Shanghai Day 1: A muslim friendly restaurant in Shanghai town – Yakexi Restaurant for Xinjiang fare

It is difficult to get out of bed if not for the temptation of breakfast 🙂

Courtyard by Marriott Shanghai Puxi- Rebeccasaw-047

We landed at 12.30am on 20th February and only left the airport at about 1:15am after waiting for everyone to clear immigration. We finally arrived at Courtyard by Marriot, Puxi after another 1 hour on the road. Sleep was well after 3am!

The very next morning, after a quick breakfast at our hotel; Courtyard by Marriot, Puxi Shanghai (blog post next), our next itinerary was lunch. Yes, it may sound crazy but it isn’t because the majority of us opted to sleep late and skipped breakfast, though obviously NOT me. 🙂

We had a guide and a coach bus arranged for us throughout our Shanghai trip. Here’s Alex, our witty, wonderful and patient guide!

Air asia x - shanghai - Rebecca Saw blog

As the bus pulled out of the parking from our hotel, I eagerly scanned our surroundings. For many (it not all) of us, it was our first real-life visual of Shanghai city. The street weren’t as dirty as I had thought (I blame that perception on what I read and was told by friends about China) and were actually rather picturesque at some parts.

Air asia x - shanghai - Rebecca Saw blog-001

But at some parts mayhap a bit “too picturesque”. We were shocked at the liberal display of clothes and undergarments outside of windows, buildings and on trees. The Chinese deemed anywhere with the remote chance of sunshine appropriate for airing their clothes.

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There will be many more of these pictures over the next few posts as I will be narrating my Shanghai trip so don’t be startled yea! 🙂

Lunch was at a Muslim friendly restaurant in Xikang Lu, Jing’an District, about 15 mins coach ride from our hotel. Alighting from the coach, we were perplexed to see a “naan” stall right in front of the restaurant; though it did provide a good theatrics distraction.

Yakexi restaurant - shanghai restaurant

And the belly dancing Uyghur dancers poster and the Turkish looking dude flipping naan bread did got us disoriented for a while.

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But media being media, we couldn’t resist poking around and shoving our cameras into the oven and his face to snap some shots.

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But the cold didn’t keep us outside for long. We sought the warmth of the restaurant after a few shots.

Air asia x - shanghai - Rebecca Saw blog

The decor seems to be a mix of Chinese (round banquet tables and chopsticks for cutlery) and Malay/Arabic (the arches and the colours of gold and green with mosaic patterned walls). There were even a small stage at the front of the dining area.

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Shanghai - AAX - rebeccasaw

Apparently, Yakexi Restaurant is a restaurant with live traditional song and dance performances in the evening.
It serves Xinjiang cuisine (Chinese: ç»ŽćŸć°”èœ) which reflects the cooking styles of many ethnic groups of the Xinjiang region, and refers particularly to Uyghur cuisine. Because of the Islamic population, the food is predominantly halal (Wikipedia).

Since it was our first day in Shanghai, we had a shock when we were presented with so many dishes at one meal. However, over the course of the next few days, we got used to it.

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Xinjiang fare is mostly mutton, beef, fish, chicken and rice. A popular dish is skewered meat alike kebabs. The meats are topped with seasonings of chili powder, black pepper and god knows what else but really really finger-licking good!

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The “naan” bread we saw outside turned out to be a traditional Xinjiang bread (coincidentally named “Naang” )  that’s spiced, toasted and cooked up to be eaten with lamb and mutton.

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Another basket was served hot, fluffy and crisp on the sides. This was addictive!

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Equally good was the fries. Yes, fries. In fact, the prawns were secondary players on this plate.

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More breads (but soft chinese mantous) came with more meat.

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In Shanghai, common ingredients are cabbage, broccoli, taufu (of many textures and kinds) and wood fungus. Sometimes they are served as individual dish, sometimes all combined together as one.

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And here’s the all-in-one; a piquant, savoury sweet “stew” with meat. Delicious!

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This was akin our sweet and sour pork, except that it wasn’t pork.

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For an idea of the taste of this, you’re not far off if your guess is somewhere along the lines of Korean hot pot, though the use of spices are not exactly similar.

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The last dish was a complex sourish, sweet, savoury with a hint of heat (from chilli) fish dish. This was certainly new to all of us and those who tried it loved it.

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I was disappointed at first (though it was expected) to know that all our meals are either halal or pork-free since this is a media group with some Muslims on board. But our meals in Shanghai was all delicious and adeptly prepared; though some were common Chinese dishes, but that was balanced with some rather unusual ones. However, I won’t say it’s all entirely Shanghainese cuisine that we had, but we were well fed with delicious food throughout our trip. More posts coming up next! 🙂

Yakexi restaurant,
379 Xikang Lu, near Wuding Lu (è„żćș·è·Ż379ć·, èż‘æ­Šćźšè·Ż). Tel: (0)21-6267- 3755. Hours: 11:30am-10pm, daily
By train: Near Wuding Lu, Metro Line 2 Jing’an Temple Station

Shanghai - AAX - rebeccasaw-003

** This is a media trip with the Air Asia X team together with media from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. We were in Shanghai for the Air Asia X inaugural Shanghai flight launch and had the good fortune to explore Shanghai for 5D4N.

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. Sean

    wow, this is quite a sumptuous feast. even just a few bites of each dish would be enough to make me stuffed, i think! 😀

    1. rebeccasaw

      This is the kind of feast that suits you totally Sean!

  2. ALAN

    Every single dish looks delicious. Presumably though, you could not have a glass of wine to go with each sample or dish. The last stew dish would be well accompanied by a deep Shiraz !!
    I look forward to the next absorbing installment Beck.

    1. rebeccasaw

      Thanks Alan! Actually this place sells alcohol! Hahahaha. Live entertainment and drinks to match in the evenings. They dont label the resto halal but muslim friendly. Anyhow everything is in chinese and hte staff doesnt speak any other languages other than Mandarin so I can’t really interview them!

  3. ulric

    Naan with well-marinated meat…ahhhhhhhh! =)

  4. Jonathan

    Another adventure to wackybecky’s exploits of the world!

  5. leela

    That’s not a bellydancer on the poster,that’s a Uyghur dancer. Not the same thing at all.

    1. rebeccasaw

      Thank you Leela! Noted and wil amend accordingly! 🙂

  6. Choi Yen

    The restaurant very “gold” wor… n the food was quite oily from your photo..

    1. rebeccasaw

      Gold for muslim I think? Gold also a popular chinese colour kan?
      It’s alright actually. I’m very sensitive to salt & oil and I didn’t have a had time eating the dishes.

  7. Muchang

    Everything on that table looks delicious

    1. rebeccasaw

      It is it is! Barely felt the missing pork! And fascinating to taste different cuisine from different areas although it is still within the same country!

  8. Azuan

    Awesome. This would be useful for people like me who are quite picky when it comes to food during travel. Finding muslim-friendly/halal food in non-english speaking countries can be quite a challenge hehe

    1. rebeccasaw

      Oh really? You travel so much so I had thought you would be very easy-going with your dietary requirements when you’re on the go since some countries really have pork predominantly on their menu!

  9. Josh

    Great post and beautiful pictures! I lived in Xinjiang for about 4 years so I appreciate this food more than you know. Thanks for the “review” of this restaurant which I’ll have to try next time I’m in Shanghai.

    As a side note…it’s technically not “belly dancing” with these ladies. It’s a special Uyghur dance and I know plenty of dancers who would be offended by calling it belly dancing. Ha!

    1. rebeccasaw

      Right! Hahaha ok ok amending 😛
      Thks for the comment and wow you live in Xinjiang for 4 years??? How’s the lifestyle there I wonder!

      1. Josh

        The lifestyle is awesome! I love the fact that there are two different cultures, with two very distinct types of food. I have no doubt this restaurant in Shanghai is good, but I can promise you that if you get a chance to travel out here and eat the “real deal”…you’ll be blown away!

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