Located on Charlotte Street, is Samarkand, London’s first Uzbeki restaurant. London is my favourite city in the world purely because you could dine at a restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner, for every day of your life and still not have experienced every restaurant due to the sheer speed in which new restaurants open. I love the varied, multicultural aspect of it and trying new cuisine is always exciting, especially if you have haven’t travelled to a certain destination yet.
We arrived through the beautiful blue tiled entrance, scented beautifully, and walked down some stairs to the main area with a spacious dining room and an open kitchen.
First we went to the bar area, which boasts 40 different types of vodka and had a cocktail while we waited for our table to be ready. I loved all the various bottle shapes displayed in the cabinet as well as the variety of flavours.
We then settled down on the high stools at the open kitchen counter, where we had a chopping board, knife and bowl laid out in front of us in preparation for a masterclass in making Manti. Manti are a type of dumpling, usually filled with lamb or beef.
There was also a small bowl full of spices, which was aromatic. I could definitely sniff out my favourite spice Cumin.
The chef came round and gave us some beef, lamb and white onion to slice in preparation for our Manti masterclass.
We were then given the dough cut into squares, to fill and parcel up like dumplings. It is fair to say that everyone had differing and very unusual shapes going on with the dumplings.
These were then taken away to be cooked whilst we settled down at a large long table, to try some more Uzbeki dishes.
We started off with the Baklajon, an Uzbek style smoked aubergine caviar served with some thin flatbreads, and Somsa, which are puff pastry parcels filled with meat or pumpkin.
Then arrived the Manti we had prepared earlier, in their various shapes. They were ok and not amazing as they had been filled in varying ways. It would have been good to have tried the restaurant’s version to compare how well we fared at making them.
Plov, which is a dish made up of beef short ribs which is sat on a bed of carrots and special Uzbek rice that is imported in, was our main dish. It was garnished with pomegranate, chickpeas, eggs and barberries.
Accompanying this dish was a shot glass of vodka that is supposed to be sipped in between mouthfuls. The vodka breaks up the oil and fat from the meat. Interesting concept and one I had never come across before.
On to desserts, always my favourite part of a meal! The first dessert was a poached pear with a barberry ice cream served on a bed of crushed pistachios and pomegranates. I loved the pear and loved the presentation.
The second dessert, which was my favourite, was the Baklava cake served with Vanilla ice cream. There have been mixed reactions to the Baklava in cake form but I really enjoyed it.
The restaurant is massive, spacious and modern. I love the decor and the interiors and the relaxed vibe. The location is fantastic and the service is really good.
In terms of Uzbeki cuisine, it is very different and I would say go in with an open mind. It can be daunting looking at a menu with unfamiliar names on it as it is London’s first Uzbeki restaurant but it also has dishes which are reminiscent of other countries within its proximity, and so there are bound to be dishes you will enjoy.
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Our dinner and drinks were complimentary however all views and photos are my own.