Muslim Food in Nanjing, Fantastic!

Muslim Food in Nanjing, Fantastic!
By Sarah Meik , eChinacities.com

Lots of Westerners in China say they love Chinese food. I’m not one of them. It’s mostly slimy combinations of vegetables I wouldn’t make my kids eat, with meat that is old and unidentifiable. I used to joke with the folks back home that during The Great Leap Forward there wasn’t much around to cook, so all the Chinese mamas learned to make do with the unthinkable, and then they developed a taste for it.

The “unthinkable" were things like certain weeds (dandelions), different body parts of animals dried in a variety of ways (duck neck, what a treat!) and don’t forget about stinking tofu. This little treat is available in Nanjing at Fuzimiao. It smells like something dead, but the Nanjingers really like it.


Kebab

But there is one type of Chinese cuisine that has to be some of the best food in the world, and that is Chinese Muslim food. Muslim food in China is primarily characterized by warm soft noodles, with the right combination of stir fried vegetables, grilled lamb and beef, out of this world kebabs, thick breads and sumsa’s, which are little oven baked dumplings filled with delicious vegetables and meat.

Each part of China has its own population of Muslims that cooks food similar to their own location, but each major city seems to attract Muslim immigrants from Xinjiang and Gansu, two western provinces with large Muslim populations. It is the food of Xinjiang and Gansu that seems to be most available, and imitated in restaurants. (It's also the food discussed in this article, as some Muslim restaurants in Nanjing lean towards the Indian/Pakistani fare, which is really very different cuisine.)

To find great Muslim food in Nanjing, Muslims will actually joke, "Go to the Mosque and make some friends!" But if you're not Muslim, or aren’t interested in trying to be one just to get great food, you can try Aladdin’s, located behind the Sheraton Hotel in Xinjiekou. At Aladdin’s, dishes run from a couple yuan for a kebab, to around 100 yuan for beef and chicken delicacies.

You can also just walk down the street. Small vendors are everywhere if you keep your eyes open. Just look for signs with Muslim symbols like the crescent moon, pictures of mosques, or Arabic writing. You can also look out for cooks wearing doppas, which are circular hats that Muslim men from Central Asia typically wear.

In Nanjing, one of the major areas for Muslim restaurants is the side streets of the Nanjing University Campus. On one street alone there are 3 different Muslim restaurants, each one with a line of regulars who claim their restaurant makes better kebab's and bread than all the other guys. (Really, they're all pretty good.) Each restaurant runs a little more expensive than the others, but in this neighborhood, you can find a plate of noodles for 7 yuan, and you can find more expensive grilled dishes, too. Other good places to look include the side streets in the Xinjiekou area, or the restaurants outside the Zhonghuamen gate, where you can find many smaller Muslim vendors.

Also, this author must concede, that although the food at these smaller restaurants is very good, the atmosphere usually isn’t. If you feel you have to, bring your sanitizer and never look too long at the floors.

That being said, here is a list of 4 typical dishes you can enjoy at a Muslim restaurant of your choice:

1. Lamian [拉面 | lāmiàn]

In Nanjing, this is sometimes called “Xinjiang mian.” It’s a simple dish of soft handmade noodles topped with spicy vegetables and seasoning. The noodles are pulled by hand and boiled when you order, so they are usually fantastic. This dish is usually greasy, but soooo delicious.

2. Kebab [烤肉串 | kǎoròuchuàn]

Muslims are most famous for their lamb and beef kebab’s or chuanr, which are seasoned with a combination of cumin and hot, hot pepper and grilled over coals until perfect. Something fun about kebabs is you can buy them from a single guy on a street corner, (usually for about a yuan a piece) or at a larger more expensive location. It doesn’t really matter where you buy the kebab from, it will taste the same - delicious!

Muslims also roast other meats in special ovens. Smaller restaurants usually have lamb, beef, and chicken to choose from on a small scale. Some restaurants in Nanjing will roast an entire lamb or rack of beef if ordered ahead of time.


Nang

3. Nang [馕 | náng]

There are various types of breads you can order at a Muslim restaurant, but the most famous is a flat round loaf of bread about the size of a Frisbee. They call it nang. It has a mild flavor and is sometimes topped with sesame seeds, or oil and seasoning. Unless ordered fresh, it can be very brittle. But most restaurants will grill the bread and also season it when ordered as a side to your dish, which changes the texture and flavor immediately.

4. Sumsa

Sumsa are like baked dumplings, my husband compares them to a pizza pocket. These little goodies are also found in Indian cuisine, as well as that of Xinjiang and other central Asian countries, but all taste a little different. The Xinjiang variety have a soft, chewy crust and are typically filled with lamb and onions. Another benefit is they are usually cheap! Even the higher end restaurants sell them as an extra, usually 3 yuan a piece.

*Just as a voice of warning to Muslims who are looking for a Halal source of food, some Muslim restaurants in Nanjing simply cook Muslim recipes; they aren't actual Muslim establishments interested in using Halal food. So if you are looking for a Halal source, just ask ahead of time and see if the particular restaurant does actually use Halal foods.

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8 Comments

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1

aqolizadeh
comment|73221|109914

sounds Yummy :)

Oct 14, 2016 13:26 Report Abuse

2

martinlee86
comment|42716|273419

Hello! Any friends want to rent an appartment/villa,etc? We offer the best service from check-in to check-out. For more information please contact me by: martinlee86@hotmail.com

Dec 30, 2013 16:14 Report Abuse

3

aqolizadeh
comment|36035|109914

kebab & nan 2 Iranian especial cuisine that you can find all over the world with different taste, but the same "Iranian style and words".

Mar 09, 2013 11:10 Report Abuse

4

Syed
comment|13535|0

Authencity of halal food in few muslim restaurants is doubtful particularly in Indian restaurant Taj Mahal

Mar 26, 2011 01:54 Report Abuse

5

Shahid
comment|5847|0

KOHINOOR Restaurant is on 2nd floor of Ramada Hotel in Nanjing. Nearest subway station is Gulou station. Halal sign is displayed %26 owner is a Muslim. He confirms that he slaughters the chicken himself %26 buys lamb from a halal vendor.

Restaurant is on 2nd floor of Ramada Hotel in Nanjing. Nearest subway station is Gulou station. Halal sign is displayed %26 owner is a Muslim. He confirms that he slaughters the chicken himself %26 buys lamb from a halal vendor. Added on March 24%2C 2009 and last updated 9 months ago

The basics



Cuisine%3A Pakistani
Halal authenticity%3A Unverified
Price%3A %A5%A5 out of %A5%A5%A5%A5
Payment accepted%3A
Hours%3A 10 am to 11 pm
Phone%3A 86-25-83122522
Website%3A kohinoorhalalfood.com
Email%3A nisar_hi22@hotmail.com






Cuisine%3A Pakistani
Halal authenticity%3A Unverified
Price%3A %A5%A5 out of %A5%A5%A5%A5
Payment accepted%3A
Hours%3A 10 am to 11 pm
Phone%3A 86-25-83122522
Website%3A Click here to visit website
Email%3A Click here to send email



Aug 15, 2010 04:11 Report Abuse

6

eJAZZ
comment|3829|0

A good and informative piece of writing....few good muslim food places are: Himaliya near Shereton Hotel in down town Kohinoor Resturant in RAMADA Plaza 45 Zang Shang Road Punjab on Hunan Road and a SInkiang Muslim Resturant (name may be little wrong)near Hunan Road. eJAZ

Jun 09, 2010 08:18 Report Abuse

7

Yan
comment|2114|0

Nanjing Ren, such as me, don't attribute our great Muslim food to Xingjiang or Gansu. In fact, even till 1980s, Nanjing used to have neighborhoods and villages of Muslim residents. Among which, the greatest one was Zheng He, the admiral who flag-shipped the great Ming fleet in 1400s and took Islam to today's Indonesia and Malaysia. Nanjing has a long history of accommodate to Muslims and their culture and.of course their food. Nanjing's salty duck, pan fried beef dumpling, duck blood noodle soup, roasted pan cake... and so on are all local deliciousness for hundreds of years. Of course, Nanjing cuisines include foods from everywhere, including Xiangjiang and Gansu. However, despite their growing popularity, these "exotic" Muslims food only consists 1/4 of Nanjing's Muslim food variety. After all, the writer might not have been aware that most Muslims in China are known as Hui, who are actually Han people who believe in Qur'an (Koran).

Dec 07, 2009 02:55 Report Abuse

8

Ali
comment|2067|0

its a great article. and truly speaking. i love xinjiang food in nanjing. specially the kebabs here. the author has taken up all the details very beautiffully. i admire her efforts. Regards

Dec 03, 2009 21:32 Report Abuse