Sunday, July 25, 2004

Song & dance

we had a makan session with Singaporean colleagues at an ethnic xinjiang restaurant on Saturday evening (although there is a Penang restaurant serving teh tarik, prata and bak kut teh is just round the corner!). Xinjiang food is an intriguing mix of turkish and central asian influences. For a Singaporean, it is an familiar enough to ring a bell but yet different enough to be interesting. For instance, the lamb kebabs are a bit like satay, same concept of meat grilled on a skewer. but the spices and the tender lamb is refreshingly different. They also have naan but thicker and of more biscuitty texture than the North Indian version that we are more familiar with. The other dishes, like spicy stews seem more like some Turkish dishes that we tried in Singapore. Their handmade noodles is somewhat like pasta with their tomato based sauce.

Apart from the ethnic food, the highlight of the restaurant is their entertainment. A band (two guitarist and a bongo drummer) alternates with two nubile belly dancers. The two guitarists (especially the bassist) were excellent and likes to launch into frenetic strumming and jamming with the drummer. The drummer plays on a ethnic uighur drum, a bit like the bongo. Their music is a blend of ethnic uighur, flamenco, latin and country western. Even Robina thought that the lead singer was "cute" since he was quite charismatic and had the "rocker" look (a bit like Adrian Loo!). in between performances, Moroccan or Turkish MTVs were played on a big screen behind the stage. Robina and I were debating whether the singer was the same guy featured in the MTV. turns out I was wrong, he is not Arken the famous Uighur singer. (but Arken and his band is playing in a pub nearby. we will pop down to see them play one of these days). An amusing interlude was the presence of an enthusiastic "groupie". A young boy (must be 8 or 9) would be screaming his head off and cheering the band's performance. Even the lead singer was slightly embarrassed. but it must have made his day!

the dancers performed a few uighur dances and belly dancing. there was a dance where they balanced a stack of bowls on their head and pirouette gracefully. It was quite a display of poise and grace. The dancers removed the bowls one by one towards the end of the dance.


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