Queen Amannisa
Queen Amannisa / Photo by Rey Lopez

Queen Amannisa

Queen Amannisa
Lamb kabob from Queen Amannisa / Photo by Rey Lopez

“I don’t even know what that is, but now I want it,” said a friend after I told her to try Queen Amannisa, a Uyghur restaurant in Crystal City.

Don’t be intimated by this Middle Eastern-Central Asian-Chinese hybrid cuisine. In fact, if you’re living in Northern Virginia, you probably collect global meals like you used to hoard My Little Pony figurines.

Go here with a group and a plan of attack to dine family-style, and order twice the skewers of kabobs you think you’ll need. Spices are layered on as the meat cooks, so the seasoning becomes a delicious, sandpaper-like outer layer protecting tender meat.

You’ll also want the hand-pulled noodles in every iteration possible. There’s laghman where the noodles are chopped and fried and the nubby texture accentuates its inherent chewiness. It’s tossed with bell peppers and lamb in a garlicky, ultra-savory sauce. Long, silky noodles find a home under pieces of chopped, bone-in chicken. The flavors here are intense and soulful, dramatic with balance: think of Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks.”

Established: October 2015
Type: Uyghur
Good for: cucumber salad, lamb kabob, big plate chicken
Address: 320 23rd St. S., Arlington
Open: daily for lunch and dinner

(May 2016 Best New Restaurants 2016)