Karlaylisi Restaurant, 4/203 Ballarat Road, Footscray. Phone: 0413 955 515
Don’t let the Ballarat Road address mislead – Karlaylisi is situated on Gordon Street.
In fact, it occupies the exact same premises as the sadly short-lived Spice Klub and its Indonesian offerings.
Karlaylisi delivers Uyghur cuisine – the food of the Uughurs, who live mostly in China’s Xinjiang province.
Check out this SBS story for background on the people and their food.
There’s oodles to like about Karlaylisi.
Indeed, it could be tossed up as the perfect template for the perfect CTS eating house.
The menu is long, stuffed with dumplings, hand-made noodles, soups, cold dishes and kebabs.
And lots and lots of lamb dishes.
Some items are certainly for larger and planned groups – the roasted whole lamb ($350, $180), for instance.
Or even the lamb casserole with steamed wrap bread ($60).
Yet despite the ambitions inherent in the menu and that this appears to be a one-man show, we found our food to be fresh, hot and delivered to our table with admirable speed and wide smiles.
An early highlight – actually, THE highlight – are the lamb skewers ($2 each, minimum of five).
These feature bigger chunks of meat than we’ve had elsewhere.
They’re more tender, too, and a little less seasoned with salt and cumin.
There’s some fat, but it all tastes way more than good.
Siyi qanalgan lagman ($14.50) is a homely and nicely plain mix of lamb and vegetables on a mound of noodles.
You could pitch this to picky kids as a spag bol variant, no problems.
From the dumpling/pastry list come tugra ($13), lamb dumplings.
Once again rather plain, they nevertheless go fine.
Aqqik korulgan chop ($14.50) is a much sexier (i.e. oilier and with some chilli heat) noodle dish with lamb, garlic chives and sesame oil.
Kala til kormisi ($14) is stir-fried beef tongue.
I expected to this to have a more pronounced chargrill or wok hei aspect.
Instead, the meat is quite silky and very tender.
The overtly meaty vibe of our menu choices is ameliorated by the complementary salad presented to us.
Laohusai ($13) is a delight, zingy and fresh with loud voices of garlic and vinegar coming through.
We will return to Karlaylisi – there’s so much to explore!