Shanghai's best Xinjiang restaurant

Shanghai's best Xinjiang restaurant

Singing, dancing and a whole lot of lamb. Xinjiang dining isn’t food, it's an experience

Recommended: Xibo

CNNGo best eats Xinjiang -- XiboXibo gives Xinjiang cuisine an image overhaul. Order extra bread with the lamb with pumpkin to soak up the stewed goodness.

Xibo is the classiest Xinjiang restaurant in Shanghai. The space could double for a wine bar.

“I like the more refined food and image they’re serving up,” says magazine food reviewer Peipei Yang. “It’s interesting, and Xinjiang cuisine could definitely use the image overhaul.”

In addition to standard hits like da pan ji, a spicy dish of boneless chicken and potatoes that falls apart in your mouth, this new restaurant serves traditional food of the Xibo minority, a group descended from Manchu archers who migrated to Xinjiang hundreds of years ago.

Our experts like the signature braised lamb with stewed pumpkin.

Yang seconds a recommendation for the steamed pumpkin dumplings.

The terrace is one of Shanghai's better outdoor drinking spots.

Xibo, 3/F, 83 Changshu Lu, near Julu Lu 常熟路83号3楼, 近巨鹿路, +86 21 5403 8330, hours: noon to midnight

Click "Next" to find more of Shanghai's best Xinjiang food.

Recommended: Sapar Uygur Restaurant

CNNGo best eats Xinjiang -- Sapar Uygur RestaurantThe kebabs at Sapar are lean, flavorful and crispy. Pair them with a Xinjiang black beer and your meal is complete.

The interior style may be "ornate tacky," but at Sapar Uygur Restaurant, the food is always delicious.

The da pan ji -- a big platter of chicken and potatoes -- packs a serious hit of spice.

In addition to heat, Sapar's da pan chicken is also full of big pieces of tender chicken, potato and fresh noodles.

Grilled kebabs and lamb chops are always a good choice here. The kebabs are lean, flavorful and crispy while the lamb chops are tender and well-seasoned -- almost as good as Yeshari's, but without the wait.

Sapar Uygur Restaurant, 20 Yuyuan Lu, near Wulumuqi Lu 愚园路20号, 近乌鲁木齐路, +86 136 1160 3279, hours: 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Click "Next" to find more of Shanghai's best Xinjiang food.

Recommended: Xinjiang Flavor Restaurant

CNNGo best eats Xinjiang -- Xinjiang Flavor RestaurantXinjiang Flavor Restaurant treats mutton like no other.

Xinjiang Flavor Restaurant is more obsessed with mutton than any other Xinjiang place in the city.

Come prepared for lots of noise -- your waiter might start a dance party in the middle of reciting your order -- and lots of well-prepared lamb. Lots. user Demon 7 says: “The lamb leg and whole roasted lamb are very delicious. The meat is very, very tender. I just want to rip into the roasted lamb meat with my hands and stuff my face with big mouthfuls.”

We agree.

Xinjiang Flavor Restaurant, 280 Yishan Lu, near Nandan Lu 宜山路280号, 近南丹路, +86 21 6468 9198, hours, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Click "Next" to find Shanghai's best Xinjiang restaurant.

Winner: Yeshari

CNNGo best eats Xinjiang -- YeshariIf you get to Yeshari after 6:30 p.m., chances are their famous lamb chops will be gone. Console yourself with the equally famous homemade yogurt and ding ding noodles.

The best Xinjiang food in Shanghai still comes with impromptu bursts of song, belly dancing and fake fruit garlands.

Xibo might be making a commendable effort to change the typical Xinjiang dining experience from chaotic to classy, but it's still Yeshari the city turns to for top Xinjiang fare.

Upon arrival, the first trial is to wade through the tables of diners making meals of the da pan ji -- spicy chicken with potatoes -- and bottles of black Sinkang Beer.

Once seated, order Yeshari's freshly lamb kebabs (RMB 3 each) -- they are some of the tastiest in Shanghai. Each skewer impales tender, spiced cubes of lamb alternating with crispy nubs of lamb fat.

“These are hands down the best lamb kebabs in Shanghai," says Zhang Hong, self-proclaimed local foodie, who has tried just about every lamb kabab in Shanghai. "I keep coming back to Yeshari for these.”

The ding ding noodles, a Xinjiang dish of finely chopped noodles sauteed with tomato and green peppers, are also stuff food legends are made of.

Another must-try are the fatty baked lamb chops. These tender baked chops typically run out in the first hour of dinner service, and always before 6:30 p.m. A little early for dinner, but these lamb chops are worth it.

Yeshari Xinjiang Restaurant, 106 Nandandong Lu, near Tianyaoqiao Lu 南丹东路106号, 近天钥桥路, +86 21 6468 6079, hours: 11 a.m to 10 p.m.

Meet the experts who helped us choose Shanghai's Best Eats.

Full Best Eats list and winners
Joanne Yao is a writer and editor based in Shanghai.
Read more about Joanne Yao