DaPanJi (大盘鸡): Xinjiang’s Best Food
Alternate Names: “Big Plate Chicken”
Description: A communal dish of chicken, potatoes, onions, and spices soaked in a tasty red sauce
What is “Da Pan Ji”?
If you ask that question to anyone outside of China they might look at you weird and wonder if you’re speaking English (which you’re not). If you ask most Chinese people they might tell you that it is one of Xinjiang’s most famous dishes. If you ask us, we’ll tell you that it’s one of our favorite meals to eat in China and that if you ever live in or travel to Xinjiang, you MUST TRY IT, even if you’ve already tasted it in another part of China.
“Da Pan Ji” (大盘鸡), directly translated, means “A big plate of chicken“. It’s actually a pretty good name because at it’s core it’s really a big…plate…of chicken. Oh yea, and potatoes. But mostly chicken, including the feet and (sometimes) the chicken head. Other ingredients include green onions, peppers, and a red sauce that is to die for cooked together and served on one big plate in the middle of the table.
How is it ordered?
Da Pan Ji can be ordered in a few different ways:
- Full or half plate. The half plate, called “Ban Pan Ji” is good for two hungry people or three semi-hungry people. A full plate can feed parties of 4 or more.
- Spicy or not spicy. While the spice is part of what makes it taste so good, you can actually order the dish “bu la” or “without hot peppers”.
- With or without noodles. Towards the end of the meal, a plate of noodles can be brought out on request to be mixed and eaten with the delicious red sauce. The noodles are usually long and flat and a favorite part of the meal for most who try (It’s pretty much my wife’s favorite part).
>Eating it is simple: each person has his or her own small plate which they can use as both a stepping stone to their mouth or as a place to discard the chicken bones.
How we eat it:
- We usually buy some bread at a local Uyghur bread stand before going to the restaurant or if possible order the bread at the restaurant and use it to dip into the red sauce (have I mentioned the sauce is to die for?).
- Order a cold dish – our favorite is the cucumbers - to act as a spice reliever when we do decide to order the dish spicy. We’re usually glad we did.
It’s a dish you’ll be sure to enjoy, so if you ever make your way out here give it a try and let us know what you thought! My parents came to visit and I’m pretty sure they had a good time eating this with us…
…that is until my mom saw the chicken head. I think her meal ended right there. Ha!