One of China’s many unique cuisines, the food you’ll find in Xinjiang will probably make you think more of the Middle East than it does China. As a predominantly Muslim region, pork is relatively hard to come by, and lamb, bread and noodles are staple foods. Living in Ürümqi, you’ll get to experience some of China’s least known but most delicious dishes.
Xinjiang Kebabs: Large chunks of mutton are put on a skewer and roasted over charcoal before being covered in fragrant spices. You’ll see (and smell) this delicious snacks being cooked across the city both on the side of the road and outside restaurants.
Lamian Noodles: Literally translated as ‘pulled noodles’, this noodle dish is made unique by the fact the noodles are expertly stretched into thin strings of dough that are quickly boiled and added to a steamy bowl of flavoured soup. A great, warming dish for those colder days!
Nan Flat Bread: This Xinjiang staple can be found in shops and on food stalls around Urumqi. This uniquely shaped bread is made in just a few minutes, by sticking dough to the inside of a piping hot oven before removing it and covering it in spices. It’s typically round, flat and a golden brown colour and delicious as a snack or with some Xinjiang mutton.
Zhua Fan: The name of this dish literally translates as ‘rice eaten with hands’, thanks to the traditional ways Uygurs would consume it – with their hands. It’s a tasty rice dish that’s cooked with various ingredients, including fresh mutton, carrot and vegetable oil. Today, people tend to use chopsticks and spoons to eat It, so don’t be put off!
It may not be Shanghai or Beijing, but that doesn’t mean Ürümqi doesn’t have its fair share of entertainment venues. Besides a handful of modern bars on Jiefang Nan Lu, the city is home to various local-style attractions that will give you a true taste of the traditional culture and way of life. You’ll find numerous night markets serving delicious local cuisine and beautiful handicrafts, one of the most popular being the WuYi Night Market. For a very traditional evening, head to the Grand Bazaar Entertainment Square to see a local ethnic singing and dancing show. Or, if you’re looking for more contemporary entertainment, you’ll find plenty of cinemas and shopping malls to keep you busy.