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May 18, 2007 02:20 PM

Salute vs. Cheburechnaya?

I am a huge fan of Cheburechnaya (Uzbek/Bukharian meat fest in Rego Park). I have read a lot about Salute, and have tried to go there on two occasions but have not succeeded - both times it was packed, and the staff was less than courteous and was not willing to even tell us how long we would have to wait for a table. I have half a mind to give up - Cheburechnaya rocks my world, I've never had a problem getting a table (it's huge), and the servers know me at this point and practically bring out the lamb testicles before I have to ask for them. But there's still a lingering doubt in my mind- am I missing out on something incredible at Salute? Do I owe it to myself to give it another chance?

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  1. Bag them both and head for ARZU on North side of Queens Blvd. & 67th Road...the skewers were perfect and it seemed like every table was plunging a fork into a steamer full of meat dumplings.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mike R.

      Do you happen to know if Arzu is kosher?

    2. Benny,
      I've been to Salut on far more occasions than I have Cheburechnaya, and I completely concur with your experience at both places. Cheburechnaya is far more open, friendlier, plus, let's face it, they have lamb testicles.
      I would vouche for the food at Salut, specifically the lagman, the kebabs, breads and the soft, dill-dusted fries. Plus, if you go there in the early afternoon, you might be lucky enough to catch some old Soviet block cartoons on the tube. If, for no other reason than to establish a basis for comparison, I would recommend that you give in to your lingering doubts and give it another shot. I posted not so long ago about having been snubbed at nearby Arzu, but I have every intention of going back and trying again. It's all about the food.

      12 Replies
      1. re: Polecat

        Well, we finally tried Arzu last night (as I mentioned before, we have been to Cheburechnaya many times, but nowhere else). I have to say, I could not detect an appreciable difference in terms of food quality, preparation, or price. Lagman was a little more meaty than Cheburechnaya's, but as a result, more greasy (which is a good or bad thing, depending on how you look at it). The bread was the same as at Cheburechnaya. Meat samsa seemed basically the same - the meat may have been a little tastier at Arzu, but the rib samsa at Cheb is better than the regular meat samsa anyway. The manty (steamed meat dumplings) were really nice (and i don't think you can get those at Cheb), but had the same filling as the samsa. As for the kebabs- we had lamb ribs, chicken with bone, and veal liver. The lamb ribs at Cheburechnaya have more meat on them, and they give you more ribs; the chicken with bone at Arzu was spiced a little more heavily and perhaps a bit more juicy, but I've never had a problem with the boneless chicken at Cheburechnaya. The veal liver at Arzu was better- cooked perfectly, crispy on the outside creamy on the inside, with a couple of pieces of fat in between the chunks of liver- but again, they give you more meat at Cheburechnaya, and I think the price is basically the same. The fries at Cheburechnaya, with the minced garlic, are better. The menu at Cheburechnaya is also considerably more extensive, including organ meats (brains, heart, testicles) that Arzu doesn't offer, as well as appetizers like babaganoush. Cheburechnaya also has a slightly nicer dining space (tv sets blaring Russian music videos, the open grill where the cooks fling skewers of hot meat over to the scurrying waitresses). Not to mention that I still find the Cheburechnaya staff to be a little bit more friendly (read: less surly).
        So, for my money, I'm still going to frequent Cheburechnaya, unless someone tells me that I missed something at Arzu that will radically change my life. (But I should add that both of these restaurants have a special place in my heart- we only eat kosher meat, and live in Astoria where kosher meat is non-existant, so these Bukharian places fill a much-needed void, and then some. Even in Manhattan and other parts of Queens and Brooklyn, where kosher meat restaurants abound, they are often very expensive and quite bad- so Cheburechnaya, Arzu, and their ilk are very special places.).

        1. re: bennyt

          Since you seem to make it out there often, perhaps you might want to check out these other similar restaurants (and post your opinions). I'm assuming they're all kosher, but it's up to you to verify.

          Tandoori Bukharian Bakery
          99-04 63rd Rd.

          102-03A Queens Boulevard

          Gan Eden
          102-11 Queens Blvd
          (718) 459-8800

          64-47 108th St
          (718) 275-2220

          1. re: Joe MacBu

            Shalom was great. Their salmon kebabs were as tender and flavorful as anything available at Cheburechnaya or Salut. Alas, it's no more, having been replaced by another business, or so it seems from the vastly different name on the sign. This particular storefront has gone through multiple changes in recent years, having been Beautiful Bukhara prior to its' incarnation as Shalom. To add to your list, there is the somewhat forbidding King David Restaurant, directly across Queens Blvd from Arzu, which I'm guessing is also of the Central Asian variety.

            1. re: Joe MacBu

              Fantastic! Thanks so much for posting this. I will definitely check out those other places (and perhaps the "somewhat forbidding" King David as well- it really does look like a fortress right there on Queens Blvd, doesn't it?). Will report back.

              1. re: bennyt

                hope you survive! awaiting details . . . something tells me its more of a banquet place [kind of like Da Mikael (sp?)] or even Number 1 Restaurant.

              2. re: Joe MacBu

                I had lunch at Tandoori Bukharian on Sunday. Overall, everything was decent to good, but a notch below what I've had at Cheburechnaya. The lula kabab was not as moist and buttery; the plov was underseasoned a bit with dryish chunks of meat. The samsa was larger with a more generous lamb filling than at Cheburechnaya and the borscht (with meat) was quite good. The manty looked very plump, though we (unfortunately) did not order any.

                For those who care, this place is definately Kosher.

              3. re: bennyt

                I've been to both, but I'm a bigger fan of Arzu. Cheburechnaya is good for grilled meats, and Arzu is good at Uighur specialties like lagman and manti. I care for the latter, hence the preference, grilled meat-wise places in Brighton Beach put both places to shame - you get twice as much and better quality meat there.

                1. re: welle

                  Welle, not to get too off-topic here, but WHICH places in Brighton Beach, and are they (or any of them) kosher?!? Just a guess, but if they're not kosher, that might account for better quality and quantity/price -- not that it would help me, bcs I, too, am kosher.

                  1. re: fmogul

                    The place I know that has skewered meat is Eastern Feast - big juicy chunks of lamb. Not sure if they're kosher, however, I'm pretty sure many places in BB have at least similar portions.

                2. re: bennyt

                  Just want to amend this - we went to Cheburchnaya earlier in the week, and manty was, in fact, on the menu, and in my opinion, they were better than the manty at Arzu.

                  1. re: bigjeff

                    63-42 108th Street. Closest train is probably the 63rd Road R, V or G stop.
                    There's also a very good Russian/Bukharan/Central Asian food market on the same block. Enjoy.

                3. I *think* that Zhemchuzhina (which means "pearl") replaced Shalom. I've been to Zhemchuzhina and Salut and far preferred Zhemchuzhina. What I particularly remember is the soups--their borscht and a beef stew with homemade noodles were both delish. And the waitress was very sweet.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: extrajos

                    Is there a second for Zhemchuzhina? I'm taking some people out for dinner Thursday, and am deciding which to go to: Salut, Zhemchuzhina (formerly Shalom's), or Cheburechnaya.
                    Is Zhemchuzhina BYOB like Shalom's was?
                    Also, does anyone know if plov has cilantro in it? I'm one of those people who can't eat cilantro (it's like biting tin foil to me), but heard that the plov is great, although you have to order in advance. But if there's cilantro, I'm screwed. Anyone know how ot say no cilantro in Russian?

                    1. re: hreisig

                      I don't know about Zhemchuzhina, but Cheburechnaya is definitely BYOB and it's a better option than Salute in that you should have no problem getting a table. The owner (Bentzion or Tzion, I think his name is) definitely speaks English, so you can ask him about cilantro.

                      1. re: bennyt

                        I went with family to Zhemchuzhina (formerly Shalom, with same phone number) last night and had a wonderful time. We got there at 7, and were alone until others starting coming in at 8. Waitress who spoke English was super friendly. She happily put wine in fridge to cool off a bit - its BYOB, but kosher wines only (we found a nice aussie syrah by Becketts Flats), washed off some plums my aunt brought in for dessert and helped make suggestions. The other waitress was just as nice, but only spoke a few words of English.
                        Everything was outstanding, and I highly recommend trying the samsa (similar to samosa), norni (?) a cold pasta dish with bits of roast beef and lots of coriander seed, the lamb rib kabobs, and the sweetbreads. Also get some of the excellent cabbage salad and tomatoes and onions, which have a very light but beautifully spicy dressing to cut through the rich meats. All the food was delicious, very inexpensive, and I'm going back soon to try what I didn't have room for.
                        A great food trip! Thanks everyone!

                        1. re: hreisig

                          I'm guessing that, based on your description, although perhaps under new ownership, they retained their kitchen and waitstaff. Shalom also served excellent food, and the waitress was very friendly and helpful, the service being head and shoulders above places like Salute and Arzu. This is very good news. Thanks for the report.

                      2. re: hreisig

                        I had dinner at Zhemchuzhina tonight. Overall, it was not as good as Cheburechnaya, Salute or Tandoori. The lamb filling in the manti (dumplings) was very gristly. The lulya kabab was a bit dry. The Georgian style soup of lamb and barley needed much more salt. A cabbage salad was refreshingly sour and made a good accompaniment to the meats. Chebureks were pretty good but the plov was nothing special.

                        This is however, the friendliest Uzbek place I've been to. The waitress spoke perfect English and was very accommodating. She even offered to split the soup into individual bowls for each diner.

                        We took along a bottle of kosher wine. When I asked if we were allowed to bring our own, the waitress said yes, but that we had to keep the bottle on the floor since it was not allowed to be on the table. That was a first for me.

                    2. Of the Rego Park restaurants mentioned in this thread, which are easiest to reach with public transportation?

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: lucybobo

                        Arzu and Cheburechnaya for me. For the former - 67th ave stop (get in front of the train from Manhattan and get out Northern side of Queens blvd.), for latter, 63rd dr. stop, south side of Q. blvd. walk 1-2 blocks south on 63rd drive.

                        1. re: welle

                          There was a little blurb about Cheburechnaya in the latest "Cheap Eats" issue of TimeOut New York (p. 23). The reviewer mentioned the lagman and the samsas as highlights, but said nothing about the grilled meat! I wrote a scathing letter to the editor (how could they not mention lamb testicles?!). We'll see if it makes it into the magazine.

                        2. re: lucybobo

                          Why has no one mentioned Vostok?? I don't know if it's kosher, I suspect not but could be wrong, but it's really fantastic. Close to public transportation, less than a block from the station.

                            1. re: bennyt

                              Benny, check out this thread, esp SteveR's post....I was with that group. We have gone twice (so far) and the food has been fantastic. Sofia has a real talent for grilled meats, the salads are great, the manti and samsa are great...really everything was very good, and we ate an obscene amount. The staff are great. Definitely a place to go with a group of people. Oddly enough both times we went they were not exactly open, the first time they were renovating, and the second time it was perhaps a jewish any case, they accomodated us and we had a great time. Again, not at all sure if it's kosher, I suspect not. Can't wait to go back.

                        3. The original comment has been removed
                          1. Which is the place that has music? I was somewhere next to what once was Uzbek Cultural Center, they had live music, a dancing fiddler with a yarmulkah, etc.

                            I want to plan a big blowout for my b'day.

                            By the way, I'm a Salute fan.