper and Century Egg

This is not quite Xinjiang cuisine. It has been introduced for commercial reasons. As a Xinjiang restaurant in a Chinese majority country, one has to cater to the tastes of locals. Not everyone is accustomed to the spices used in Xinjiang cuisine and would like something familiar. There’s not culinary skill to this dish, just cut up century eggs, pour some vinegar and topped with scallions and green peppers.

About Xinjiang

Covering 1/6th the area of China and larger than the state of Alaska, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is an extremely diverse region, with mountains over 5000m and valleys well below sea level.  It has many endemic species, some of the largest ungulate populations in Asia, and is the home of the worlds only truly wild (as opposed to feral) horse: Przewalski’s wild horse.Majority Muslims, their cuisine is heavily influenced by the Arabian in terms of the use of spices and Halal due to their religious inclinations. 

Tamarix Restaurant

I love Xinjiang food – the use of spices on lamb and beef, the handmade pastas (flat noodles), the exotic tastes. Xinjiang food in China is abundant, however it is characterised as the food for the working people. The only time it has been described as fine dining is when I was in Beijing and ate at the Xinjiang Administration Office.

Interestingly, the restaurant is rated very highly in Shenzhen for Xinjiang cuisine. I was there after lunch time peak hour, so the place was empty. However the BBQ pit for the lamb kebabs was still going so we can order the specialty.

Tamarix 新疆红柳花餐厅
Tel : +86 755 8387 9500

Date Visited : Nov 2017

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