49 Camberwell Church St
London SE5 8TR
Big plate chicken: £15
Dumplings: £2.50 for ten
Skewers: £5 for four
Tsingtao beer: £2
Only takes cash.
Ask most people what a Uighur is, and they will look at you funny. Ask most people what Chinese food is, and they'll mention General Tso's chicken, sweet-and-sour pork, or another dish in a gloopy orange sauce. Luckily, a trip to Silk Road will improve your cultural and culinary knowledge. A restaurant run by people from China's Xinjiang region, the people of which are known as Uighurs, serves to emphasise the diversity within Chinese food. You will not find any of the standard dishes available at your local Chinese takeaway. Instead, meat is flavoured with spices that echo the Uighurs' Central Asian roots - the skewers are not dissimilar to Middle Eastern kebabs.
Meat is Silk Road's forte. You can get it on skewers, in dumplings, with noodles, or in stews. It can be chicken, beef or lamb, and it can be spicy or mild, but it's best to become a carnivore for a couple of hours (especially since a friend said that the vegetarian TEP Noodles dish was one of the more disgusting foods she had ever experienced).
The real star is the big or medium plate chicken. A stew of chicken and potatoes cooked to tenderness in a sweetly fiery soup, the waiter comes and dumps a couple of handfuls of peppery belt-like noodles into the remaining sauce. The big plate chicken is a feast for four, but is incredibly reasonably priced at £15. Although none of Silk Road's dishes are expensive, the big plate chicken is an especially good bargain.
The skewers of hot and spicy cubes of lamb and fat, which are brought sizzling to the table, are another stand-out dish. The lamb and onion dumplings, eaten with vinegary soy sauce and chillies, are solid and hearty, providing a substantial starter for £2.50. We wanted to try more dishes, but after these three we were too full and satisfied, a testament to both the quality and quantity of Silk Road's cooking.