Restaurant Review: Taam Tov

A note about my restaurant reviews: New York City counts many Eastern European restaurants scattered across the five boroughs, most of them ignored by restaurant critics and diners alike. I intend to visit as many as I can and report!

Uzbek Restaurant - Taam Tov

Taam Tov, in Midtown West, is probably the only Uzbek restaurant in Manhattan. More precisely, they serve Bukharan kosher cuisine, and the name means good taste in Hebrew. It’s not in a particularly attractive location — this is one of the neighborhoods I like the least, and most people would probably agree — but getting there is a considerably faster journey than getting to Rego Park.

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Restaurant Review: #1 Uzbek Palace

A note about my restaurant reviews: New York City counts many Eastern European restaurants scattered across the five boroughs, most of them ignored by restaurant critics and diners alike. I intend to visit as many as I can and report!

#1 Uzbek Palace#1 Uzbek Palace starts the review with a few handicaps. First, it’s located in the middle of nowhere (at least from a Manhattanite’s point of view), at the northern end of the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood — so much so that most web sites aren’t sure whether it should be considered part of Sheepshead Bay, Midwood, or even Gravesend. Then, you have to admit it has a ridiculous name. “Palace” already sounds grandiloquent for a nondescript storefront leading to a railroad dining room, but the “#1″ is really over the top. Finally, there’s the slightly schizophrenic cuisine claim: Is it a Turkish, an Uzbek, or an Oriental restaurant?

But we at Food Perestroika do not judge a book by its cover, and once again put our scruples aside in order to bring you the truth.

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Restaurant Review: Cheburechnaya

A note about my restaurant reviews: New York City counts many Eastern European restaurants scattered across the five boroughs, most of them ignored by restaurant critics and diners alike. I intend to visit as many as I can and report!

Uzbek Restaurant - Cheburechnaya In Rego Park

Rego Park, in Queens, is one of the very few places in the western world where you’ll find a high density of Uzbek restaurants, thanks to the sizeable Bukharan Jewish population. As in Brighton Beach, you can choose the amount of cheesiness you want with your meal — from a little, usually in the tacky decor, to a ton, if you choose the Saturday night deluxe banquet at your favorite palace.

Cheburechnaya is one of the prominent neighborhood joints that doesn’t come with any kind of live music or other bombastic show. In fact, with its drop ceiling and its long refrigerated window against the wall (which showcases the kebabs), it looks more like a cafeteria. A cafeteria that also serves wine and vodka if you ask nicely.

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Paris Restaurant Report: Boukhara

In addition to my New York restaurant reviews, I’d like to share with you my thoughts on random Eastern European restaurants I visit during my various trips. These posts may not always have the depth of my traditional reviews, so I won’t provide any ratings. I’m also unlikely to write about a place if it’s not noteworthy in some capacity.

Boukhara (or Bukhara, in the English transliteration), one of the very few Uzbek restaurants west of the former Soviet Union, has 2 locations in Paris, in the 9th and 11th arrondissements. We visited the latter, a hole-in-the-wall a few minutes’ walk from Bastille.

Don’t come if you’re in a hurry. The day we visited, there was only one waiter and one cook, which caused considerable delays. The food, however, is well worth the wait.

The menu is fairly short and covers all the traditional dishes. Appetizers (salads, samsa, manti) and soups fetch around 7 €, while entrées such as plov, lagman or lamb chops cost about twice as much.

First came the chuchvara, small, juicy lamb dumplings in Turkestan creamy tomato sauce. Very good. You’ll soon notice that all the dishes follow similar plating layouts: blue plates (a rarity in restaurants), the main element with shredded herbs on top, a tomato and lettuce salad, and often a small side of plov.

The manti contained a similar mixture in a larger format. Again, the juicy and tender filling made the dish a success.

The hanoum, a dish I had never heard of, was described as steamed Uzbek lasagna with lamb and potatoes, topped with the same Turkestan sauce. It was pretty rustic but it didn’t disappoint. If anybody has a recipe for it, I’m interested.

Of course, we had to try the plov, with its satisfyingly greasy rice, and pieces of lamb. Good, certainly, but not the best one I’ve ever had (that would be in Moscow, but then, I haven’t been to Uzbekistan… yet).

You can wash down your food with Georgian red wine (decent) and vodka, some of it house-infused with watermelon. Sadly for an Uzbek restaurant, the tea options were simply tea bags.

If you want to discover Uzbek cuisine (and if you like lamb!), I’d definitely recommend a visit to Boukhara. The classic dishes, though simple, are all solidly executed.