Last night I had my first taste of food from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan at Samarqand restaurant.
As it turned out, Central Asian cuisine wasn’t drastically different from anything I’d had before – the menu included dumplings, noodles and kebabs – and the sleek decor and friendly staff combined to make a very enjoyable evening.
We started off with vodka-based cocktails as recommended by our enthusiastic waiter (we agreed with his choice). There’s a lounge area if you’d just like to sample the excellent cocktails.
I picked vegetarian options from the menu; Lazzat (fried aubergine salad) to start and manty (steamed pumpkin dumplings) for main. However, our waiter was adamant that lamb is the real speciality at Samarqand so my friend dutifully ordered lamb shashlik.
Portions were on the small side but the food is quite heavy so there were no worries about it being filling enough.
We were recommended the Napoleon cake for dessert which contains layers of puff pastry and cream, and that the waiter told us is just as good as the one his mum makes in Uzbekistan! He also egged us on to try zebra chocolate cake – a chocolate sponge with a light chocolate filling. Both desserts were rich and sweet.
We took the richness off the dessert with a pot of delicious jasmine tea, served the traditional Uzbekistani way: poured into small bowls and back into the tea pot three times before drinking.
Samarqand has lots going for it; It’s very reasonably priced (even more so when you take into account its Central London location) with main courses from £9.95 to £13.50.
I also liked the laid back atmosphere – this would be a nice venue for after-work drinks and meeting friends for dinner. And it’s handily located just five minutes’ walk from Bond Street tube.
I was also impressed by the service – the staff were friendly and attentive and our waiter in particular went above and beyond to make sure we had everything we wanted, and even threw in a bit of Uzbekistan history with dinner!
Samarqand, 18 Thayer Street, W1U 3JY