The name sounds ordinary. “Sulaiman Restaurant. Chinese Muslim.” I mean, in Indonesia it’s not that uncommon to have halal Chinese cuisine, right? But this time it surprises me. This was no ordinary Chinese cuisine and it was actually my first time experiencing Xinjiang cuisine. I remembered how excited I was, when I saw their neon bright signage along with both Chinese and Arabian font:
Sulaiman is a restaurant established in January 2012, brought by muslim citizens from the city of Xi’an (西安), the capital of Shaanxi province in northwest China region, that came into Indonesia. As Wiki says:
Xi'an, formerly the capital of China, was the first to be introduced to Islam. Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty officially allowed the practice of Islam in 651 AD. Xi'an has a large Muslim community, the significant majority are from the Hui group.
XINJIANG CUISINE (UYGHUR CUISINE)
Other than Xi’an, the majority of muslim in China (mostly from Hui) also found their home in Xinjiang, located in the northwest of the country which also borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, India etc. In here, half of the population of Xinjiang belongs to the Uyghur – a Turkic ethnic group living in Central Asia. So when we’re talking about Xinjiang cuisine, most people would refer them as Uyghur cuisine too, which explains the strong influence of Turkish food with lots and lots of beef/mutton usage in every dish.
THE STAPLE FOODS
Here at Sulaiman, their menu is organized into 5 parent categories: rice, handmade pulled noodle, wok/stir-fry dishes, roast/grilled dishes, and toasted bread. These are mainly the staple of Xinjiang cuisine, so I didn’t waste my time by sampling each of these specialties. So let's dig in! You'll know which one's my favorite easily.
P.S: Thanks to this blog for the knowledge of the Uyghur food terms.
Overall, my first experience on Xinjiang cuisine at Sulaiman was satisfying enough. Satay, fried rice, lamian – it’s like I’m already familiar with the whole menu, but their interpretation of each of it always took me by surprises. Looking forward to having my future visit.
Whenever you're feeling adventurous, give it a try. Who knows, right?
UPDATE OCTOBER 2013
I went to Sulaiman again as promised, and here’s what I had:
Oh and did I tell you this time I also get to meet Sulaiman himself? Most of the time he’s always on the grill station, making sure that every Roast Mutton Satay goes out perfectly charred, and seasoned well to perfection. This guy gave me a really sweet smile :) Great restaurant you have there, Sir! I’m a happy customer.
Sulaiman Restaurant: Chinese Muslim
Jl. Wahid Hasyim No. 116 Menteng Jakarta Pusat
Restaurant has moved to Jl. Batu Ceper Raya No.73 – Jakarta Pusat (behind Pasar Baru) You can contact by phone before going there: 085883471336 / 081229725281