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Feb 21, 2014 06:47 AM

Vostok (Uzbekistan / Bukharan )

Address: 5507 13th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11219

A bit of Jewish Uzbekistan in Brooklyn.

"Uzbek Jews have two distinct communities; the more religious and traditional Bukharan Jewish community and the more progressive, European-in-origin Ashkenazi community." (wiki).

These Jewish people from the Caucasus tend towards the Czech beer Krusovice, as I have seen this in Azerbaijan venues frequented by Bukharian Jews.

A plate of herring and Lox, went well to orient me to the practices of the Jewish people from the region of Central Asia known as Kavkazia. It also went nicely with the Czech beer Krusovice.

I think this represents the Bukharan Jews, if I am correct in saying.

Bukhar was the Jewish capital, meaning the main area for Jewish people who lived in Central Asia. It is located in Kazakhstan.

" Bukhar-Zhyrau District (Kazakh: Бұқар жырау ауданы) is a district of Karagandy Province in central Kazakhstan " (wikipedia)

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  1. Thank you for the review.

    Bukhara is a historically and culturally famous Uzbeki city, while Karagandy, the area you are referring to, is a nomad region in The Central Asia and does not host any Jewish population. Both the cultures and food are quite unrelated, except that both are in The Central Asia and a good 1000 miles away from The Caucasus Ridge (and hence Azerbaijan).

    That was not intended as a criticism, just a clarification. I would imagine Bukharan Jews like both Czech beer and herring, exactly as you said: guess it's the post-Soviet heritage.

    Lox? It was considered a precious-rare high-holiday food in most of the empire; how could Russians not like it? The quality of lox in ethnic Russian stores is quite spectacular, but herring should have quite a distinct taste from what we in the US are used to: very fatty, with no sweetness and no pickle. Neither fish is local to the region.

    8 Replies
    1. re: diprey11

      I had a wrong search. I read about Bukhara a month ago, after going to a venue where I met some Uzbek Jewish people.

      I had a copy of the The Bukharian Times, from my first encounter with Uzbek Jews.

      It was haste, forgetting the 'a' at the end of Bukhara, and sloppy of me to have simply paste the Wiki quote, for Bukhar

      This is Bukhara: "Bukhara (Uzbek: Buxoro; Persian: بخارا‎; Russian: Бухара Bukhara; Turkish: Buhara), from Sanskrit vihara or Soghdian βuxārak ("lucky place"), is the capital of the Bukhara Province (viloyat) of Uzbekistan. Bukhara is a city-museum, with about 140 monuments of architecture.[1] The nation's fifth-largest city, it has a population of 263,400 (2009 census estimate). The region around Bukhara has been inhabited for at least five millennia, and the city has existed for half that time. Located on the Silk Road, the city has long been a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. The historic center of Bukhara, which contains numerous mosques and madrassas, has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Persian-speaking Tajiks constitute the largest element of the city's population. The city has long had a mixed population including Jews and other ethnic minorities." - wikipedia

      1. re: jonkyo

        Yes, Tajiks are very prominent in Bukhara and dominate (the famous city of) Samarkand. Their culture is very different from Uzbeki, and that a telling difference. I live a walking distance from a lively Bukharan/Jewish neighborhood, and that's how I know.

        But--enjoy the food: offal (any part of lamb you can think of--and it's fresh), rice pilav (ask for a green one, aka bakshch--not sure if I spelled it right), manty (larger-size dumplings, oftentimes filled half-way with onions, less delicate skins and more bold flavors compared to what you can get in most of China), samsy (tandoori-baked dough pockets with various fillings). Or try their pan-fried fish (a common Sabbath dish), or a pressed-fry chicken (called tabaka) with a sour and spicy sauce.

        And of course any kind of kebab, because they marinate the meat, which makes it more juicy and tender; ground meat kebabs (lula-kebab) can be quite good too, and so is a grilled sweetbread.

        I suggest you don't waste your time or money on lagman or shurpa (popular noodles/soup): if you ever had decent beef noodles in Taiwan it's all the way down from there.


        1. re: diprey11

          Fried lagman can be well worth the while. Especially at Chayhana Shalom

          1. re: AubWah

            Although I can't really comment on anything in Brooklyn, I will find out and surely give a try, and thanks so much for the tip!

        2. re: jonkyo

          Also, based on the past history :-), You can always, always BYOB into an Uzbeki restaurant, but you are expected to notify the staff and you might be expected to pay a small corking fee or an extra tip. It's not like at your favorite, 老華西街, where all you have to do is put a bottle the table, and the waiter will open it and bring you glasses--all for free and with no questions asked. (Gosh! I miss the Taiwanese service a lot!) If you don't offer to pay a little, they will likely tell you it's not allowed, but negotiation is the key. BTW, Russian beers are pretty awful (tend to be watery) and 青島啤酒 would surely be the king.

          1. re: diprey11

            Thank you for the much informative comments, really.

            BYOB, that is good to know, but all of the Uzbeck and Azberbaijan (Kavkazian) places I know serve beer.

            1. re: diprey11

              My only experience is with Cheburachnaya. They clearly state a corkage fee. At dinner time, nearly every table has a bottle of vodka. Their wines are all kosher, which I hate. Thing is, I don't know if they would allow you to bring in a bottle of wine that wasn't kosher. Maybe if you brought along your own plastic cups.....but most kosher places will not allow you to bring in anything non-kosher. As for beer and vodka, all grain based alcoholic beverages are automatically considered kosher....except on Passover.