Sunday, March 27, 2011
Silk Road Bistro, Choyhona, Pikesville, MD
I had a great dinner at an Uzbek restaurant located in Pikesville, MD called Silk Road Bistro, Choyhona. I tried Uzbek food several years ago in New York City, and I was pretty excited to learn of this place much closer to home. Being in central Asia, it's a unique blend of cuisines from the region, taking influence from areas both east and west and making it their own.
We started with a pitcher their "homemade fruit drink" which was a lot like fruit punch. The pitcher had several half pears floating in it. Personally, I found it light and refreshing, but some fellow diners thought it too sweet.
An important part of Uzbek cuisine is the wide variety of "salads". I tried four kinds.
My favorite was suzma with radish, a sour yogurt with lots of dill, cucumbers and sliced radishes.
Second was the Smak, which was chunks of tomato, a firm cheese, crunchy croutons, and garlic tossed in mayonnaise.
In my previous experience with Uzbek cuisine, I had tried the Markovcha, a carrot salad that was influenced by ethnic Koreans who came to central Asia. The salad is made of shredded cabbage, garlic, & onion, and then is slightly pickled with vinegar. It reminds me of the bon chon dishes you get at Korean BBQ.
The last veggie we tried was the eggplant, which was sliced, deep fried, then served cold with garlic and tomato folded inside. This had a lot of garlic in it and was really good.
We ordered a few Tandoori nan, hot out of the oven. Unlike Indian naan, this bread was not flat. The crust was crisp and the inside was dense and filling.
Manti, also well known in Uzbek cuisine, are basically dumplings. We tried a couple kinds on the menu. Silk Road offers the dumplings filled with meat, potato, or pumpkin.
We got a sampling, first, of the crispy manti. We chose to get it with pumpkin. The filling was a little sweet, and these fried manti were served with shredded pickled onions.
I liked the steamed dumplings better. We were recommended to try them with the potato filling. I expected it to be filled with mashed potato like a pierogi, but instead the potato inside was chunked and from the steaming process became very soft. It was served with a side of sour cream.
Following the dumplings, we ordered another well know Uzbek dish, the Pilav, made with rice, carrots and lamb. It also had a bulb of roasted garlic on the side.
We then ordered a wide variety of shish kebabs, primarily the classic lamb, and the beef lulya, which is ground beef with spices. My favorite kabob was the lamb rib, which was on the skewer, but the meat was still attached to the rib bone. These seemed to be more rich in flavor and were very juicy. I also could not resist ordered at least one kebob with veal liver. The kebabs were served with a spicy sauce, pomegranate juice, and pickled onions which all enhanced the meat flavors.
On the menu, they had a "delicatessen kebab" (pic at top). At first I thought it might be a sausage, but they told us it was lamb testicles. We had to try it. It's texture reminded me of a Chinese fish ball or a lighter chicken gizzard. Not bad.
Afterwards, we shared cups of tea, both green and black, and ordered some dessert.
I tried of bite of their baklava, which is not the same as the Mediterranean counterpart. It's not syrupy. Instead it was more of a dry flaky pastry.
We were also told to get their "chocolate ball" which was not on the menu. It reminded me of a large very dense cake doughnut hole drizzled with chocolate sauce.
607 Reisterstown Road