Xin Jiang Restaurant 西域食府.清真 (Markham)

Xinjiang is a region in northwest China that shares its borders with Tibet, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and India (amongst others) and after centuries of migration is now home to several ethnic groups. This multiculturalism makes its way into their cuisine, with a host of preparation methods and ingredients that’s unlike the food in other parts of China.

A common dish for the region is roasted kabab. At Xin Jiang Restaurant, the Xinjiang style BBQ lamb kabob ($2.49 each) is probably their most popular dish - every table seems to have a plate of gleaming metal skewers. It’s not something I normally gravitate towards but decided to try it anyways given Zomato/Yelp reviews say it’s one of the best in the city. The skewer was smaller than anticipated, but well prepared so the lamb was just cooked through and tender. Not surprisingly, there was a gamey taste, but it wasn’t overpowering given the meat was covered with enough slightly spicy and curried dry rub.

The wrapper on the steamed lamb and onion dumplings ($9.99) was too thick and  still cracked, allowing the juices to escape. For such a popular dish to Northern Chinese restaurants, it was poorly executed. Their menu had limited flavours to choose from; if I had a choice, I would have ordered something else. Aside from the onion, the filling could really benefit from other herbs or vegetables to compliment the lamb.

Xin Jiang’s menu is vague on what’s in the handmade noodle with beef ($12.99). An Uyghur dish, based on lamian, it uses a similar flour-based pulled noodle that tends to be thicker. The dish ended up consisting of boiled noodles tossed with a spicy soy meat broth and chunks of bell peppers, tomato, hard onions, and beef. The chewy noodles were enjoyable, I just wish there was more of it compared to all the other ingredients.

Seeing the spinach with firm tofu at a neighbouring table, it looked refreshing compared to the heavier dishes we ordered. Being a last-minute add on, I didn’t read the menu description and was greeted by a cold dish incorporating a tangy vinegar taste … sort of like spinach with pickled tofu. While refreshing, it’s best in smaller quantities, as like pickles it’s also very salty.

Given Xin Jiang is a smaller restaurant, all the aromatic smells co-mingle in the rectangular dining room - you will reek of food afterwards. However, they surprisingly have a lot of staff working, so customers are well attended to. My palette hasn’t quite developed for Xinjiang cuisine yet, but with a menu that rivals Pickle Barrel, maybe I’ll have to go back and explore more.

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Markham, Canada
 Address: 3636 Steeles Avenue East (in Metro Square)

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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Xin Jiang Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato