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Simul Parikh

Queen Amannisa, Uighur (Xinjiang) Cuisine on 23rd. Street in Crystal City, Just East of Route 1 - Closed

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This is one of the only restaurants to serve Uighur cuisine in the country (there are probably 5 total, from my limited googling, and none in the east coast).

I'd been meaning to go to this place since it opened, as it's pretty close to where I live. There have been good early reviews on Chowhound and Yelp and Tyler Cowen, and I was pretty excited about it. It's right next door to Legal Seafood on 23rd St.

First impression is that it is absolutely freezing in that restaurant. The hostesses and waitresses were wearing parkas. I kept my coat on the whole time.

I ordered a hot tea to start, out of sheer necessity. Unlike a lot of Chinese restaurants, the tea is not free. They also have many varieties of it. This one was their house, and it was $3.50. They don't have alcohol at this point.

It was just me, so I couldn't order a whole lot. They are known for their big plate chicken, but it was a lot of food for one person, and I don't have time for leftovers this week, so I'll wait til the next visit to try it. I got the cold spice noodle, which is similar to Hong Kong Palace's Chengdu Spicy Cold Noodles. This came out first, and they give you a lot more of it. It's not that spicy, and honestly, blander compared to HKP. For my main, I wanted something spicy, and so she recommended the chicken laghman. This was a noodle stir fry, there was eggplants, celery, red peppers, green peppers, and large caliber noodles that I guess they are noted for. It was a brownish sauce that was tasty but not spicy in the least. I told the waitress this, and I asked for some chili. She brought a brownish sauce that was pretty darn good, added that umami, and spiced it up a bit.

I was really hoping to like this place more. I certainly get their star dish, nor did I try any of their lamb dishes, which looked good. I saw people with the chicken dish, and it looked/smelled great. I'll go again when I have some company to eat with.

I'd suggest going when the weather gets better, unless it was heating problem that hopefully will get fixed.

Anyone else go yet?

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This is one of the only restaurants to serve Uighur cuisine in the country (there are probably 5 total, from my limited googling, and none in the east coast).

I'd been meaning to go to this place since it opened, as it's pretty close to where I live. There have been good early reviews on Chowhound and Yelp and Tyler Cowen, and I was pretty excited about it. It's right next door to Legal Seafood on 23rd St.

First impression is that it is absolutely freezing in that restaurant. The hostesses and waitresses were wearing parkas. I kept my coat on the whole time.

I ordered a hot tea to start, out of sheer necessity. Unlike a lot of Chinese restaurants, the tea is not free. They also have many varieties of it. This one was their house, and it was $3.50. They don't have alcohol at this point.

It was just me, so I couldn't order a whole lot. They are known for their big plate chicken, but it was a lot of food for one person, and I don't have time for leftovers this week, so I'll wait til the next visit to try it. I got the cold spice noodle, which is similar to Hong Kong Palace's Chengdu Spicy Cold Noodles. This came out first, and they give you a lot more of it. It's not that spicy, and honestly, blander compared to HKP. For my main, I wanted something spicy, and so she recommended the chicken laghman. This was a noodle stir fry, there was eggplants, celery, red peppers, green peppers, and large caliber noodles that I guess they are noted for. It was a brownish sauce that was tasty but not spicy in the least. I told the waitress this, and I asked for some chili. She brought a brownish sauce that was pretty darn good, added that umami, and spiced it up a bit.

I was really hoping to like this place more. I certainly get their star dish, nor did I try any of their lamb dishes, which looked good. I saw people with the chicken dish, and it looked/smelled great. I'll go again when I have some company to eat with.

I'd suggest going when the weather gets better, unless it was heating problem that hopefully will get fixed.

Anyone else go yet?

This sounds outstanding - thanks for the heads-up, and for the report. I work right by here...will definitely check out this week and weigh in!

Cheers!

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Note also that Uyghur appears to be the North American variant; Uighur appears to be British - sort of like gray and grey.

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Note also that Uyghur appears to be the North American variant; Uighur appears to be British - sort of like gray and grey.

Gray and grey are not the best example of American versus British spelling, since both forms are quite commonly found on both sides of the Atlantic. Perhaps defense and defence?

The notes on the spelling of gray/grey in the OED are extensive and fascinating. This is just an excerpt:

Spelling history from late Middle English onwards.

 
The variation between spellings in ei , ey , etc., and in ai , ay , etc., in later Middle English results from the general Middle English merger of the ei and ai diphthongs. Among words of similar phonological shape in Old English, see clay n. for similar variation followed by eventual selection of a spelling in ay as standard, but whey n. and (disregarding the divergent modern pronunciation) key n.1 for similar variation followed by eventual selection of a spelling in ey . The present word is distinguished by the fact that both spelling types continued in frequent use for a very long time, and different spellings have been selected as standard in U.S. English (gray ) and in British English (generally grey , although individual usage can vary).
 
Concerning contemporary variation N.E.D. (1900) noted: "˜With regard to the question of usage, an inquiry by Dr. Murray in Nov. 1893 elicited a large number of replies, from which it appeared that in Great Britain the form grey is the more frequent in use, notwithstanding the authority of Johnson and later English lexicographers, who have all given the preference to gray. In answer to questions as to their practice, the printers of The Times stated that they always used the form gray; Messrs. Spottiswoode and Messrs. Clowes always used grey; other eminent printing firms had no fixed rule. Many correspondents said that they used the two forms with a difference of meaning or application: the distinction most generally recognized being that grey denotes a more delicate or a lighter tint than gray. Others considered the difference to be that gray is a "˜warmer' colour, or that it has a mixture of red or brown.'

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This sounds outstanding - thanks for the heads-up, and for the report. I work right by here...will definitely check out this week and weigh in!

Cheers!

So do i........let me know if you want to do a DR expedition.

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This is one of the only restaurants to serve Uighur cuisine in the country (there are probably 5 total, from my limited googling, and none in the east coast).

I'd offer that there are several options in greater NYC for this cuisine. Kashkar is an example, but I'm sure there are others in Flushing.

I had a couple meals in Shanghai from some locals who were originally from Uighur. I'm certainly interested in how this works out as I am normally closer to DC, so please don't look at this as just a thread dump.

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From physicist that went last night:

"Chicken (thumbs down emoji). Too much bone. No meat. Just chopped up pieces of bone and fighting to get flecks of meat off of bone. I was so hungry. I wish they just threw some chicken breast in there. I liked the sauce and the flavors. There was only like 5 noodles. Samsa was bad. Samsa was just huge chucks of inedible fat. The temperature was not cold inside. I'm not going back."

Bummer

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 Yes.  I was underwhelmed.

From physicist that went last night:

"Chicken (thumbs down emoji). Too much bone. No meat. Just chopped up pieces of bone and fighting to get flecks of meat off of bone. I was so hungry. I wish they just threw some chicken breast in there. I liked the sauce and the flavors. There was only like 5 noodles. Samsa was bad. Samsa was just huge chucks of inedible fat. The temperature was not cold inside. I'm not going back."

Bummer

So do i........let me know if you want to do a DR expedition.  

Well, shit. Spent forever yesterday getting lost in Wikipedia and linking to more and more info on Uyghur/Uighur cuisine. Got me all excited, but now it sounds like we might have to wait a bit for them to get in a groove, Bart.

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Let me add an edit, because said physicist brought leftovers to the clinic and I just crushed half a plate.

The big plate chicken was delicious. I'm wondering if these hard scientist guys just don't like picking meat off the bone. That was sofa king tasty. Spicy, but not overwhelming. Some sichuan peppercorns. Sauce is so good. I didn't have any of the noodles, he's right not many. They aren't the fat spaghetti type seen in the laghman. These are wider noodles, about 1.5cm in width, 10 cm in length. It's unclear whether there is a large amount of chicken that just had to picked off the bone, or if it truly was a small amount of chicken. It's really hard getting information from him, without enhanced interrogation techniques.

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I'd offer that there are several options in greater NYC for this cuisine. Kashkar is an example, but I'm sure there are others in Flushing.

I had a couple meals in Shanghai from some locals who were originally from Uighur. I'm certainly interested in how this works out as I am normally closer to DC, so please don't look at this as just a thread dump.

I went to a place called Cafe Arzu in Rego Park, Queens, that supposedly has Uyghur food. This was almost 10 years ago, so I don't remember much, but they still appear to be open. I studied in China for 6 months during college and we used to go to a neighborhood in Beijing called Uyghurville (at least by the expats; apparently it's long gone now, having been replaced by condos or something else terrible) for Uyghur food that was so amazingly delicious. I would so love to have a source for lagman with spiced lamb nearby.

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From physicist that went last night:

"Chicken (thumbs down emoji). Too much bone. No meat. Just chopped up pieces of bone and fighting to get flecks of meat off of bone. I was so hungry. I wish they just threw some chicken breast in there. I liked the sauce and the flavors. There was only like 5 noodles...."

Bummer

Let me add an edit, because said physicist brought leftovers to the clinic and I just crushed half a plate.

The big plate chicken was delicious. I'm wondering if these hard scientist guys just don't like picking meat off the bone. That was sofa king tasty. Spicy, but not overwhelming. Some sichuan peppercorns. Sauce is so good. I didn't have any of the noodles, he's right not many. They aren't the fat spaghetti type seen in the laghman. These are wider noodles, about 1.5cm in width, 10 cm in length. It's unclear whether there is a large amount of chicken that just had to picked off the bone, or if it truly was a small amount of chicken. It's really hard getting information from him, without enhanced interrogation techniques.

I had the Big Plate Chicken ($28.95) tonight, and really liked it too. I think both your friend's description *and* your description are accurate - it's enough for two people (especially with an appetizer). When it came out, I had to actually ask if it was chicken, because it was so darkly marinated (and long-cooked) that it looked like beef or lamb at first glance. No alcohol served, so a pot of Green Tea ($3) rounded out the meal - I will add to exercise caution if you get some of the infused teas, as they're $6.95 (I'm not saying they aren't worth it, but just be prepared for the price).

I was hoping this would cover my desire to try the chicken and the Laghman, but as you say, there were about five noodles total, and they were exactly as you describe. I have lunch tomorrow as leftovers, and possibly even more than that.

As I was eating this dish, I knew I was having a cuisine that I'd never eaten before, and it's *exactly* like I would imagine it being (something from Western China, near Pakistan). It's Islamic; yet, there are Chinese influences throughout - a little spicy, a little sweet, very long-cooked, and something you'd picture being served to a family on a single, big plate. Don't let the price keep you away from ordering this, as it's large enough for two people (or one with plenty of leftovers).

Queen Amannisa is a huge restaurant, and very esoteric. It's going to have its challenges surviving here, but regardless of its future, I'm really glad I experienced the Big Plate Chicken (I should add that I came at a slow time of day, the owners appeared to be there, and everyone was genuinely gracious and accommodating).

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I had the Big Plate Chicken ($28.95) tonight, and really liked it too. I think both your friend's description *and* your description are accurate - it's enough for two people (especially with an appetizer). When it came out, I had to actually ask if it was chicken, because it was so darkly marinated (and long-cooked) that it looked like beef or lamb at first glance. No alcohol served, so a pot of Green Tea ($3) rounded out the meal - I will add to exercise caution if you get some of the infused teas, as they're $6.95 (I'm not saying they aren't worth it, but just be prepared for the price).

By the way, I'm pretty sure this dish had more cloves in it than any dish I've ever had in my life.

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Full disclosure: this review is biased by the fact that last night's dinner was my first experience with Uyghur cuisine and my wife and I let our Uyghur friend order for us in the language. That being said, I think this restaurant is a unique opportunity for our region and everyone on this board should give it a shot. We were the only customers in there for an early dinner (4:30-6:30) on Thursday, so I hope that they get more traffic during peak hours. I didn't take pictures of our meal, so the links below are to Yelp pictures from other users.

We started with the Uyghur style salad - our waitress (attentive and friendly) mentioned blueberries, but they didn't appear in our version: fresh vegetables, cheese (think feta), and a subtle (lime? fish sauce?) dressing that reminded this novice of a cross between typical Mediterranean and Thai salads I've had in the past.

I've seen a few different anglicized spellings of our next dish - the menu goes with Polow (think pilaf). Again, a slight discrepancy with the picture menu and what arrived: we got rice (oily, but our friend indicated that this was a feature and not a glitch), carrots, and lamb, but no raisins. Subtle flavor, but probably my least favorite of the evening - still, I'd like to give the full picture version another chance.

The lamb kabobs were a highlight - well seasoned and perfectly grilled. For the full effect, eat them as soon as they arrive.

I was pleasantly surprised by the meat nan - I expected the pastry to be flaky or doughy, but it was closer in texture to the chewy potstickers I grew up eating at Americanized Chinese restaurants.

Everyone's favorite dish was the dry-fried noodles - clearly hand-pulled thick noodles, well-cooked vegetables, and beef lightly spiced with something like Sichuan pepper all added up perfectly. That's the dish that will call me back to this place. We ordered "spicy," but I came away with the understanding that Uyghur cuisine just doesn't go for the heat-spice of Indian, Thai, Latin, etc. - more aromatic and, with this dish in particular, mildly numbing.

Not cheap but not outrageous - five substantial dishes for $75 plus tip. We left very satisfied.

Based on the reviews above, I definitely want to try the Big Plate Chicken, and a few other Yelp pictures stood out - Ding Ding Noodles and cold black wood ear.

 

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The website for this place says closed for renovations, and Yelp appears to says that, as well.  Not sure about any details.

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50 minutes ago, ktmoomau said:

The website for this place says closed for renovations, and Yelp appears to says that, as well.  Not sure about any details.

This is a 2-3-year-old restaurant. Any "renovations" would probably be to make it into a new restaurant (unless there was some major code violation, which is unlikely).

On the other hand, both the website and Yelp stress "temporary," so who knows?

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ARLnow reports that a bowling alley is moving into the space:

Bowlero will move into a space once occupied by the tech company GDIT, and the Queen Amannisa Uyghur restaurant. The fate of the restaurant is a bit murky, however — a sign on the door says it will be relocating to a space next to Legal Sea Food, just down 23rd Street S., but a staff member would only tell ARLnow that the restaurant is currently undergoing renovations, and would not confirm the move.

Additional information from WBJ.

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