Last week, craving something a little different from our usual delivery, we hitched up our britches and made our way to the Huxi Mosque in northern Jing’an. One of the biggest mosques in Shanghai, it was first established by Moslem paupers in 1914. It was shut down during the war and the tumultuous years afterwards, but became the first mosque to reopen in Shanghai in 1979. In 1992, it moved from its original place on Xikang Lu to where it now resides, on Changde Lu near Aomen Lu.
Every Friday at around 11am, the faithful from around Shanghai and its neighboring counties gather right across from the Huxi Mosque the biggest Muslim bazaar in the city. There, they set up giant blocks of ice, huge woks filled with rice and spices, makeshift shops piled with fabrics and teas and DVDs… and, of course, lamb. Lots and lots of lamb.
We started off munching on some of the specialty braised beef dumplings from Gansu (2RMB a piece). Our wide-eyed wonder as we paid for a half dozen of these treats – kind of a cross between a beef pastry pie and a shenjianbao – probably tipped off the beggars, who surrounded us in droves asking for a kuai and if not that, maybe one of those dumplings instead?
For the main course we moved onto pulao, rice pilaf cooked with garlic, onions and carrots and topped off with a gargantuan chunk of that specific breed of fat-tailed sheep you find in Central Asia (15RMB). It was so flavorful and heavy that it only took a few bites before we were sated. We eyed some of the kebabs being roasted by a vendor next to us, but were already too full to go on. After picking up some almonds and apricots from one of the side vendors, we headed back for home.
Next time around, we would come a little hungrier. Maybe we’d be able to fit in a bowl of langman, cold noodles covered in chili pepper and radishes… and definitely a bowl of dogh, ice covered in homemade yoghurt and drizzled with Xinjiang honey. For desert, we’ll have some more of the same – sugar-covered dough and baklava from the back of a bike vendor.
Where: 1328 Changde Lu, near Aomen Lu (常德路1328弄, 近澳门路)
When: Every Friday, from 11am onwards