Charcoal Kebab House, Traditional Uyghur Food from Northwest China
Charcoal Kebab House offers a unique style of cuisine from a region in China called Xinjiang. The region lies on the borders of ex-Soviet Central Asia, India and Pakistan. People of this region, the predominantly Muslim people of Uyghur (pronounced: wee-gur), are known for their specialty of traditional hand pulled noodles (Langman) and charcoal grilled kebab skewers.
I get giddy when I find this sort of place, a perfect balance of taste, service and ambiance — void of commercialism, fad or hype. It’s not just food it’s a people and a history rich in culture.
As soon as I enter I met Avi, Charcoal Kebab House owner. He is also the front end manager who makes sure his patrons are comfortable, engages in conversation and welcomes everyone who walks in.
Avi hands me a menu, while Charcoal Kebab House server, dressed in traditional Uyghur attire, pours water and offers hot tea. I’m pleased to see it’s a very small menu — another bonus in my book. I know what I want but take the Avi’s recommendation as well and decide on Manta, Spicy Fried Noodles and Lamb Skewers with naan.
Uyghur Manta is known as Mantu in Afghanistan. Since these regions are close together, there are a lot of similarities. Avi jokes however, that their Manta is the real deal and points out that their dumpling shell is much sturdier and a neater package to eat overall.
The Spicy Fried Noodle comes out and before it hits the table, my mouth is watering. This seriously rivals any Asian noodle dish we’ve had before. The flavour is intense but not overwhelming — and the spices, textures and taste keep each bite interesting. You can clean the plate feeling satisfied and full. I’ll be back for more!
The lamb skewers were also great — I’m big on meat and like the taste of lamb personally. I can see chicken being a better option though for people who aren’t lamb fans. Uyghur naan is pretty interesting as well. Order a couple extra because they’re smaller than Pakistani naan.
Cumin is a staple spice — and is what is used in most dishes, grilled skewers especially. So you’ll find this to be a common fragrance of most dishes and the “it factor” when it comes to Charcoal Kebab House.
With a completely halal menu, no pork or alcohol being served, a prayer area downstairs and deliciously unique cuisine, Charcoal Kebab House is a must try for anyone who lives or visits Toronto.
I highly recommend their Spicy Fried Noodle – and if you’re not a lamb fan, go for their chicken skewers. And my Afghan friends — give their manta a try, you can tell us which version is better!
For a look inside their cozy little spot, check out their YouTube video!
Meat Source: Beef and chicken are from Bombay Bazaar (hand slaughtered sources). Lamb is from Mr. Greek Meat Market’s Supplier Department (HMA certified ).
Charcoal Kebab House
3256 Lawrence Ave East, Scarborough