Review of Samarkand London - Uzbekistan cuisine - best meal of 2016!
I took a chance with Samarkand, as I'd never had Uzbekistan cuisine before and really didn't know what to expect. But I have no regrets and was totally wow'ed. The entrance doesn't look like anything special, and is quite hidden. But once I walked in and made my way down the stairs to the basement restaurant, I was blown away. There are over 1500 handmade tiles around the restaurant. The pillars in the middle of the restaurant are handcarved using the wood from walnut trees - with traditional Uzbekistan design. Even the paintings are the works of world famous artists (although the owner didn't disclose who they were to me).
But let's focus back to the purpose of me being at Samarkand. Service is faultless, as is the food. Even the owner made his presence and took the time to check that each table was having a good time and enjoying the food. In fact, this was my best meal of 2016 so far.
Due to the location of Uzbekistan, the food has been heavily influenced by the other countries along The Silk Road. The menu was even created using recipes passed down several generations of the owner's family - so you know you're getting the good stuff.
There's only a few dishes to each of the 6 or 7 sections on the menu, even with that simplicity I struggled to choose what to have. In the end I selected a mix between traditional and interesting dishes.
Whilst you wait, you're given a basket of warm complimentary bread which is served with cumin spiced butter. Really tasty!
For starters I chose:
Uzbekistan Dumplings (£6.00) - I chose the pumpkin filled ones and they appeared to be a cross between a Chinese dumpling and an Italian ravioli. It was served with a tomato based sauce, and had the Middle Eastern flavours like cumin. The table next door chose the lamb filled dumplings and that smelt amazing, so I'll probably opt for that one instead next time.
Smoked Eel (£9.00) - beautifully presented with cooked beetroot, a runny quail egg and some edible flowers. The smoky flavour in the eel lingers about in your mouth for a bit after eating the eel. Quite subtle flavours and enjoyable to eat. But there isn't much on this plate - don't say I didn't warn you about the portion size!
The mains were the highlights of my meal though and I will remember how happy I was when eating them for a long long time yet!
Jiz Biz (£26.00) - when the menu said lamb chops, I couldn't resist. Lamb is my absolute favourite meat to have! When the plate arrived I was shocked to see three massive lamb chops! They were served with a stacked potato cake (a bit like dauphinoise potatoes without the cream) and a small side salad. There's no sauce with the lamb and I thought that would make the dish a little dry. But I was wrong! The lamb chops were super tender and perfectly cooked, and quite juicy too. There was also a nice fatty bit on each of the chops. Highly recommend the Jiz Biz, whether you like lamb or not :)
Baby Chicken Tabaka (£21.00) - also a delight to eat. The chicken was more like an oversized baby chicken, as it was enough to feed two people (maybe even 3 if you have a number of other dishes). The chicken had been cooked over the grill and had a nice blackened char on the skin. It was drizzled with a sticky sauce that was sweet, sour and also spiced with herbs like cumin. A very interesting dish, with great flavours. Perfect for one or to share.
To end my meal, I took the restaurant's recommendation of the Chilli and Thyme Poached Peach (£7.50). You get a whole poached peach, which was perfectly cooked - so soft and tender! It's served with a barberry ice cream, pistachio crumble and some fresh pomegranate. A magical dessert to eat!
I had a really good night at Samarkand and it definitely won't be my last visit. From the décor to the food, everything had been well thought out. I could definitely see, feel and taste the passion that has gone into Samarkand and would highly recommend anyone to visit it. Even the toilets were impressive! You'll have a wonderful meal at a top notch restaurant, which won't cost you an arm and a leg!
Address: 33 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 3RR (less than 10 minutes wall from Goodge Street underground station, Northern Line)
Phone: 020 3871 4969