Thursday, February 22, 2007

Gothamist: Na Zdorovje! Gothamist goes to Vostok:

For the uninitiated, the term Bukharian refers to a community of Central Asian Jews originally coming out of the city of Bukhara in Uzbekistan. When the Soviet borders loosened, a rush of Bukharian Jews arrived stateside, settling mostly in Queens and localized Brooklyn neighborhoods. They brought with them a centuries-old culinary tradition that includes an eclectic range of grains, an emphasis on braised or grilled meats, kosher-inspired foods and a cache of iconic seasoning gleaned from the historic Byzantine spice routes that once traversed the area.

The cultural fiber of Bukharian cuisine is delightfully intact at Vostok, located just off the 55th street stop on the D train. We began our meal with a deep plate of plov (pilaf to the layman’s tongue) tossed with bits of carrot, chickpeas and dense hunks of slow cooked lamb. Samsas and Manti came next—buttery pastries and fist-sized dumplings respectively, each stuffed with seasoned forcemeat and softened onion. Salad Tashkent, a plate of shredded radish mixed with mayonnaise and black pepper was a mild interlude when spooned onto a heel of nigella-flecked non, baked on premises into its characteristic hub shape.