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  • Ying (full name Ying Ying’s Private Kitchen) is a small, low-key spot serving up the central-Asian flavors of Xinjiang. It’s a nifty space, sharply decorated with pleasant colors and tones, with seating for about 20. It’s a cozy dining room-style vibe that’s a cool, casual alternative to the more high-end and/or kitschy Xinjiang places around town. Great for a weekday lunch or chill dinner.

    The menu sets Ying apart as well, with a couple of pages devoted to something you don’t see too much in Shanghai – Xinjiang noodles. They are mostly fried rice noodles with additions like chicken or beef, pickled vegetables, and mushrooms. I go for chicken, pickled cabbage and mushroom bowl, which also comes with a sprinkling of peanuts.

    They’re big portions that pack a serious amount of flavor, and are totally of a piece with the cumin and chili-rich tones of typical Xinjiang fare. They’re pretty heavy on the oil and seasonings and they don’t mess around with chili either, so bear that in mind when they ask you how spicy you’d like yours. When you mix it all up it just becomes this monstrous mian machine combining heat, toothsome noodles and a real depth of flavor. They’ll make you sweat.

    I can’t speak to how authentically Xinjiang-ese(?) these things are, but seriously, this is a killer bowl of noodles. They generally go for between RMB 38 and RMB 45.

    Along with those, Ying serves up a menu of well-executed Xinjiang staples like a da pan ji and friend lamb and bread, which is just as rich and indulgent and delicious as it sounds if you can handle the salt and oil. I can. Vegetable options are pretty slim and consist of things like sautéed cabbage, though the fried zucchini is recommended as a foil to all the richness. It comes in a light, tomato-based sauce with just a hint of chili. Prices on those are all pretty reasonable. Three standard dishes are enough for two people, and won’t total much more than RMB 100. The da pan ji is huge.  

    Technically Ying has been around for a little while – it originally opened as Jiang more than a year ago, before shuttering for months and recently reopening with the same menu, the same décor, and a new owner. I really, really hope it stays. It’s always busy, so that bodes well. As long as it’s around, it’s a great new option for Xinjiang when you’re in this part of town and, I’d argue, worth a trip when you’re not.

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SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.