Curious about Russian food? Chaikhana Uzbekistan in Northeast Philly is a good choice for the adventurous diner. Featuring cuisine from Uzbekistan, a Central Asian province of the former Soviet Union, Chaikhana offers an assortment of traditional foods designed to remind area expatriates of home. Thankfully the rest of us can get a “taste of home” too.
We would never have found Chaikhana Uzbekistan if it wasn’t for our Russian culinary guide Denis, who gave us the 411 on good Russian food in Philly. Having emigrated from Ukraine and now living in the area, we couldn’t have found a better source. It doesn’t hurt that his family used to run a restaurant just a few blocks away, either.
Located in the Bustleton section of the Northeast, Chaikhana is in the heart of Philadelphia’s Russian community. Arriving to a warm pot of tea on a cold day, Denis took control of the lunch menu to give us some authentic Russian flavor by showing us some commonly eaten dishes. I was interested to learn that Uzbek cuisine is remarkably similar to that of foods from the near east, like India and Pakistan. In fact, Tushar was able to identify a number of the items found on the menu. In addition, we learned of other commonalities in the cuisines, such as the use of the Tandoor ovenÂ in the preparation of meals.
Sipping our tea, Denis spoke briefly with our server who returned shortly afterward with:
Lepyoshka - A traditional Uzbek bread commonly served with tea
Fresh Vegetable Salad - A fresh green salad tossed in a light vinegar and oil dressing
Samsa Tandori - A rounded dumpling filled with ground meat, onion and celery served with a ketchup-like tomato sauce
Digging into our appetizers, I found each delicious and freshly prepared. The Lepyoshka is a light, leavened bread similar to Naan, and topped with Sesame seeds for flavor - delicious. The Samsa Tandor was also good; resembling a form of meat pie, it’s substantial and would offer anyone a great snack.
A short time later, our server arrived with a soup course that consisted of:
Shurpa - Lamb soup with root vegetables
Lagman - Vegetable soup with vegetables, pasta and Dill
Zharenaya Kartoshka - Thinly sliced potatoes, fried and herbed with Dill
Our soups and potatoes while hearty, were remarkably light in flavor and satisfying. The lamb in the Shurpa was very good and not heavy. Regardless, I think my favorite was the Lagman, which was herbed with Dill and offered unique noodles, reminiscent of homemade pasta. Learn more about Shurpa and Lagman here.
By this point in the meal, we were almost stuffed but thankfully we had paced ourselves, because our last course arrived promptly: A variety of Kebabs:
Lamb Shish Kebab
Chicken Shish Kebab
Lula Kebab - Ground Lamb and Beef. Similar to Shawarma
Although simple in concept, these skewers of well marinated lamb, chicken and ground meat were the highlight of the meal. Grilled over an open flame, each Kebab was tender yet offered the slight crunch often found with grilled meats. The most interesting item was the Lula Kebab while the flavor of the Chicken Shish Kebab was best.
Overall, our visit to Chaikhana Uzbekistan was not only fun, but delicious. Clearly, we had it easy with Denis our culinary guide, but everyone should enjoy themselves. The restaurant is clean and inviting, while the staff helpful. Don’t be distracted if your server doesn’t speak English; the menu features both Russian and English item descriptions. Lastly, our feast was moderately priced at about $17 per person, but we ate like pigs. Take a trip down the Silk Road to visit Chaikhana Uzbekistan, you’ll be glad you did.
Chaikhana Uzbekistan is located at 11903 Bustleton Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19116 (215) 677-6618
[Tags]Philadelphia, Northeast Philly, Russian Food, Uzbek Food, Chaikhana Uzbekistan, Podcast[/Tags]