Bill Ma cooks the food of his people, the Hui. Lao Hui Min would be completely invisible if it wasn’t for its reputation among Sydney’s Xinjiangese population. It’s basic and unadorned, it doesn’t have a website, there is no phone and it’s unpredictably either loudly bustling, or completely quiet.

Xinjiang, China’s most north-western province, is where a large portion of the Islamic Hui people live. The cuisine is based on meat and wheat-based carbohydrates and almost every dish has either one or all of five ingredients: lamb, bread, noodles, capsicum and cumin. Lao Hui Min’s Xinjiang-style noodles is a classic example. The chewy, soft noodles are stir-fried in a savoury tomato reduction with lamb, shallots, onion and capsicum. The noodles, made with a simple mix of water, salt and wheat flour are prepared daily and hand stretched to order. It’s simple, satisfying and an excellent representative of a humble and hearty cuisine.

There is also the lamb kebab. Lao Hui Min’s is cooked traditionally on a skewer over charcoals with a coarse dusting of cumin, pepper and salt.

Dapanji translate literally to “big plate chicken”. It consists of potato, capsicum, tomato, garlic, Sichuan pepper and chicken, all stir-fried and then stewed in a giant bowl or wok. Lao Hui Min’s version is enormous and comes with thin, wide-belt noodles and moist chicken pieces. For a true Xinjiang get it with sides of crispy pancakes and thin-skinned dumplings filled with mutton, cumin and shallots.

Updated: March 13th, 2018

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