Tale of an Uzbeki Feast at Uzbekistan
I hope to impress you with the fact that I ate practically half the menu of Uzbekistan, a restaurant located in the area I believe is considered the far northeast. Yes, it is out of the way for Center City folk, but there is no CC equivalent and it’s a bit quicker than a flight to Eastern Europe. Check out where Uzbekistan is located on a map. Its geography is reflected in the cuisine, especially the influence of multiple ethnicities. The common theme on an Uzbek menu is hearty food. Sometimes a girl has gotta feast, and this is the place to it.
A pitcher of kompot, a tart, cherry drink is a good way to start. I always like to try a restaurant’s version of this stuff when it’s available, and here it was the least cloying and most enjoyable I’ve had. Uzbekistan is BYO, so pouring in some vodka or even wine to make your own kompot sangria could be awesome. I feel like I dropped the ball here by not doing that.
A giant round of bread is only $2, but with so many carb based items to choose from on the menu, you might not even need this.
A tangy shredded carrot salad ($4.50) is a good way to open your palate. This was also the only meatless dish we tried.
Also from the salad menu, the pecan salad ($5) was a misnomer. Expect more of a green, red, and yellow pepper chicken salad.
The two soups I tried were on my list of menu favorites The kharcho ($5) (far left) was described as “spicy soup, meat, rice.” While we did get a spicy soup with a bit of rice and pieces of meat, the description does not do it’s complexity justice. It got better with each slurp. As good as it was, I may have enjoyed the green borscht more, a vegetal soup described as “sour leaves, meat, potato.” This was served with a dish of sour cream that morphed the flavor into something resembling a brothy creamed spinach. I suggest trying the borsht both ways by adding some sour cream once you are half way through.
It is easy to go overboard with ordering from the line up of dough filled items, since they are all about $2. For the Uzbek version of a spanikopita try the kutab, a fried packet filled with feta and spinach. The cheburek, is more like an empanada, the crust is flakier and it is filled with ground meat. Our duo was accompanied by a spicy tomato sauce.
Less successful, was the meat and onion filled samsa. It didn’t have enough flavor and the texture of the meat was unappealing.
An order of stuffed cabbage ($7) is more than a meal on its own, with 3 cabbage wrapped logs of rice and meat topped with roasted peppers and surrounded in a moat of sauce.
For something truly unique, the fried ravioli ($6.20) are like savory fortune cookies, and your fortune is… meat. Isn’t that the best kind of fortune? Dipping in the dish of sour cream is a must, as they would otherwise be dry.
The Chinese are not the only ones known for their hand pulled noodle.The Uzbeki version is called lagman. Here it comes in soup form or as we had it, on a plate with sauce ($6.50). Great flavor, but I would have even been happier had the noodles been more al dente. The chucks of stewed beef in between long strands of noodles is fit for the colder months. And for a moment, as I watched the fake snow fall on the beautiful lady singing on the variety show playing on the television, I felt like I needed my snow boots.
Consider balancing out all the stuffed dough with meat on a skewer. It is rare that I am impressed by a kebob but I insist you order the lamb ribs ($3.59) and if you have room, the skirt steak skewers. The little lamb rib bits were grilled until perfectly charred. I was also pleased to find out that where many countries in the Eastern Hemisphere cover their lamb ribs with cumin, here, they were cumin free. Adding to the royal feasting experience, the red sauce was served in a goblet.
I wish I had a 7th stomach so that I could have tried the other soups, the chicken ravioli, and some of the other skewers. But that will have to wait until next time, and I won’t forget the wine.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Delicious and hearty soups, skewers, and savory pastries
- For under $10 a person, you can feast like an Uzkbeki prince
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Why can’t this be in Center City??
- The menu descriptions might not adequately express what you are going to get
Uzbekistan, 12012 Bustleton Ave, 215 671 1990