East Nanjing Road is considered to be one of the busiest shopping streets in the world. This is the place to go if you just gots to shop. I am not a shopper. I dislike queues, fitting rooms and endless hangers. In fact, if it ain’t trainers or books, then I ain’t interested. I do however have a fondness for this particular stretch of neon consumerism, namely due to the presence of egg tarts, Happy Lemon and my first taste of halal food in Shanghai…
Typically characterised by green decor and arabic writing, the halal restaurants in Shanghai are easily recognisable. The words Muslim and Halal also help.
The brightly lit interior had lots of photos displaying the food on offer, and absolutely no English words whatsoever. Now I never get to point at food; rude or not, pointing displays an untroubled freedom I rarely experience. Most of the time if I’m not sure what the dish is I have to check what the ingredients are and confirm whether it’s something I can eat and if I tried pointing after all the questions, I would probably get punched in the face. Not this time. This time would be different. Arm proud and strong, I chose my meal and pointed like I’ve never pointed before (whilst resisting the urge to stand on the table). It felt good. It felt right.
LAMB + PEPPERS + RICE
My dinner arrived looking prettier than advertised. The photo on the wall showed chunks of meat, peppers and onion, but what I got instead was thin, fried slivers of each. The onions were soft and caramelised, the peppers still crunchy and the lamb was tender and crusted with dried spices and burnt charcoal bits from the wok. And at 18RMB (about £1.80), excellent value for money.
The first time I tried the soup here, I thought it was awful. I’m used to soup with a chicken/vegetable stock base and so initially it tasted as if I’d licked a hot cow. However, after a few mouthfuls of rice I slowly sipped on spoonfuls until I ended up rather liking it. It was surprisingly light and grease-free and smelled warmly of roasted meat and spices.
Xinjiang cuisine tends to be quite dry, and the chilli sauce at Muslim Food was no different. Spicy with a slight, roasted crunchiness that was excellently addictive; this was my favourite of the whole trip.
We went back the next evening and I decided to get some chicken (also 18RMB). This did look like the photo, and sadly did not live up to its predecessor. The vegetables were still crunchy and the shiny sauce was actually quite nice, however the chicken was far too dry. I’d recommend sticking to the lamb.
Muslim Food Once again, I’m not exactly sure where it is. It’s basically two roads away from the main street. If you walk towards Metersbonwe shopping mall, there is a gap between the shopping centre and a stall selling iced drinks, walk through this gap, cross the road and keep walking until you come to the road behind the road behind East Nanjing Road. Muslim Food is just to the left, very close to a hairdressers… (Unfortunately I never realised quite how terrible I am providing directions until I started this blog).