Rating: 8 / 10
It's not every day your food is grilled by a man who looks like a bonafide Bond villain. The man in question has been expertly flipping meat over glistening coals for just over 20 years, more than enough time to turn you into a bonafide professional.
At the recommendations of local blogs I made the detour to this odd neighborhood to try what was touted as Samarkands best shashlik. Having honestly gotten tired of mounds of animal carcasses after barely a few days in Uzbekistan, I tried my best to remain optimistic when all I wanted was a nice vegetarian thali or a decent salad.
My cab hurtled through the identically lined suburbs. Small dusty shops lay scattered amongst new constructions and broken sidewalks. It was a far cry from the glamour and history of downtown Samarkand's Registan. However, far from the glare of tourists was where I felt most at home.
Entering this veritable behemoth of dead cattle was daunting. The interiors were large enough to host a twitch convention with spillover rooms branching off into impossible distances. I chose, naturally, the table furthest from other humans and ordered some meat, bread, salad and a cold drink.
After a few moments I noticed everyone was staring at me. I guess most Uzbeks don't wear all-black and choose solitude over celebration. I kept to myself and waited as I imagined Mr Bond's nemesis seasoning the meats and placing them on that giant grill until the juices ran clear and the fat crisped up.
Placed before me, the feast erupted in celebration. Dreams of vegetarian rendezvous were displaced by carnal lust. I tore into the perfectly cooked meat in rapid attack. The bread and salad were almost forgotten in rabid famishment. Moments flew by in ritual chewing, juice dripping down my chin too quickly for me to care.
After a voluminous burst, I collapsed into the back of my chair, exhausted from combustion. The room dimmed and I stilled to a meditative current of digestion and relief. The bill was paid, a nod to the mysterious chef rendered, and back I was in a different cab seeing the same streets home from an opposing angle.
These recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored in the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"