t Dolan Uyghur Restaurant, we serve fresh, healthy, and delicious Uyghur and Central Asian cuisine. “Dolan'' is the name of an ancient tribe of Uyghur people who lived in the Taklamakan Desert during the Qing Dynasty. At Dolan, we strive to help preserve, celebrate, and share an integral part of Uyghur culture: food.
The Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking, predominantly Sunni Muslim group of people who traditionally inhabited the East Turkistan region of Central Asia. The Uyghur people have long been the victims of a human rights crisis orchestrated by the Chinese government that the U.S. State Department and many experts define as genocide. Uyghur culture is being erased, and millions are unjustly detained. The U.S. government and human rights groups believe China has detained millions Uyghurs against their will in a large network of what the state calls "re-education camps". The Uyghurs still living in Xinjiang are spied on by a draconian system of surveillance, their culture is besieged, and millions are unjustly detained enduring indoctrination, torture and forced labor. Uyghur culture is being erased, and this erasure must be stopped.
Dolan’s owner, Hamid Kerim, is from Ghulja, in the Eastern Turkestan region (Also known as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China) where he owned 15 jewelry import and export businesses. In 2017, Hamid learned that he had been blacklisted by the Chinese Government. Afraid of the implications of being blacklisted, Hamid, his wife and their two young children fled the country and moved to Chantilly, Virginia. Hamid didn’t speak English when he arrived in America, but in September 2018, he saw a life-changing advertisement in a newspaper – a Uyghur restaurant in Cleveland Park, Washington D.C. was for sale.
Hamid did not initially know how to cook, but that did not deter him. Hamid arranged for the owner to spend three months teaching him how to cook traditional Uyghur dishes. Once Hamid took full ownership of Dolan, he hired a staff of hard working immigrants from around the world and taught them how to cook Uyghur cuisine. In the early days of Dolan, Hamid spoke to every customer in the restaurant using his staff to interpret. Over time, Hamid learned enough English to be able to hold conversations on his own.
To Hamid, Dolan Uyghur Restaurant is more than a restaurant. Dolan is a chance to use his voice to change his home nation, and give a voice to the Uyghur people. In his lifetime Hamid would like to end the Genocide that is happening to the Uyghur people, assist his mother and siblings who still live in China, and advocate for and assist the Uyghur diaspora. More than the food, Hamid Kerim want customers to discover the culture and create memories at Dolan Uyghur Restaurant.
“Dolan'' is the name of an ancient tribe of Uyghur people who lived in the Taklamakan Desert. While there are modern Dolan people, the term “Dolan” primarily refers to an earlier Uyghur culture and civilization in the region. Today there are an estimated 12-20 million Uyghurs living in East Turkistan (Also known as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region).
The Taklamakan Desert is the second largest desert in the world and is known for shifting sand dunes of epic propositions. The semi-nomadic Dolan tribe inhabited a series of oases around the Tarim and Yarkend rivers within the Taklamakan Desert. Dolanians are most known for their unique style of music and dance. Some of these musical practices continue in present day. Dolanian music is traditionally performed with chants, plucked and bowed string instruments, and drums. This music is now grouped into a category of Uyghur Muqam music, which refers to a variety of musical arrangements that are widespread throughout the communities in Xinjiang.
The Kashgar region, an oasis city in the Tarim Basin where Dolan people lived, is an important historical and cultural center along the silk road, similar to Samarkand in modern-day Uzbekistan. Kashgar contains a wealth of valuable resources including petroleum and natural gas. However, Uyghur people in this region remain some of the poorest in China.
At Dolan, you can experience the unique cuisine that Uyghur people developed through their long history as traders across Central Asia. Imagine tasting the same food that Marco Polo enjoyed in the 13th century as he traveled from Italy to the Mongolian Empire. At Dolan Uyghur Restaurant, you can.
Dolan Uyghur Restaurant is one of the first Uyghur restaurants in Washington D.C. and Fairfax, Virginia. In these locations, Dolan Uyghur Restaurant is the connection between Uyghur culture and America. This mission is woven throughout everything we do. When you walk through the doors to our restaurant, you are greeted with tapestries and art depicting everyday Uyghur life. In our branding, you’ll see a traditional Badam Doppa icon combined with “Dolan” written in script. A Doppa is a traditional skullcap worn across Central Asia, and badam refers to the almond shape that is often embroidered on the caps. Together, the Badam Doppa and our name come together to create a message of history, heritage, beauty, and poetry. Most importantly, our brand conveys the feeling of being handmade with care, just like the dishes on our menu. When you see our branding, we hope you feel peace and look forward to your next meal shared with loved ones.
Food is an integral part of Uyghur culture. The Uyghur people have been living in Central Asia for centuries and have created a variety of cooking methods that have created a rich food culture. The unique character of Uyghur cuisine is a result of local products, traditional cooking methods, and recipes that have been passed through generations. Uyghur food reflects the influence of neighboring cultures such as Greek, Persian, and Arabic cultures, yet our food culture is uniquely our own. On our menu, you’ll find hand-pulled noodles, chicken stew, handmade dumplings, and many more delicious dishes. Our chef prepares each dish with fresh, ingredients, authentic recipes, and pride for our culture. With every item on our menu, we are committed to preserving and sharing the authentic flavors and traditions of Uyghur and Central Asian cuisine.
Our Menu: Traditional Uyghur Dishes
Uyghur cuisine includes a variety of delicious dishes made with rich ingredients from across Central Asia. Here are a few traditional Uyghur specialities that you’ll find on our menu:
- Laghman: This classic dish features fresh hand-pulled noodles served with lamb, vegetables and a spicy sauce.
- Korma Chop: This dish is a favorite, with Uyghur-styled signature hand-pulled noodles served with chives, onions, red bell peppers, and your choice of protein.
- Samsa: Fresh dough is stuffed with Flour, Beef and Onions, Black peppers, Salt, and Sesame.
- Naan: Naan is an important daily staple for Uyghur people, and is one of the most famous street foods. Naan is a type of flatbread traditionally cooked in a clay oven with cumin and chili powder.
- Kebabs: Lamb is a big part of Uyghur cuisine, and kebabs are a popular way to enjoy the flavorful meat. These kebabs are made by roasting chunks of lamb on a stick with cumin and chili powder.
These specialities are just the beginning. There are countless other Uyghur dishes including lamb wraps, salads, soups, teas and desserts.
Join us at Dolan Uyghur Restaurant
Dolan is all about serving traditional meals “for those you love the most”. We invite you to Dolan, to enjoy a taste of our culture, savor a meal with your loved ones, and experience the culinary tradition of Central Asia. When you visit Dolan Uyghur Restaurant, we hope you think of the Uyghur people and imagine the snow-capped mountains, winding rivers, and blue-green lakes of central Asia that the Uyghur people call home.