Restaurant: Chaikhana Uzbekistan
Location: 12012 Bustleton Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19116. (215) 671-1990
Date: November 24, 2015 & November 21, 2017
Rating: Tasty fun
It’s tradition on the day before ThanksGavin, for us Gavins to go somewhere ethnic.
This year, we ended up at a new place, and a new cuisine (or sub cuisine) for me: Chaikhana Uzbekistan. Seems fitting this year too because I’ve been reading about the Mongol conquest — and well, Uzbekistan was on the menu. But tonight we are the beneficiaries of this crossroads of the world.
My father brought this sparkler. NV Casa Vinicola Botter Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Santi Nello. 88 points. Peach, mineral, dry, small bubbles, hint of sweetness, but not overly so. Great value.
Salad with preserved meat, olives, and cheese. Nice salad actually. Sort of like a Greek salad, but with bits of pastrami.
Salad in the back. A more normal middle eastern salad. Also in the front, those shot glasses of yogurt and tomato “sauce.” These could be drizzled over just about anything to add to the flavor — and they really did. This is a bit similar to Afghan places.
From my cellar: 2013 Christophe et Fils Chablis. 92 points. Limpid color. More orange fruit than the Petit Chablis. Slightly leaner and lighter than that wine, but similar outstanding acidity and limestone. Excellent.
An eggplant salad. Nice, with good smoked flavor.
Uzbeki bread. Nice and hot and puffy.
From my cellar: 2009 Weingut Knoll Riesling Smaragd Dürnsteiner Kellerberg. 92 points. Medium green-yellow. Seductive aromas of ripe peach, subtle blossom honey and mandarin orange. Becomes more exotic in the mouth, adding papaya and lime to the mix. Sweet peach and papaya fruit is lifted by extraordinarily elegant lemony acidity. Finishes with palate-staining fruit and intense wet rock minerality. Wonderful to drink now, but should be even better between 2014 and 2024.
Herring and potatoes. Marinated cut herring in front. Like some saba sashimi — with potatoes!
Potato dumplings. Very soft succulent gnocchi like things.
Chicken dumplings. Don’t look like much, but were very tasty.
Bread with spinach and cheese. Sort of Uzbeki spanakopita.
From my cellar: 1993 Pierre Damoy Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. 93 points. Elegant, extremely pure and spicy with austere black fruit notes and understated, powerful, densely concentrated and superbly well focused flavors that deliver superb mid-palate punch and terrific finishing complexity. This has always been impressive, even since release and it continues to develop well. It can be approached now but it will certainly be better in a few years. That said, it’s so close to its peak that there would be very little left on the table to open a bottle now. Multiple, and consistent, notes.
Rice with lamb. One of these typical pilaf dishes found in central Asia, and north India, and China (as fried rice). Delicious.
Turnovers. Meat and cheese and spinach. The Flat one is the cheese. Both were good, and the meat one was a serious bomb, but quite delicious with the yogurt and tomato.
Kabob. Beef or lamb and ground beef. I really liked the ground beef kabob (kobideh or similar), even if it looked like a big turd. Delicious.
Potatoes. Like home made potato chips. Excellent.
Cheese pie. This was crazy gooey with a melted form of fresh cheese and a light flakey dough.
Lamb rib, lamb, and beef kabobs.
Salmon kabob. From those Oxus river salmon.
2011 Torremoron Ribera del Duero. VM 89. Bright ruby. Perfumed, expressive bouquet of black and blue fruits and candied rose. Ripe and generous on the palate, offering fleshy cherry and blackberry flavors and a touch of black pepper. Dusty tannins add grip to the sweet, nicely persistent finish.
Manti. Why exactly these came at the end is anyone’s guess, but these giant dumplings, clearly influenced by China, were stuffed with a chewy meat and onions. Tasty, but I prefer the Afghan version.
Honey cake and baklava. Not the syrup covered Middle Eastern kind, but more dry.
Tea with sugar and candied fruit.
Lights from the front of Chaikhana Uzbekistan “coat” the adjacent building.
I’d never had Uzbeki food before, and while it’s certainly closely related to Afghan and Russian, but has its own unique personality. The place was fun too. Very lively and there was even a young guy at a nearby table (see below) playing traditional songs on a guitar. Clearly a place mostly visited by Russians and Uzbeki.
Food was quite good too. Perhaps leaning a bit on the heavy meats and pastry, and I would have liked to try the Borscht and some other dishes too, but everything we had was pretty good. Enormous amount too. We took home bags and bags of it, and the bill was very very reasonable.
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