Rating: 6 / 10
Let's be frank, I would never have come here based on name alone. Despite the bizarre christenings, this restaurant was suspended high above the top tier listings on every Uzbek blog. Tourists raved about the "Asia-meets-Central Asia" fusion cuisine, which was almost enough to give it a wide berth, but when my Airbnb host also professed his undying love for the place I gave in.
As the curtains parted I entered a monumentally large restaurant, almost entirely empty. I have spoken before about choosing off-peak times to eat due to my abhorrence of eating around screaming kids and heaving recepticles, but with Covid-19 beginning to make the news, the lack of prospective hosts was also welcome.
The server offered me the gargantuan menu and idled off to stand in the corner on her phone. I generally find no joy in insanely large menu's because it means the chef has no distinct style and surely cannot have mastered 392 different dishes. I went for Somsa being a national treasure of Uzbekistan, and a "fusion soup" to test the waters of his creativity.
More of a main course size portion, the somsa came out piping hot and ready to be destroyed. I clumsily burnt myself repeatedly being too hungry to wait for them to cool down. They were a pretty good introduction to Somsa but would definitely not be the best I tried on my trip. The filling was lacking in seasoning and the dipping sauce served little purpose. Pastry-wise it was perfectly crunchy and pleasurable.
The soup was a let down. If the chef had just stuck to making a decent beef noodle soup it would have sufficed, but he couldn't resist trying to show off with a few too many ingredients and must have not been watching when he poured in the vinegar. It tasted visciously astringent. Overpoweringly so. My enjoyment of the rest of the dish was halted by the purveying influence that broth had in getting into every nook, cranny, morsel and mouthful. It wasn't unpalatable, just that it was so noticeably aggressive that it tempered every other flavour into submission.
Having eaten at a basic local place the day before, and enjoyed that heaps more, not to mention the size of the bill, I decided to concentrate my visit in Uzbekistan to the more humble establishments and leave these kinds of places to those who find more pleasure in being seen than eating good food.
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"