In the far eastern corridor of Los Angeles County, there's a restaurant aptly named Silk Road Garden that features some of the most authentic plates of Uyghur (pronounced way-ger) food in Los Angeles. Muslim tapestries boldly grace the walls, and on the counters are golden artifacts and miniature replicas of the khustar, a bowed instrument with four strings.
The Uyghurs are a Turkic ethnic group concentrated in Xinjiang, an autonomous region in northwest China that borders Russia, Afghanistan and India. The name of the restaurant is appropriate—Xinjiang is located at the heart of the famous Silk Road, and like its storied trading route, the cuisine is bridge between Turkic and Han Chinese culinary styles. Noodles and lamb appear aplenty and spices like cumin and black pepper are at the heart of every dish.
Silk Road, whose menu is entirely halal, has been open for a year, and both the chef and owner hail directly from Xinjiang. Their most popular dishes include the appropriately-named big plate chicken, seasoned expertly with dates, star anise and Sichuan peppercorns, and long hand-pulled noodles drenched in cumin and meat sauce. The thick Xinjiang yogurt--topped with sesame seeds, honey and raisins--is also made in-house, providing a tangy contrast to the heavy, tongue-numbing spices typical of the cuisine.
Not sure where to start with this little-known cuisine? We've compiled a guide to Silk Road Garden's most popular dishes.
Silk Road Garden
18920 E. Gale Ave., Rowland Heights, CA (map)