Tarim Uighur

257 Glenferrie Rd, Malvern
Phone: 9500 8828

I’m not sure exactly how the conversation started, but I managed to self-invite myself along to a Uighur tweetup a couple of weeks ago. Along with @eatnik, I set out East to meet @alexlobov, @jillianjtl and @bui for a feast at Tarim Uighur Restaurant in Malvern.

Tarim is presumably named after the Tarim basin, which covers a large part of the Xinjiang region of North-Western China. The restaurant is run by a husband and wife team, who are both wonderfully friendly. It’s one of those places with a functional, sparse decor, where you get your own tea, and the chopsticks are disposable. Be aware that service may be a little slow if they’re busy, but the food’s worth the wait.

We started off with the beef tongue. It was wonderfully tender, and had good flavour.

We were recommended to try the baked buns, filled with beef mince and onion, so we decided to share one between two. The bread was light, kind of like Turkish bread. The filling wasn’t particularly flavoursome, but it was pretty good anyway.

The close proximity of the Tarim basin to the steppes of the ‘istans (Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan) and the Turkic ethnic roots of the Uighur people meant that there’s a bit of a Russian/Turkish style to this food, as opposed to your typical Chinese, or even Tibetan, restaurant. Don’t expect  to have rice with your meal – the breads and noodles are more interesting anyway.

Alex commented that the grilled meat skewers we ordered were pretty much like the ones his Russian father makes. He claims his father’s are better, in which case they’d be pretty amazing, because these lamb skewers were well spiced, and perfectly cooked. I’d tried this sort of skewer as street food in Yunnan years ago, but the meat was never this tender and juicy. It could have something to do with the quality of our meat produce here, as opposed to rural China?

We then got the fried noodles with beef – they were good, but not that memorable. I liked the abundance of sesame seeds which coat the noodles. I remember adding chilli oil to this. By the way, their chilli oil paste there is three kinds of WOW.
They were out of lamb tripe for the night (which was a little disappointing, because no-one could remember having tried lamb tripe before, so we were excited) so we ordered the beef tripe instead. Again, the flavouring was a little bit boring, but the texture was great. This dish was quite oily, which quickly became apparent as it cooled, and became less and less appetising.
We ordered ‘eggs with leeks’ which came out as ‘eggs with chives’. These were not that exciting, and I wish we’d ordered something else. Oh well, we’ll know better for next time.
Amazingly, with all of this food – we all left sated, but not quite satisfied (cue ice cream at Trampoline, then drinks at Der Raum) – the bill ended up working out at about $13 each! Offal is such good value. 😛

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