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Friday, January 25, 2013

Poplar Central Asian Cuisine, Crows Nest

uighur food at poplar central asian cuisine crows nest

EDIT: Poplar Central Asian Cuisine has closed

Meat on sticks is good, but meat on swords is better. At Poplar, it’s chunks of lamb skewered onto swords of flattened steel, cooked over charcoal until smoky. Dusted liberally with cumin, the meat is tender and aromatic – if you’re lucky you’ll score a fatty piece that’s reminiscent of a caramelised lamb chop. The sword-like skewers are a throwback to the Central Asian soldiers of yore who would use their swords to grill meat over an open fire.

uighur charcoal lamb skewers at poplar central asian cuisine crows nest
Zik kawap $12.50 for 5
Charcoal lamb skewers

The family-run Poplar has been open for two years but it’s quiet most nights bar a few loyal diners. It’s a shame because the menu offers a comprehensive selection of dishes that span the breadth of Central Asia, from lamb-filled Uzbek mantou buns to Kazakh lamb with noodles to Russian-style kotlet beef and potato croquettes. The interior is bright and clean, the menu is helpfully illustrated with photos and service is friendly and obliging.

uzbek steamed manta at poplar central asian cuisine crows nest
Petir manta $12.50
Uzbek-specialty steamed manta

The zik kawap charcoal lamb skewers are a given. They’re so good you’ll probably order another round.

dapan ji big plate chicken at poplar central asian cuisine crows nest
Dapan ji $20 small ($30 large)
Spicy chicken with potato and dried chilli served with freshly handmade noodles

Dapanji, meaning ‘big plate chicken’, is also a specialty and a much-loved favourite with Uighur locals. It’s a hearty comfort-food dish of chicken pieces on the bone, boiled potato, dried chilli and capsicum mixed through with handmade noodles that are satisfyingly chewy.

shallot pancakes at poplar central asian cuisine crows nest
Piyaz poshkal $8
Shallot pancakes

Piyaz poshkal, or shallot pancakes, are also a winner – flaky rounds of pastry with a golden bubbled crunch.

xinjiang lamb tongue salad at poplar central asian cuisine crows nest
Koy tili salad $10
Xinjiang-style lamb tongue salad

If you’re a fan of tripe, Poplar has you covered. The Xinjiang-style lamb tongue salad is vinegary and refreshing, but the lamb trip salad with capsicum is our pick with its sweeter dressing.

lamb tripe salad at poplar central asian cuisine crows nest
Kerin salad $15
Lamb tripe salad with capsicum

Relax. It’s not all innards. The gosh nan is like a pizza on steroids, a thick disc of bread cradling hunks of braised lamb on the bone in a lake of gravy.

lamb on gosh naan at poplar central asian cuisine crows nest
Gosh nan $30
Braised lamb served on Central Asian naan

xinjiang noodle soup at poplar central asian cuisine crows nest
Suyuk ash $12
Xinjiang-style noodle soup

Finish up with suyuk ash, a massive bowl of Xinjiang spicy soup brimming with tomatoes, tofu, black fungus and noodles.

cucumber salad at poplar central asian cuisine crows nest
Terhemek salad $8
Cucumber salad

lamb tripe salad at poplar central asian cuisine crows nest
Sujuk $15
Xinjiang-style smoked sausages

clear egg soup at poplar central asian cuisine crows nest
Tuhum shorpa $10
Clear egg soup

zik kawap charcoal lamb skewers at poplar central asian cuisine crows nest

Zik kawap $12.50 for 5
Charcoal lamb skewers

poplar central asian cuisine crows nest

View Larger Map
Poplar Central Asian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Poplar Central Asian Cuisine (CLOSED)
Shop 2, 300 Pacific Highway
Crows Nest 2065
Tel: +61 (02) 9439 9886

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday 11am-10pm

This article appears in the February 2013 issue of Time Out Sydney in my monthly Food & Drink column Eat This! [Read online

Read more Time Out Sydney reviews
16 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 1/25/2013 01:07:00 am


  • At 1/25/2013 6:06 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    But where are the skewers of cake? *perplexed face*

    My dad made my brother and me eat tripe when we were in the single digits. It was horrible then, but I'd totally try it again now.

  • At 1/25/2013 8:10 am, Blogger K said…

    Those skewers are so tasty! Wonderful write up and photos are great as usual! Can't wait to go back to this place for a meat party. :)

  • At 1/25/2013 9:12 am, Blogger Jacq said…

    The lamb skewers here are so good! Also love their handmade noodles and meat buns. It's a shame that not many people know about this place though.

  • At 1/25/2013 9:24 am, Blogger Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    Swords are so much better than skewers.

  • At 1/25/2013 2:21 pm, Anonymous Eha said…

    I have always had and enjoyed beef tripe [ie honeycomb tripe, so fab in 'a la Caen'] and tongue, or even preferably the hard-to-get veal version, so these offerings are just heaven! Must get to it when next > Sydney :) !

  • At 1/25/2013 5:45 pm, Blogger YaYa said…

    Yum, love lamb, love tripe, lamb tripe - epic win!

  • At 1/26/2013 1:17 am, Anonymous Sara - Belly Rumbles said…

    The sword will always be mightier than the skewer!

  • At 1/26/2013 10:54 am, Blogger Milktea Eats said…

    aww yum lamb skewers! i love cooking meat over an open fire!

  • At 1/28/2013 11:41 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Oh everything looks so delicious... except the tripe, I am not a fan... just can't do it :(

    Everything else I would have swooped on in a flash, just gorgeous, loved the shallot pancake and the meat daggars YUM!

  • At 1/28/2013 9:31 pm, Anonymous The Food Sage said…

    You don't half get yourself around town, lady. Another one to add to the list that i never get to the bottom of! Can't say i'm a fan of tripe, but the charcoal lamb skewers look lovely! Thanks for sharing.

  • At 1/30/2013 12:07 pm, Anonymous Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy said…

    Check out that lamb!! Im so happy you have done another restaurant "Northside" I am going to check this joint out!
    Not sure about the lamb tongue...maybe as a dare...

  • At 1/30/2013 8:10 pm, Blogger Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said…

    Meat on swords is way cool! And so are delicious shallot pancakes!
    Never heard of lamb tripe before, though not sure I'd try it. The only tripe I eat is the beef tripe in a bowl of pho!

  • At 2/01/2013 9:55 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Ah yes what could be better than swords of meat? Love it! Not so sure about the tripe though, I am an offal fan but nto so much tripe.

  • At 2/02/2013 7:09 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    I love love love Xinjiang/Uighur food! Those lamb skewers look amaaaazing! As a language nerd, I'm fascinated by the names - such a fab mixture of Chinese and seemingly Eastern European/Russian words!!

    xox Sarah

  • At 2/03/2013 3:26 pm, Anonymous Mr C @ The Food Diary said…

    Lamb skewers look delicious! I'll definitely be sure to try them one day, the ones in Chinatown are the only ones I see regularly...

  • At 2/11/2013 5:19 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Hannah - Cake skewers? Now there's an idea!

    Hi K - Ooh, my favourite kind of meat-up :)

    Hi Jacq - It is a surprise that more people don't visit. Hopefully they'll get more traffic soon.

    Hi Tina - Too right!

    Hi Eha - Enjoy! I love tripe!

    Hi YaYa - I think so too!

    Hi Sara - Lol. Love it.

    Hi milkteaxx - I agree. So much better flavour.

    Hi Gourmet Getaways - I think texture is often a hurdle with tripe but I can't get enough of the stuff!

    Hi The Food Sage - Haha, I try :) And the charcoal lamb skewers are amazing.

    Hi Anna - lol. It is a long way across that bridge ;)

    Hi Angie - I hadn't seen lamb tripe either so ordered it straight away. lol

    Hi Cara - It's all good stuff :)

    Hi Sarah - Yes it's fascinating to see how words/languages evolve!

    Hi Mr C - There are quite a few Uighur restaurants in Chinatown - I find the cuisine so fascinating.


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