Intizar is a Chinese restaurant in International City that specialises in the cuisine of the Xinjiang province, an autonomous territory in northwest China and home to many ethnic minority groups, including the Turkic Uyghur people. Calling this restaurant Chinese is correct but misleading because there is no chicken chow mein served here, no kung pao prawns or beef broccoli oyster. Xinjiang food is mainly roasted mutton, kebabs, fish and rice. And the most pronounced spice is cumin, not five spice. The restaurant is located in Building F05 of the China Cluster International City, Dubai’s unofficial China Town.
There are so many dishes one should try. My favourites include Uyghur polo or “rice pilaf”. If you know Central Asian cuisine you will immediately see the similarity between Kabuli Polo, Uzbek Plov and Uyghur Polo – common to all are shredded carrots mixed in with rice and topped with pieces of fatty mutton. Intizar’s version is fantastic. Another must-have is their short skewered mutton kababs, called Kawap. Dusted in a rub of ground cumin, red pepper and God-only-knows-what-else, they are unique, to say the least. The only downside is that, no matter what you do or say, they end up overcooking them.
Uyghur pulled noodles, known as Lagman, are another must-try. Thick as udon noodles, they are full-bodied and chewy. Try the Gan Ban Mian (literally translated as ‘dried mixed noodles’) – they’re really good, especially if you like your noodles a little spicy. The same can be had as a soup (which we also tried). It differs from other Chinese soups because of the strong taste of tomato. If, like me, soup is your thing then you might also want to consider their Hun Tun or dumpling soup – it’s a meal on its own and quite delicious.
There are a number of Turkic Uyghur restaurants in International City, most notably As’salam which is also in the China Cluster and not far from Intizar. It’s the restaurant Chef Yari left Intizar to set up. That said, I prefer Intizar to As’salam. If you’re looking to expand your Chinese palate, want to try something different or simply want to have the best Uyghur food in Dubai, this is the place to go.
Xerxes (pronounced Zûrk’seez) – Food Adventurer Extraordinaire & Aspiring (=Amateur) Food Blogger – Shamelessly Exploring the Boundaries of Gluttony
Xerxes physically dines at, or orders from, each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat, drink, take away or occasionally throw at each other. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews or favouritism. What you have read was NOT influenced in any way by the venue. Join him on his culinary journey on Instagram: @ravenousxerxes or reach out to him via email on email@example.com.