27 (Thu) May 2010
at Cafe Uzbekistan
-Gwanghui, Jung, Seoul, Korea-
Interestingly, Seoul has an ethnic enclave for Central Asia. It started out as a Russian thing but expanded to cover other countries in the region, such as Uzbekistan and other “stans,” as well as Mongolia, which currently seems to have become the pond’s big fish. It’s been known by several names throughout the years, from “Russia Town” to “Central Asia Village, and now “Little Mongolia.” Beyond the landmark 10-story Mongol Tower, it’s mostly a bunch of random businesses adorned in Cyrillic signage – mobile phone stores, groceries, restaurants – all clustered within a few blocks. It’s situated south of the Dongdaemun shopping district, just north of Exit 5 on the Dongdaemun Historical and Cultural Park station on Lines 2/4/5.
Cafe Uzbekistan is a restaurant specializing in Uzbek cuisine.
This evening marked my first experience in the area, at the restaurant, with the food.
A lot of the dishes were familiar, similar to dishes more commonly attributed to the cuisines of neighboring countries, like borsh (see below) and kebabs (see below). Their staple bread is oni non, which is cooked in a tandir oven, almost exactly like tandoori-cooked naan from India. Their meat dumpling manty looked and tasted like Chinese mantou and/or Korean mandu. My favorite was goluptsy: ground lamb and rice stuffed in a cabbage leaf and half of a paprika shell, steamed, and served with wedges of potato and carrot in a light broth. It was all pretty good, if unremarkably so. Every dish was about 8,000 won, which didn’t seem that bad at first, but the little plates piled up in the end.