Lunch Quickie: The New Efendi Uyghur on Kingsway

The old Efendi Uyghur at 1345 Kingsway (near Knight) was only open for about a year but received great feedback (like this Alexandra Gill review). Unfortunately, they had to close the restaurant due to the mother’s health issues. The space got sold and turned into House of Dosas nemesis, Dosa Factory. I didn’t get a chance to check out Efendi the first time, but thanks to “el lobo solo” on Chowhound, I learned that it’s back in a new, smaller location further east at 3490 Kingsway (same tiny stripmall as Subway).

The family unit is back in action! The parents work the kitchen and the daughter Mina is great as the FOH. I actually wanted to try their very Persian/Turkish-looking “Kebab with Rice Set” but she actually steered me away from that towards something more special… So she’s obviously proud of her Uyghur heritage.

There’s a condensed menu printed on paper…

…the reverse contains the entire menu.

But on every table is the menu with pictures. Mina told me that the menu is basically the same, minus some of the more labour-intensive dishes that were hard for her mom to execute, physically, like the plain handpulled noodles with toppings, and the large cuts of lamb. The Alexandra Gill review does reference some dishes I don’t recognize on this new menu, so those must be it.

At my first glance, the menu contains a mixture of northern Chinese dishes that I sorta know, mixed with Middle Eastern dishes like kebabs. The Steam Buns look like Xioa Long Bao, but I know other regions also have similar-looking dumpling dishes (e.g. Georgian khinkali dumplings are interesting to look at).

More of the menu.

A corner of the interior. The room only seats about ~26 people. I sat for about 25 minutes waiting for takeout and when I got home, I noticed my clothes smelled, even though it’s not a “stinky” kind of food.

Colourful touches.

Steam Buns ($10, 4 pcs). Looks like a very rustic XLB. Black pepper on top.

I *think* these are filled with lamb. No soup inside, so they’re not supposed to be a replication of XLB. The skin is similar though. The meat inside was quite chewy and gristly…not entirely a bad thing though. I like them but don’t love them.

Uyghur Style Lamb Skewers ($10).

Cumin and chili. Good flavour but again the meat was gristly and chewy. Some pieces were tender. They’re not afraid of gristle here.

Uyghur Style Rice Pilaf ($14.99 for small). Lots of carrot and covered with raisins.

Several chunks of lamb buried in the rice. The rice was a nicely prepared basmati, similar to Persian preparations I’ve had but without any saffron. I can say that there *is* flavour, but I can’t pinpoint exactly what flavour. Mildly seasoned and rather “natural” tasting. It’s been ages since I had raisins in my rice, so while I didn’t find it irksome, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of raisins in rice.

I’m open to visiting again in a small group (it’ll have to be small, considering the size of the place) and try some other dishes. The “Big Plate Chicken” in particular looks worthy but a bit expensive at $29.99 for a small, $39.99 for a large, but other people sitting at the restaurant made it look good.

So right now I’m on the fence, but my back is turned to the street.

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