This venue has closed.
This stylish newcomer evokes inevitable comparisons to Xibo, the forerunner in elevating the often rough-edged Xinjiang restaurant into a subtler, more sophisticated dining experience. In decor, Spice Bazaar, from the folks behind fish and chip shop The Sailors
, is less artsy and conceptual than Xibo
but still successful in creating a modernist Xinjiang-esque atmosphere. There are hanging tapestries, an inlaid red brick bar and weathered wooden chairs and tables.
The food is equally simple and approachable; a one-page menu holds few surprises. Mint salad (28RMB) is refreshing with a vinegar dressing and a few almonds dotting the top. The leaves taste just-picked fresh but the almonds have a stale texture and aren’t crunchy enough. A quick oven roast would greatly improve them.
The ‘chopped noodles with bean paste and vegetables’ (the classic dingding noodles, 36RMB) are just serviceable. The noodles have the right al dente chew and the sauce has plenty of fresh celery but it’s lacking the round meaty notes and thick tomato sweetness of the best dingding specimens. Also just passable are the lamb skewers (10RMB each), which are a rather skinny five bites. Surprisingly, the chicken skewers (10RMB) are juicier and richer in flavour, also seasoned with the traditional chili and cumin spice mix.
One winning dish worth returning for is the braised lamb with Uygur bread (69RMB), a tender pile of lamb that yields to the tooth yet still has a satisfying pull-apart chewiness. The ribs are piled up on a round of nang bread and doused in a spicy thick gravy with onion and green pepper.
Ultimately, this is a comfortable and affordable venue for those who prefer a more placid approach to Xinjiang dining.