After searching for several years and failing to find a decently rated Uyghur restaurant in London, suddenly there were two. I had read about Silk Road but it sounded like a Chinese restaurant that had Uyghur dishes rather than an Uyghur restaurant itself. Chance would have it that I would come across this article by Fuchsia Dunlop, the UK chef who allowed me to cook Sichuan food at home. And good fortune means that I trust her reviews for all things around here (https://london.eater.com/2018/2/22/17039556/etles-london-first-authentic-uyghur-restaurant).
Etles in Walthamstow and Dilara in Finsbury Park shot to the top of the to-try list. Etles was the first one for me and we went with friends of whom one is from Yili, the same town in Xinjiang as the owners/chefs of Etles.
- Da pan ji (chicken, bell peppers, potatoes, garlic, ginger, soya sauce, herbs, homemade pasta) £30 for big plate - mild flavour, quite nice;
- Lagman (freshly handmade Uyghur pasta, stirfried beef) £9 - also mild flavour and probably needed more spice for me;
- Uyghur sis kabab (lamb marinated with special recipe) £2 each - delicious tender and fatty proper lamb kebab with lots of salt and cumin;
- Lamb kidney kebab £4 each - really good with a characteristic kidney texture and flavour. Delicious.
Unfortunately they didn't have polo (rice) that day. I also read they had samsa but it wasn't on the menu, and I was really keen for this after the great Uzbek food in Russia. They didn't mention it - until I saw another table receive them at the end of our meal - oh, it isn't on the menu but you can ask for it. Alright, give me one. Sorry, they ordered the last ones. Great.
I liked the food overall. Both kebabs had the most flavour, but all dishes were good to me. Our friends said that the kebab was better at Etles, but the other dishes were better at Dilara. I'll have to compare them myself.