Poplar quietly opened in George Street earlier in the year. It has an interesting menu with dishes from a long stretch of the Silk Road from China to Persia. We're pretty sure it is run by the same folks behind Poplar in in Crow's Nest.
The most popular dish seems to be the spicy chicken and potato, a big hunky caveman stew. For us the killer dishes are the noodles, these are handmade fresh for each dish. We're sure there's many more gems on the menu, but some of the more interesting, traditional dishes are bit pricey for a casual midweek feed. Then again some dishes are absurdly cheap, it's a bit all over the shop. We'll explore more of the menu over time.
It's a fairly snazzy fitout for this stretch of George Street, they currently have the cleanest loos in Chinatown.
Cold noodles with lamb skewer - $18. Cold noodles in a light vinegar-y sauce with a slight chili kick. It is topped with some dang tasty bbq'd cumin lamb and onions with sliced cucumber on the side. Tasty but overpriced.
Polo - braised rice - $15. A plain but hearty and homely dish, the rice tastes like it has been tempered in a little butter. There's a few bites of plain, slow cooked mutton for protein. This is similar to the polo dish we had at Vatan, a Persian restaurant in Auburn. This dish seemed overpriced as well.
Xinjian style washed dough noodles - $10. We order this because we have no idea what it could be. It turns out to be thick flat noodles in a spicy sour sauce. The noodles are superb and the sauce has a fair chili wallop to it. On top is grated cucumber and something else that looks like tofu but we think it is wheat gluton. Awesome.
Spicy braised lamb with bones - $10. A few big hunks of lamb on the bone. You have to gnaw at the bone to get the meat off, it's a bit of primal fun. The sauce is very lamby, we order some extra noodles to soak it up...
One of our favourite dishes here is a simple $3 plate of plain noodles. This is a nice change to rice, perfect for sauce sopping. The noodles are flat and thick like lasagna sheets cut into strips. They are fresh with the perfect amount of chew to them. Highly recommended.
Spicy chicken and potato - $20 (small). Bony chicken pieces with potato in a simple sauce, with flat noodles underneath. It's rustic food and very popular here, we see many folks order it. A small serve is plenty for two, get an extra serve of flat noodles to mop up the sauce.
Lamb skewars - $12.50 for five. Juicy hunks of lamb coated in cumin, always a crowd pleaser.
Suyuk ash - Xin Jiang style noodle soup - $12. A thin broth, our guess it they use the lamb soup for a base, with a little tomato and spice, with shredded hand made noodles and a few slithers of pork and veg. Very happy. The soups are a large serve, you could share one if you also had a few other dishes.
Nann shorpa - $15. A clear, thin, plain lamb soup with chopped up pieces of naan bread, plus a few slices of lamb and some glass noodles. Mr Shawn was hoping this would be just like a soup he had in a Uygher restaurant in Zhu Hai, China - and it was just as good, kinda. Very happy.
Mapo tofu with noodle - $11.50. This is a Halal joint so this Szechuan classic of pork and tofu becomes lamb mince and tofu. It's a plain and homely version of this dish, there's not a lot of chili or Szechuan pepper involved. The sauce isn't exciting but the fresh handmade noodles are fantastic as always, thick and chewy.
Beef noodle soup - $10. Fantastic noodles, fresh thin and soft. A few small hunks of beef and radish slices. The broth is thin and plain, fairly salty.
Poplar Central Asian Cuisine is at 804 George Street, Sydney - up towards Central - Chinatown fringe. Phone 9439 9886.