This is Food from the Edge of China

Uyghur Cuisine at Silk Road Garden in Rowland Heights.

In northwest China, at the very edge of the most populous nation in the world, lies the autonoumous region of Xinjiang Uyghur. This portion of China borders Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan as well as Russia, Mongolia, and India.

As you might imagine, the cuisine of the Uyghur people is influenced by its border neighbors as well as its own country. The trading route connecting China to Afro-Eurasian landmassesthe Silk Roadgoes as far back as 206 B.C. Therefore, the multicultural flavors of Uyghur’s food has had plenty of time to marinate.

A tapestry of ebullient Uyghur men jamming on tembors and percussive dafs hangs handsomely in the dining room of Silk Road Garden in Rowland Heights. Those same musical instruments from Uyghur are displayed near the cash register, as if they leapt out of the decorative rug. Which is to say, there’s a vibe of authenticity as soon as you step into the place.

Everything offered here is halal, so there is no pork and there are many lamb dishes.

One of the outstanding plates is the special handmade noodles with stir fried lamb and mixed vegetables. Essentially a lamein or pulled noodle, one strand of continuous noodle is pulled from a ball of wheat flour dough.

After this single long strand is boiled to a proper texture, it’s fried in a wok with lamb, wood ear fungus, trumpet mushroom slices, red bell peppers, onion, napa cabbage, ginger, and garlic. Slick and oily, the accompanying red pepper sauce is spicy and sour.

Silk Road Garden is a restaurant cooking very specialized and otherwise hard-to-find Chinese-Islamic foods like pamirdin (baked pies with lamb and vegetables) and xurpa (lamb soup).

Rowland Heights might be further afield but, considering where Xinjiang is located, the Pomona freeway isn’t all that out of the way.

Silk Road Garden, 18920 Gale Ave., Rowland Heights, (626) 999-6165