Food in Urumqi
Food is one of the things for which Xinjian is famous. Fresh naan, spicy kababs, steaming pilaf or famous hand stretched noodles — there are a lot of choices and lots of variety.
Qosh Amet, Konsulhana St (Follow the street between the large Arman Supermarket and the huge Mosque at the end of Yan'an Lu). For perhaps the best Dapan ji in town -- a famous Hui dish (literally "Big Plate of Chicken"), head to Konsulhana Kochisi (near the large mosque across from the north end of Yan'an Lu) where you'll find Qosh Amet. For those who don't know Uyghur, simply look for the large English sign that reads "Chicken Food" and head on in. It's a three-story restaurant with a singular focus. The only choice you have to make is if you want a Zhongpan ji or dapan ji (Zhong being smaller, suitable for 2-3 people). A larger plate will cost 60 yuan, and is served with a side of noodles.
A good local Chinese chain is Shunming, serving Uyghur and Chinese food for a reasonable price. They are open twenty four hours and have several locations around town including at the People's Square and the People's Theater.
Vegan Yuanqi Vegetarian Restaurant, 2 Altay Rd, +86 0991-8735001/8487563. A Buddhist restaurant located near the junction of Altay Road and Xinyi Road. Walk about 200 metres north from the jucntion. On the left side of the road stands a big apartment block with two buildings. Restaurant is located 50 m inside a little alley between A and B wings. The staff are charming but speak no English, the menu is entirely in Chinese. edit
Another option is fast food, which has become increasingly popular in the last few years. KFC restaurants have sprung up all around town and are located at the Grand Bazaar, People's Square, Hongshan, and the Children's Park among other locations. There are also two Pizza Huts, located at Zhongshan Rd. and Youhao Shopping Mall and several smaller Chinese fast food chains--specifically Dicos & Fast Food Burgers (also known as Roast King).
In town there are several mid-range options available for western food.
Rendezvous, 960 Yan'an Rd (right by the Silk Road Hotel, on the 16, 63,106 and 912 bus routes), +86 0991 255-5003. 11:00-22:00. American-run. Also offers an excellent breakfast menu (at the moment only on the weekends) and their wraps are delicious. Some of the cheapest Western food in Urumqi.
The Texas Cafe, Nanmen Mashixiaoqu (near Nanmen down the grapevine covered alley across from the south entrance to the computer market), +86 0991 281-0025. 1PM-11PM. A Tex-Mex and classic American cafe. For comfort food try their fajita plates or tacos. They've got refried beans and homemade taco shells. The place is decorated with a lot of Texas memorabilia and it's somewhat of an Tex-Mex oasis in Xinjiang. Also, they have a good selection of English books. ¥25-55.
The buffet at the China Southern Airlines Hotel is an ideal place to splurge. The head Chef is Austrian, and the food is very authentic Western fare, with some local dishes as well. Dinner costs ¥88 plus 15%, and includes tea, coffee and a glass of red wine. The buffet at the Urumqi Sheraton ought to be rather good. ¥230.
Korgan, (Next to the Grand Bazaar in Erdaoqiao). Luxuriously decorated Uyghur restaurant. Very good Uyghur food if somewhat inflated prices.
Local restaurants are available throughout the city, although most Uyghur restaurants are concentrated in Erdaoqiao, around the Grand Bazaar - there are plenty of restaurants on the street behind the mosque offering a nice alternative to standard Chinese cuisine. A standard price for a plate of hand-streched noodles with vegetable meat topping (laghman) is about 9 Yuan - if you are still hungry, you can request more noodles. Melon slices also make an excellent snack, at about 1 rmb a slice from a street vendor. Among other common Uyghur foods are dumplings of mutton and onions (samsa), Uyghur fried rice (polo), dumpling soup (chuchura), meat pies (Gush Nan) and Opke Hessip (lungs and stuffed intestines) for the brave. Local specialty drinks include Kawas (carbonated drink flavoured with honey) and Dogh (a mixture of crushed ice, yoghurt and honey available in summer). The best known Hui dish is big plate chicken, a spicy mixture of chicken and potatoes.
Bodun, 42 Heping Rd N (5 min S of People's Sq). Delicious and cheap Uyghur staples. Good location in the city centre.
Avral, 60 Shengli Rd (In Erdaoqiao, across from large mosque). Delicious and finely decorated, Avral is also well known for its Uyghur ice cream (marozhni). This location is currently undergoing renovation, but their ice cream is served at restaurants.
Hui and Uyghur food can be very spicy, and it is a good idea unless you like very spicy food to tell them "búyào là de" or for Uyghurs "kizil mooch salmang!".
One warning before you go out and get local food though. Not everyone can stay healthy eating Uyghur and Hui food. Often it is cooked with a large amount of oil. Sanitary conditions are also perhaps not what you would have expected. If you have a weak stomach or gall bladder problems it might be a good idea to try some of the other options. Or just stick to naan and kebab.
Take care if you are considering going to one of the restaurants next to the Grand Market. They will quite happily give you a 'tourist menu' where every dish is priced at over 1,000 yen. You can get similar and just as nice food at other restaurants in the nearby streets for a fraction of that price.