Dec 23 2012


“Uzbekistana” restaurant serves typical Uzbekistan cuisine, and as Latvia was part of the USSR not so long ago, there is a big influence in food that Latvians eat from various Russian and Central Asian cultures and recently there have been a lot of Central Asian restaurants opening up in Latvia which are very popular. “Uzbekistana” is very popular, which as I have mentioned before is so rare in Latvia, as most of the restaurants are quite empty in Riga due to many reasons (people can’t afford to eat out, it is not yet our culture to eat out, etc…), but “Uzbekistana” is always full of people, because the food they offer is so delicious and also reasonably priced if you like this type of food. I first heard about this place a few years ago when my friend Kristaps told me about a new restaurant that serves delicious and good value for money food and is always busy and you need to book. The place also has character as it has 4 different rooms, not really separated by a door, but all of them are a bit different in terms of their décor and in the main dining room there is a table laid full with Uzbek sweets and fruit which looks extremely appetising. The decorative items like the woven carpets, and the antique statuettes and tableware bearing the original Uzbek symbolic in the restaurant are apparently imported from Asia, and apparently the musical instruments which are decorating the rooms are made from age-old grapevine stock and their strings are made of lamb entrails (and apparently they all work, so if you can, you are welcome to play them), so the atmosphere is nice inside, made even more authentic by the fact that the waitresses are wearing traditional Uzbek attire. Also they have a special tandir oven which was delivered from Uzbekistan where they bake their bread, which we also had during this visit. Also a really cool fact about this place is that the main chef Tadjibaev Akhral is Uzbek, and has worked in Tashkent and Moscow before landing in Riga and he has selected all his staff himself from Uzbekistan. I have been there a few times and have always had a great time, and this time for lunch Baiba and I decided to go there as well. “Uzbekistana” now has 2 branches, one in the centre of Riga, on Bruninieku street (the one we went to) and another branch located in Jurmala, a Latvian seaside town. There were 5 of us having lunch, and we decided to order some starters to share, and we had the typical pickled and salted vegetable plate, which I love and which had tomatoes, green beans, garlic, cucumbers and cabbage, all pickled and delicious. We also shared a “Čeburek” which is a type of bread filled with minced lamb, and it was very delicious (I had had one of these Čebureks in my dad’s flat a few days ago that he had bought in a shop and the difference between the 2 was remarkable and the one served in “Uzbekistana” much much better), bread from their Tandir oven and also “manti” which are large dumplings and we had them filled with lamb and served with sour cream, also very delicious. “Uzbekistana” offers a large variety of soups in their menu and we decided to have some before our main course. I ordered 2 soups for me and my boyfriend to share, a soup called “Mampar” that had lamb with small dumplings and a fried egg on top, and another soup called “Lagman” which had lamb, home-made noodles, vegetables and spices. Despite the fact they were very differently described on the menu, the 2 soups were almost the same and to me the only difference seemed to be that one had egg on top and smaller dumplings and the other one had larger noodles but both tasted exactly the same (still very good and delicious, but quite funny). My friend Baiba and her brother both had a soup called “Čučvara” which had lamb dumplings in a clear broth and served with sour cream, and even though I did not try this one, it did look at least very different to the 2 soups we had, and they seemed to enjoy it. For the main course I ordered some Uzbekistan plov, which is a typical dish from Uzbekistan and has lamb, rice, carrots and spices all cooked together, and also a selection of Šašliki (shashliks or kebabs) that we were going to share between me, my brother and my boyfriend. The plov was amazing, it was extremely delicious and just very well made plov, the rice was soft, tender and full of flavour. The Šašliki they served over hot coals in a special grill, and the selection included lamb meat, veal, and lulja kebab. We were also supposed to have lamb liver, but as my boyfriend and brother love chicken and insisted on having chicken instead, we managed to swap the lamb liver for some chicken (it was not easy though and at first the waitress told us no and only after we told her to speak to the manager, she allowed us to make this change). I had also ordered a tomatoe salad with chilli, onions and basil called “Ačučuk” to go with the kebabs but the waitress only remembered to bring that at the end when we had already finished our meal, so I did not eat it, and asked for it to be removed from the bill, which they were nice enough to do, so you can see how the service could have been a bit better in some instances, but then again in Latvia restaurants don’t really put a lot of emphasis on service. I really liked “Uzbekistana” restaurant, and have always liked it, and this is the place I go to if I want this type of food, as the food is always delicious, authentic and affordable, which is why this place is so popular. In London in a similar restaurant Samarqand I paid 3 or 4 times more for the food and I can’t say it was better. And another amazing thing that Uzbekistan has is – they have a website!!! It is so rare to find Latvian restaurants that have a website, and “Uzbekistana”’s website is in 3 different languages (Latvian, English and Russian) and you can see the menu, the prices and read their story there, which is a new thing for Latvian restaurants. Also Uzbekistan’s owners now own 2 other restaurants in Riga (and as I mentioned another Uzbekistan restaurant in Jurmala), so another trend in Latvia that is evolving but has been around in other countries for years, is that now more owners run more than one restaurants, which improves the quality of restaurants as you have professional people running them.
Date: 23/12/12
Location: Riga

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Bruņinieku iela 33 LV-1001
Uzbekistana Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 4