Turpan Uyghur Restaurant – Holborn, London
The last time we visited an authentic Uyghur restaurant was in Janauary of this year at Etles’ second venue in London’s Childs Hill.
Given how much we enjoyed the experience, having rated it an impressive 4/5, we were looking forward to visiting, to our knowledge, Central London’s very first Uyghur restaurant.
Turpan recently took over a long established Italian cafe on Great Russell Street in Bloomsbury, before being forced to close with the onset of the pandemic.
As a result, vestiges of the previous decor are still in place as the two owners navigate their way towards making that full transition.
With a seating capacity of 33, which includes a cosy little room at the back for 18, Turpan has slowly incorporated elements of Uyghur paraphernalia into its decor, including charming little hats and traditional musical instruments hung about the place.
More importantly, the owners have also managed to procure HMC-sourced meat for their fully Halal menu, which offers wholly traditional Uyghur dishes.
One other fun fact is that one of the owners here was originally behind the establishment of Etles in Walthamstow before moving on.
It made us all the more excited, given Etles’ quality, that the owners of Turpan are no strangers to restauranteering.
Thin slithers of peppers and carrots, mixed in with red onions, lettuce and vermicelli noodles – all tossed in a light and tangy vinegary dressing – is what defined this colourful Uyghur Salad. A great way to get the taste buds primed.
When you have pastry parcels presented as radiantly golden brown as these, and with an attractive sheen to boot, you know you’re half way there towards something special. We’re glad to say, the other half tasted even better than it looked.
With not a soggy bottom in sight, the pastry didn’t just turn out ultra light and flaky, but it contained a rich and aromatic minced meat mixture that was seasoned to a tee, with mellow heat coming through courtesy of the cumin.
Biting into these Uzbeki-inspired Samsa was an experience in itself. What a start!RECOMMENDED
Here, it was obvious that an expert hand had been at work in adroitly crimping these phenomenally good Pitir Manta, before boiling and presenting these packages of glistening goodness with an addictive bowl of chilli sauce.
Generously filled with a deliciously moist and tender lamb mixture, the secret to enjoying these dumplings for all they’re worth is to thoroughly dunk them in that watery chilli dip, which provides a vinegary kick alongside some gentle heat.
More surprisingly, and contrary to their size, these were light enough for us to have devoured another half dozen if we wanted to.
These relatively tough and chewy Uyghur Kawap Skewers were oddily marinated in a dry rub, that offered decent heat, but nothing more. Avoidable!
With a crispy-cum-crunchy exterior, this certainly was more the latter in terms of texture, being neatly presented on a type of wooden pizza board.
The interior again housed a lightly fragrant, minced lamb filling, which, though a tad on the wet side, was soft and succulent.
Despite being a subtly herbaceous and enjoyable meat pie, it is a touch dear at £12.00.
We’ve enjoyed something very similar to this Tohu Qodaq before, and it left a lasting impression, with the sichuan pepper being the driving force behind this humongous dish.
Coming in two sizes, medium and large, we opted for the former, and we’re presented with this assortment of goodies mixed in with plenty of handmade pasta.
First off, the balance and flavour. The precision with which the chef was able to temper the heat and strength of the pepper, without compromising on its distinct depth of flavour and its characteristic lip-numbing effect, such that it remained unobtrusive throughout, was masterful.
Not only could you, therefore, enjoy the soft potatoes and the mix of vegetables throughout, but that thick and chewy, handmade pasta too, which, having sufficiently soaked up the rich umami sauce it rested in, was an absolute delight in its own right.
If we did have a quibble, then we would have preferred better quality chicken. The choice of nibblets might have been by design, given their contrastive textures; but, we found picking out bits of bone every so often an unnecessary distraction. Having said though, this extraordinary dish is definitely worth exploring on flavour alone.RECOMMENDED
Again, the defining factor here, which alone made our trip into Central London worthwhile, was the harmony of flavours achieved with ingredients as powerful as those potent sichuan peppers and some additional spices absent in the above Tohu Qodaq.
The lamb hooves, and plenty of them too, had been beautifully rendered down during a long marination process, to leave them soft and gummy in texture.
With the broth evidently thickened by the gelatinous nature of the hooves, this was mildly chilli, with the peppers playing their inevitable part in not so much numbing the lips and tongue as leaving them tingling.
Plenty of onions, coupled with chunky red and green peppers and the occasional flecks of garlic, assured that this Pachaq was one of the dishes of this review. Superb!
The Qoruma Chop split the crowd somewhat, with one Lion absolutely enjoying the meaty texture of not just the beef strips, which themselves were juicy and chewy, but also those freshly-made, homemade noodles which were easily the firmest had on the day.
And though not everyone was convinced by their texture, we were all agreed on how tasty the overall dish was, with the long strips of beef, red and green peppers, and spring onions, enveloped in a smoky, well seasoned sauce; and generously sprinkled in plenty of sesame seeds to provide a little textural contrast.RECOMMENDED
We recall being left in a quiet trance as we collectively wondered the following: To create a Polu/ Pilaf dish of such simplicity, but one which managed to make full use of the natural flavours of the moist lamb, roughly cut up and scattered across the top, along with the finely diced carrots and onions, is just extraordinary!RECOMMENDED
The difference between the two was that, unlike the aforementioned, which was boiled, these were steamed, thus leaving them more stickier as a result, and slightly smaller with denser crimping, which left them more chewier.
Unlike the version served with the Pitir Manta, this particular side of chilli sauce was just as delicious, but differed in consistency, turning out with an almost minced meat-like texture, which we relished.
Either way, the two styles of dumplings were distinct enough to make them memorable in their own right.
We’re struggling to think of a soup as deeply comforting as this Chochure, particularly during these cold, bleak months where anything hot and liquidy is a god-send.
Large and plump dumpling balls, packed with a light and fragrant, minced lamb filling, and all floating in a steamy bone broth, with a vinegary edge and hints of mint and herb. What more could you ask for? Dangerously addictive this!
- NO/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
While they haven't been open for long, with months of closure forced by a national lockdown not helping a new business desperately trying to find its feet in an expensive and competitive part of Central London, there is room for improvement. But the areas they've already nailed are so exceptionally good that Turpan has to be one of the go-to places if you're in that part of London.
More importantly, we've teamed up with them to offer you guys a whopping 30% off most of their menu for the next two weeks. Go and enjoy the marvellous mix of cultures, which ultimately defines the variety available on any given Uyghur menu, but particularly Turpan's.
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