Famous Local Food
Hotan is one of the best cities in the region to sample authentic Xinjiang cuisine and there are literally thousands of tiny Uighur restaurants dotted about the place serving up local specialties.
The area around the Evening Bazaar is a lively district to begin your culinary adventures. The streets around here and near Long Distance Bus Station are full of Uighur restaurants serving local specialties including mutton kebabs, Nan bread stew, Uighur rice, roast fish and noodles. One of the most gourmet dishes of Uighur cuisine is whole roast lamb, a rare treat only found at Uighur celebrations and special occasions.
Famous Local Dishes
Roast lamb might just qualify as a pinnacle of Xinjiang Uighur cuisine. The roast lamb is very expensive as the main ingredient is a whole lamb and it is reserved for special occasions like receiving honored guests.
First, a large, fat lamb is chosen, slaughtered, and its skin is completely removed. Then the lamb is cleaned and salt is brushed on the inside and outside of the lamb. The lamb is covered with a mixture of egg, green onion, pepper and other spices including cumin (ziran in Chinese). When all of these steps are completed, the lamb is put into a hot pit to roast. On certain special occasions, the roast lamb is cooked with a piece of red silk covering its head and coriander or celery stuffed in its mouth. When fully roasted, which takes at least an hour, the meat is sliced up and served. The flavor of the roast lamb is unforgettable and it is comparable with Beijing roast duck.
Famous Local Snacks
Baked Mutton Kebabs
Baked Mutton Kebabs (Kaoyangrouchuan) can be found anywhere on the streets of any city or small market town throughout Xinjiang. Migrants from Xinjiang have made these kebabs famous throughout the rest of China's major cities but naturally, the best, most authentic kebabs are only available in Xinjiang.
Anyone who has traveled throughout China has seen the kebab vendors with their long metal stands filled with hot embers and a pile of uncooked meat on sticks. The mutton is cooked over the heat with the vendor fanning the embers to quicken cooking. The kebabs are then seasoned with spice powder (either spicy or not spicy) and served. One kebab is not more than a mouthful. Prices can range from between RMB1 to RMB2 per kebab.
We call this dish 'Uigur Rice', but its name in Chinese is Zhuafan. In English, this actually means 'grabbed rice' for the fact that you can eat it with your hands. The main ingredients are rice cooked in mutton broth with spring onion, carrot, and a piece of mutton (or beef, chicken, duck meat instead) placed on top of the rice. Sometimes, raisins or almonds are also added for a little extra flavor. This dish is actually quite rich, but its richness gives it an undeniably delicious flavor. The Uighur Rice will not only fill you up, it'll give you lots of energy and leave a delicious aftertaste in your mouth.
Popularly known as muskmelon, enjoys the same prestige as Turpan grapes. The Hami melon has a yellow or light green skin, covered with thin lines. The fruit itself is white, light green or orange. There are more than 20 kinds of Hami melon including the Black Eyebrow, Golden Dragon and Yellow Pear. Among these, the Hongxicui (literally Red-Heart Tendency) is the tastiest, famed for its thick, sweet, tender and delicious fruit.
Lamian Noodles, known in Chinese as Lamian or Lamiantiao are popular with many ethnic groups both in Xinjiang and the rest of China. The name 'Lamian' means 'pulled noodles'. The noodle dough is pulled in a special way to create thinner and thinner strings of dough, and finally, noodles! Then the noodles are boiled quickly and various ingredients are added, including oil, mutton pieces, cooked tomato and chili peppers. Sometimes the noodles are stir-fried along with these ingredients, which can only be described as a totally different, yet equally delicious taste
For your reference, the following are the restaurants rated most popular by the locals:
Address: No. 14, south Ulumqi road, Hotan
Red star Restaurant
Address: No. 11, west Beijing road, Hotan
Address: No. 28, west Beijing road, Hotan
Address: No. 23, Hotan road, Hotan
Address: No. 22, Hotan road, Hotan
Address: south Tanaiti road, Hotan
Address: south Tanaiyi road, Hotan
Address: gulubake road, Hotan