The cuisine of Uzbekistan reflects the cultures that passed through Central Asia in caravans on the transcontinental Silk Road, and you can sample it at Chayhana Oasis in Sunny Isles Beach.
The menu features meat-stuffed pastries, noodle soups and kebabs plus borscht and ear-shaped Siberian meat dumplings that are a reminder the region was until recently part of the Soviet Union.
Owner Furkat Fayz emigrated with his parents from Tashkent (Stone City) to the United States a decade ago. He studied international business at Florida International University, and started out with a small Uzbek place in a Sunny Isles hotel using his mother’s recipes. Six months ago he opened the more opulent Oasis, with its ornately carved wooden screens and richly patterned fabrics, bringing in chef Muzaffar Hudaybergenov from his homeland to run the kitchen.
Uzbek cuisine has Persian, Indian, Turkish, Middle Eastern, Mongolian and Chinese influences. The teahouse or chayhana is a meeting place where friends chat and sip endless cups of green tea.
To accompany tea here, there are flaky pastry triangles called samsa stuffed with ground lamb, round bread with sesame seeds and cheburek (deep-fried dough balloons stuffed with minced beef).
Plov is a form of pilaf made with spiced rice, carrots, lamb and whole garlic cloves, good here with the nest salad, a mix of shredded cucumber, beef and peas in mayo sauce sprinkled with crisp potato straws and topped with quail eggs.
Manty are big, round dumplings stuffed with lamb and fried onions, served with sour cream. Hanum is a long, thin sheet of dough stuffed with a potato mixture and rolled up like a snail and steamed.
Meringue kisses stuffed with walnuts and bits of dried pasta make for a sweet end to an exotic meal.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who blogs at FoodIndiaCook.com.