Silk Road Bistro Chohyona- Uzbek Cuisine in Pikesville, MD
Went to a real find last weekend. An Uzbek restaurant in Pikesville called Silk Road Choyhona Bistro. It was recommended by some folks I met, one who was from Uzbekistan.
I've had Uzbek food in Brooklyn a few years ago, and armed with some little knowledge of the cuisine, this meal turned out better than the NY experience.
The place is BYOB. We started with a pitcher of their housemade fruit drink- kind of like a less sweet kool-aid with pear halves floating in it.
We started with a sampling of Uzbek "salads": Smak- tomato, croutons, cheese & mayo; suzma with radish- a sour yogurt with dill & cucumbers; Markovcha, a Korean influenced shredded carrot salad with garlic, vinegar, dill; and fried eggplant served cold folded with garlic & tomato.
We had the Uzbek Tandoori Nan bread which is not flat like Indian naan, rather it is like a boule with the middle collapsed. It's very dense.
The Pilav is like "pilaf"- a rice dish with carrots and lamb.
We ordered several kinds of kebab- including beef lulya, lamb, lamb rib (which is on a bone), and liver. My favorite was the lamb rib- very juicy and tender. They serve the meats with a spicy sauce, pickled onions, and pomengranate juice.
For dessert, I tried the baklava, which unlike it's Mediterranean counterpart, is not wet & syrupy- it's more like a dry flaky pastry. I also had the "chocolate ball" (not on the menu) which is like a dense cake doughnut hole drizzled with chocolate sauce.
it came to about $16/person for 8 people
607 Reisterstown Road
This place is quite a find. Everything I tried here sent me reeling halfway across the world. The only downside was the lamb over the pilav was terribly dried out.
pilav, very short and fat grains of rice with carrots
eggplant salad, my favorite, nothing like it elsewhere in the area
samsa, pastry stuffed with meat with a very good flaky crust
crispy manti, well executed
Anyone with a mind for food exploration should find a lot to like about eating here.
Sorry to say, we weren't as enamored as others. Our experience was mixed. The fruit drink was like a sweeter, more disgusting version of kool aid. I think maybe it's intended to be mixed with vodka. The eggplant salad was fantastic and pretty. The naan was like a big, delicious, soft bagel. The pumpkin samsa was tasty, but clearly microwaved, and served on the same napkin it was microwaved on, which was so stuck on the bottom that I had to rip off the bottom of the pastry crust to eat it. Both the jiz-biz and the beef "tenderloin" kabob were inordinately grisly and fatty. There were some edible pieces of both, but some really disgusting pieces as well. The fries were hot and crispy. I think it's probably possible to have a nice meal here if you order carefully, but given that it's a 25-minute drive for us, I'm not sure we'll be back.
Sixteen chowhounds assembled ourselves along one long wall of this cozy and atmospheric little bistro earlier this week, and were mightily impressed with the variety and quality of the fare, as well as the gracious service.
As 1000yregg mentions, it is byob, so feel free to bring wine or beer with you (our table was mostly wine drinkers, but I’d bring beer next time).
The décor is charming - wall panels evocative of the central Asian adobe straw /bark exteriors, ikat cloth on the tables, and cheery ceramics helped transform the room. Pitchers of ice water spiked with fresh lemons and house-made fruit drink with pear halves floating in the red liquid arrived to start our meal. I also opted for a pot of very good traditional Uzbek green tea.
We ordered everything but desserts as a group so that all could share. We sampled:
*Nejnost – beef tongue, egg, cucumber and peas in mayonnaise. I’d order this again above the next three , although it is not “light” going.
*Smak -- cubes of croutons and mozzarella cheese with tomato and garlic in mayonnaise
*Markovcha – shredded carrot slaw
*Suzma – cucumber and dill salad in a yogurt sauce
*Eggplant “salad” – eggplant rounds folded in half and stuffed with tomato. Fried golden brown and served cold. This dish disappeared fast. It was the best of the lot.
*Pilav – a very rich rice pilaf, topped with carrot and chunks of deep roasted lamb. The richness of the rice seemed to come from a fat - rendered from the lamp perhaps? Really wonderful flavors, and if we hadn’t ordered so many other dishes, this would have been enough for me.
*Samsa – described on the menu as containing meat – ours were round flaky pastries stuffed with either pumpkin or potato. A must-try.
*Manti – looking like giant Chinese xiao long bao, these were dumplings stuffed with cubed potato and topped with a sour crème sauce served on the side. Think potato pierogi and you’ll be on the right track. I loved this dish for its simplicity and supple texture.
*Crispy Manti – looking like deep fried giant raviolis – filiings were either pumpkin or potato. The platters came to the table with the manti sizzling hot and as we were about mid-way through the feast. I’d try it again when there were fewer choices on the table.
*Potatoes with mushrooms – Thin soft french fries smothered with sautéed mushrooms and onions. What’s not to like?
*Nan – a misnomer. This is leavened bread – a dense white bread round cut into wedges. One round was more than enough for eight people, and given the number of other dishes we ordered, this would be the one to leave off.
*Beef lulya – chopped beef. Good spicing, livened with the sauces
*Lamb cubes – perfection on a stick
*Lamb ribs (about 2-inch bones). Nice riblets and very tasty.
*Veal liver – mild flavor and good texture. Not a heavy liver flavor at all.
*“Delicatessen” – which I dubbed “delica-testicles.” Those who tried it enjoyed it very much.
All served with sides of onion slivers, a spicy/chunky tomato-based gravy and a thick Uzbek pomegranate sauce.
Eggplant “salad” and Nejnost salad, Pilav, Pumpkin Samsa, Manti, Lamb and Lam rib kebabs.
The total tab came to $16. Needless to say, this unconscionably low price was well-supplemented by the group.
The room was not very busy on this weeknight, so I would encourage chowhounds to make a pilgrimage out Reisterstown Road and give this place some of your dining dollars. Plenty of free parking, and it’s fairly close to, and inside the beltway.
I've been twice, and would also recommend the Tashkent Salad, which is very much like an Bulgarian Shopska salad. The salad is described as coming with feta cheese, but it's actually sirene. It's a wonderful thing.
We also loved the "Ravoli" soup, and the manti, which are dumplings.
I've had Central Asian food, specifically Uzbek, is Brooklyn and Queens; I've had Kyrgy food in Chicago, and I have to say that the food at Silk Road is the best that I've had. (Of course, I've yet to eat it at the source, although that region is on the list.)
Silk Road is also inexpensive, the people and service is lovely, and they have a beautiful suzani over the windows. Yes, describing it as a "find" is apt. In fact, I deemed it the "Grace Garden of Central Asian food!"
Ellen, where in Chicago is there a Kyrgyz restaurant?
Thanks for the review, 1000yregg!! I am in MoCo now, but just may trek up to Pikesville for this! I love me a good plov, and their shashlik looked great. I'm now feeling nostalgic for Central Asian food (which isn't all that fantastic, generally. Very light on veggies and very heavy on fat.)
I was thinking of you, verena, when I was there. The Kyrgyz place is called Jibek Jolu and is in Lincoln Square. http://www.jibekjolu.com/
If you've not been to Cafe at Your Mother in Law, a Korean-Uzbek place in Brooklyn, it should be on your list, too.
Also, twice now I've heard of an Azeri place on Owings Mills Blvd. One review said it very good, and one claimed it very standard Middle Eastern food.
(When I've read guidebooks about travel to Central Asia, a point is always made that food is not a highlight. I have the feeling that Central Asian food but be the type that is generally better prepared not in its original region, since what I've had domestically has generally been very good.)