Omar's Xinjiang Halal | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

Omar's Xinjiang Halal

photo by Anne Fishbein

No matter what hour you visit Omar’s Xinjiang Halal, it can feel as though you’ve stumbled in during staff meal, when the large Islamic Chinese family that runs the joint sits polishing off strands of chewy hand-pulled noodles or a bowl of creamy house-cultured yogurt. The reality is that Omar’s is as much domestic dining room to regulars as it is restaurant, serving Islamic Uyghur cooking from China’s northernmost tip, which is as emphatic on heavily spiced lamb and thick flour noodles as perhaps any cuisine on Earth. It might appear strange, then, that the literally translated “big plate chicken” acts as the centerpiece on almost every table, a mesmerizing chile-powered, beer-spiked stew heavy with chunks of bone-in chicken, peppers and soft potatoes. But why not? It’s pretty much the Platonic ideal of family-style — and here, it’s hard to not feel familial.— Garrett Snyder