|Xiyu Fengqing Xinjiang Restaurant
|11:30am - 9:30pm|
|Block 8, 1/F, Kai Yue Xin Cheng, 9 South Sect. 1st, 1st Ring Rd.|
|028 8884 5058|
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Mark Hiew (more chengdu)|
There are some restaurants in Chengdu that tend to receive a level of foreign patronage disproportionate to their actual quality. This can be attributed as much to ignorance as to convenience: if you’re only around for a short while, it’s easier to just stick with what you know. As natural as this might be, it can lead to poorly run, mediocre places like the Xinjiang restaurant near Sichuan University’s south gate, which receives significant business when far superior Xinjiang restaurants like Xiyu Feng, located not far from the university’s north gate, remain relatively unknown.
This isn’t the case amongst local university students, who are gradually swelling the tables of this vibrant establishment, whose owners opened it upon graduating from university. The difference is enormous: in place of dirty walls, one encounters Uighur music videos and paintings, instead of a “big chicken plate” – da pan ji filled with bones, theirs is full of meat, and instead of unwashed young men rubbing up against female patrons as they serve the food, wait staff are neatly dressed and attentive. This isn’t about ethnicity—the owners are Han, though cooks and waitstaff are mostly Uighur—it’s about quality food and atmosphere.
The da pan ji — the restaurant’s signature dish — was simply tremendous: the medium size (40RMB) is easily enough for three people, the large can feed five or six. The tomato-based sauce was curry-like in consistency, mixed with mala peppers, and the chicken, potato and green pepper portions were generous and perfectly cooked. When you’re done with the contents, ask your waiter to add some of the flat, wide noodles or use a nan and sop up the sauce. Also excellent was the ever-popular lamb kebabs (2RMB each), which are larger than other restaurants and come served on satisfyingly authentic (and more environmentally sustainable) metal skewers and the yoghurt (3RMB per individual serving), which is thick and slightly sour, unlike that sugary liquid version sold in supermarkets.
Xiyu Feng’s other dishes were all expertly prepared: the twice-cooked potato, dry fried green beans and tomato fried egg—all under 10RMB—were on par with any quality local restaurant. Also worth trying is the Sinkiang (the former spelling for “Xinjiang”) beer (8), or one of the several “fire waters” also sourced from the Northwest.
Located in lively Hongwasi on the ground floor, Xiyu’s location is within walking distance of the clubs and bars of Jiuyan Bridge. There’s another good Xinjiang restaurant directly above it, but which charges twice the price. With its relaxed, bustling setting a celebration of Uighur music and culture, Xiyu Feng is a natural choice for delicious Xinjiang food for around 20-40RMB/person. Next time you’re hankering for da pan ji, bypass that old south gate holdover and experience the difference.