Pete next ordered a couple of Uzbek rice pilaf dishes, the regular Uzbek plov (pictured above) with beef and carrots, and a "Bukharan plov" which had incorporated chicken bits with chopped cilantro and parsley.
Nearly every table had an order of manti dumplings. These were the classic Asian dumpling that migrated into Russia with the Tatars and Mongols and became known as pierogi, pelmeni, vareniki, or chibureki to the west, and manti in Turkish or mandoo in Korean. Like many, they are pretty simple and filling staples - the Tam Tov version is filled with beef and onions and perked up with a bit of Israeli shrug sauce from a jar on the table. Another nice touch was the french fries: Pete had been singing the praises of the Tam Tov Bukharan french fries... which he said were covered in chopped dill and garlic. Our waitress didn't know what Pete was talking about and from the look on her face, she quite obviously thought the man was insane. Dill? On fries? But eventually she said "OK. You want us to make them ... ummm.. like Bukharan style?" and out they came dressed with diced garlic and parsely.I would try this at home if I ever made french fries at home, which I don't. Now, as many of my readers know, I am often wary of Kosher resturants - I have been to many of them that were mainly fuel stations for the Orthodox, a place to absorb enough kosher calories until the trip home for a real meal. The problem is that the people who prepare most kosher restaurant food simply never have had food that rises above the level of merely palatable, and since they never eat outside of their community, how would they even know that their cooking is mediocre? This is most obvious among the Ultra Orthodox Hasidim, many of whom wont even eat the cooking of other Hasidic kitchens not supervised by their own rabbis. The matzoh-stuffed chicken leg that feeds half of Brooklyn's Jews is not a symbol of good Jewish cuisine. The endless Israeli salads... a cheap and easy way for kosher caterers to avoid actually cooking food. As for tradition? Grandma's cooking is great, but we can't sit at Grandma's table all the time. I have eaten a lot of kosherei in my time, and very little of it made my mouth want to sing the way the Tam Tov did. This is good food: the fact that it is kosher is probably just a side benefit for most of the customers who come for a unqiue, filling, and surprisingly inexpensive meal for midtown Manhattan.