I recently got word that one of my close friends is moving to Rego Park (also known to locals as Regostan). In an effort to help her feel at home in her new country, I decided to take a trip to explore the region. Two train rides and one hour later, I was pleased to find myself in a curious amalgam of Asian and Jewish cultures.
First stop- Tandoori Bukharan Bakery and Grill (Rego Park 99-04 63rd Rd 718-897-1071)
It’s hard to believe that this unassuming tiny restaurant, set off the main drag of Queens Boulevard, is home to such a vast assortment of delightful dishes. There isn’t much to talk about in terms of decor, but what you won’t be missing out on here is personality and great food. There are several different shish kabab dishes to choose from, like lamb chops, lola (ground meat), chicken, liver, salmon, the list goes on. Soups include borsch, shurpa and the popular lagman, a Chinese inspired soup with hand pulled noodles, meat and vegetables. I opted for the Pelmeni, a fine soup with handmade beef dumplings swimming in a warm broth of vegetables topped with bits of coriander. One part pho two parts pierogi married to create an intoxicating culinary collision of East Asian and Polish cuisine. Ordered alongside the main dish was a gigantic warm piece of lepeshka. Traditionally baked inside a tandoori oven, this circular loaf of chewy bread is a delicious example of how Russia met India, fell in love and produced a wonderful creation.
As I ferociously devoured my meal, the chef stops at my table and says in his thick accent- “Do you speak Russian? Do you speak English? Our food is Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan… and Jewish.”
That quite sums it up. I couldn’t have written it better myself. But hey, I tried.
Next Stop- Cheburechnaya (Rego Park 92-09 63rd Drive 718-897-9080)
I don’t hesitate to say that Cheburechnaya isn’t known for its ambiance or great service. The You Tube music videos playing on the overhead televisions and the abrupt attitude from the waitress weren’t exactly what you call characteristics of a five star eatery. Despite the lack of atmosphere, I grabbed a seat and proceeded to peruse the unlimited menu, made complete with enticing photographs of the dishes. With plates offering sizable portions of dumplings, meat kebabs, stuffed grape leaves, pilaf, beef brains, I once again found myself caught between cultures where east meets west. A full stomach called for a light snack, so a pumpkin chebureki was ordered with a splash of tarragon soda to wash it down. Much like a savory turnover, this crispy fried dough concoction stuffed with mashed pumpkin and herbs is a great compliment to any dish here. If you have a smaller appetite, you can lightly drizzle the spicy sauce over your chebureki and you practically have yourself a meal.