Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Afanti Uyghur Restaurant for Dinner

Afanti Uyghur Restaurant
5/95 Mains Road, Sunnybank

I'd known about Uyghur cuisine for a while but didn't know that's what it was called or much about the culture behind it. In China I often saw people selling lamb skewers who looked sort of Chinese but slightly not. Uyghur people are of Turkic decent and amongst other things, they make bloody good lamb skewers. I would have thought this was an obscure type of food to bring to Brisbane but I was excited to learn that Uyghur cuisine is a trend that may soon break mainstream.

I saw some posts about Afanti Restaurant on Instagram by a fellow Brisbane foodie and that's what initially sparked my interest. Add the fact that these past couple of weeks in Brisbane have been bitingly cold so the thought of hot and spicy food was very, very appealing. We arranged to have dinner at Afanti last Friday night.

In my ignorance I figured that not many people would know of this restaurant and hence I wouldn't need to make s booking. They are actually very popular, so it's yet another example of how I manage to be a food blogger who's always behind the times. There were some outdoor tables available but even with the gas heater on, it was too chilly so we opted to wait for a table inside.

The inside dining space is small, which is a shame for Afanti because in the time we were waiting, so many others came to ask for a table that I feel their success is limited by the physical shop space. We ended up as a group of 6 squishing around a table set for 4.

The menu, to me, is extremely exciting. I loved that I didn't know what any of the dishes were and had to read descriptions and refer to pictures to find out. They have an English section to the menu as well as Chinese characters. Whilst I'm on that topic, I'll note that the staff also spoke mandarin.

We decided to order a few items as a group and share.

Yoghurt drink

The first thing to arrive was actually our jug of yoghurt beverage. There was the option for savoury or sweet and we went for sweet. I would describe the actual taste as more neutral though. I like drinking yoghurt so I liked this from the start but some others in the group were less enthusiastic. Jaws outright disliked it so Mork and I stole his glass. It wasn't until the food was brought out that I appreciated just how appropriate it is to have a yoghurt beverage when eating spicy food. Every tongue-tingling mouthful was easily neutralised by a sip of yoghurt drink. Perfecto!

Big pot of chicken

Our 'da pan ji' literally translates to 'big pot of chicken' and boy was it a wonderful sight to behold. Firstly it was massive, which is to be expected because it's recommended for serving 3-4 people. I love the sight of large vats of food. It must be the starving peasant girl inside me but I prefer giant bowls full of food to measly French morsels any day.

Closer view

Not only was there chicken in this dish (cooked wonderfully tender and soaked with flavour) but also potato, hand cut noodles and lots of spices and herbs. It was so flavoursome and the whole dish packed a decent amount of heat. It was perfect for such a cold night. I tasted some of the spicy broth on its own and even enjoyed that. It had a great depth of flavour.

Cumin lamb belly skewers

Our lamb skewers came next. These are served in lots of 5 so we ordered 2 serves. The smell of them was amazing and when I went back to finish my chicken noodles before looking up to grab a skewer, they were all gone. All gone!! I had to wait for the next batch to taste some and it was just as good as I imagined. The meat were tender and the cumin rub was fragrant and delicious. I spent the whole weekend after this meal craving lamb skewers.

Lamb meat pies

The lamb meat pies was something I was very curious about. They definitely had a homemade look to them. The filling is a savoury mince and the wrapping is like a cross between dumpling skin and pastry.

Bite shot

I really liked this although it could have benefited from a yoghurt dip. Jenny thought hers was too salty though and couldn't finish it.

Stir-fried green beans

Our final dish of the day was stir fried green beans. These were delicious also with the beans being at once vibrantly green but also cooked through and flavoursome. When I try to cook beans like this they turn grey. There's a mainland Chinese dish that's like this but I found the Uyghur version to be more garlicky.

Marc and I loved our dinner at Afanti Uyghur Restaurant. As he kept reminding me multiple times throughout the meal, this type of food is right up our alley. There's all the saucy flavours of Chinese cuisine with added spice and heat from the Middle eastern influences. I liked everything we tasted and can't wait to go back for more.
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