Dolan’s Uyghur restaurant in Cleveland Park

Benjy Chait

Despite having walked past it countless times, I never really thought to go into Dolan Uyghur; and in retrospect, that was a big mistake. Located a block from the Cleveland Park metro station, Dolan Uyghur offers tasteful, central Asian cuisine that’s worth the train ride. 

I ordered the kawa samsa, a delightful savory pastry stuffed with a rich butternut squash filling; the fried eggplant, braised in a flavorful sauce; and the rib kabob, lamb chops that’ll run miles around all other lamb chops. Everything was delicious and authentic, a true taste of the traditions of the Uyghur people.

Uyghurs are an ethnic minority native to northwest China who mostly practice Islam. Currently, Uyghur Muslims are facing an ongoing series of horrific human rights violations in China, where the majority of them still live. The dire situation has become the largest-scale and most systematic detention of ethnic and religious minorities since the Holocaust, and while it has been widely-reported, little has been done. 

You may have seen headlines on the Uyghur Muslims all over your Instagram feed, but on social media, they feel so far away. From such a distance, it can feel like a helpless situation. However, a really simple way to show support for the community is to give them business. 

China is attempting to destroy a culture that this restaurant puts on display. As the owner puts it, they are “committed to preserving a wide variety of dishes that capture the unique flavors—and culture—of the Uyghur people.”