Xinjiang Lamian review

Go-to dish: Wheat noodles with chives and sliced lamb.
Go-to dish: Wheat noodles with chives and sliced lamb. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

255 Elizabeth St Melbourne, VIC 3000

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Opening hours Daily 11.30am-3.30pm, 5pm-10pm
Prices Cheap (mains under $20)
Phone 03 7015 8023

If there's anything better than eating fresh handmade noodles as long as your arm in a sweet, heartfelt restaurant I wasn't able to think what it might be on the recent Sunday I filled up at Xinjiang Lamian.

This speedy, simple little eatery puts a very personal spin on the food of Xinjiang, in north-west China.

Owner Victor Zhang grew up in Urumqi, much closer to Mongolia and Kazakhstan than Beijing. His uncle owned a restaurant and passed on secrets that Victor incorporated into his own dishes.

Xinjiang Lamian is a speedy, simple little eatery in the city.
Xinjiang Lamian is a speedy, simple little eatery in the city. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

He also draws on family traditions – the chives his father grew in pots back home, the cucumber salad his mother made ​– and the multicultural mix of his vast inland birthplace, home to the oppressed Uighur minority as well as more than a dozen other ethnic groups.

Xinjiang is famous for wheat noodles, stretched and boiled to order. Lamb is a key ingredient, as is cumin, reflecting the Silk Road positioning of Xinjiang.

These emblematic elements star on a menu that zooms from soups to skewers to stir-fries and the famous "big-pan chicken" stew.

Cumin-dusted charcoal-grilled lamb skewers.
Cumin-dusted charcoal-grilled lamb skewers. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

And of course, noodles. Zhang's favourite is the version tossed with fragrant chives and sliced lamb. Beg for scissors if the bouncy metre-long noodles seem determined to slither into your lap rather than your mouth.

Charcoal-grilled lamb skewers are cumin-dusted and delicious. Tiger salad – with cucumber, coriander, spring onions, housemade chilli oil and sesame dressing – is a cool, fresh foil for the meat.

Supple dumplings are filled with lamb and cabbage: they're great with black vinegar and chilli.

Fried lamb dumplings.
Fried lamb dumplings. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

Xinjiang Lamian opened mid-2020, a tricky time for CBD ventures. It's been tough.

But as the city revives and people rediscover the joy of going out for noodles, it's surely time for many more Melbourne-bound trips to Xinjiang.

https://xinjianglamian.com/