Noodles From The "-stan" Countries
Dear Mr. Gold:
Anne Fishbein the invisible restaurant critic
I dearly miss the hand-pulled lagman noodles at the long-shuttered Uzbekistan in Hollywood. The significant chew and the hearty accompanying lamb and vegetable sauce still haunts my memories. I've yet to find a replacement of the Central Asia variety opposed to the welcomed, but different, Chinese pulled pleasure. Anywhere you can steer this noodle lover with a pang for the -stan countries' take on lamian?
--Gregory Han, Silver Lake
Dear Mr. Han:
I miss Uzbekistan Restaurant, too. In New York City, of course, there are dozens of Uzbek restaurants, mostly specializing in meaty kosher dishes, plov and an unusual kind of bread that resembles a satellite dish fashioned from matzoh, but it's much harder to find here. Bialys the size of toilet-seat lids? We're out of luck.
I've always hoped that the team behind Uzbekistan Restaurant would pop up somewhere, but so far, at least to my knowledge, chuchvara, chanum and hasip are trapped in dreams.
You could always visit the Tashkent deli in North Hollywood, which has a few Uzbek dishes, including a serviceable, cumin-laced plov, the primordial Uzbek pilaf, among the Russian delicacies, but I've never seen lagman.
But as you correctly imply, Uzbekistan abuts that part of Central Asia where the -stans push together into the Xinxiang region of China -- Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan -- so that the actual difference between thick, handmade Uzbek lagman with lamb and vegetables and thick, handmade Uygher lamian with lamb and vegetables may be basically semantic. I'm afraid it's back to Omar's Xinxiang Restaurant for you.