When I write about restaurants on Instagram, they’re usually brief takes accompanied by a photo or two. (You can see my feed right here on ethnojunkie.com, updated almost daily, by selecting the “Instagram” category from my home page – no signup required.) But folks sometimes ask for more extensive reviews and photos, so in response, here’s a comprehensive report on one of my favorites.
The warmth exuded by a family run business and the luxury of a splendidly appointed restaurant are not at odds at U Yuri Fergana. This mom&populence, if you will, was in evidence from the gracious service through the appetizing dishes we enjoyed during a recent lunchtime visit to their location in Rego Park, Queens.
Its name translates to “Yuri from Fergana”: our host Yuri Moshev and his wife and head chef Myra hail from Fergana, the capital of the eponymous region in eastern Uzbekistan. They and their son Ben have created a unique establishment that distinguishes itself from the multitude of neighborhood Uzbek restaurants in that they operate a livestock production facility in College Point, so you can be certain that the meat is fresh and of high quality; the restaurant is kosher in keeping with the dominant Bukharan Jewish culture in the neighborhood.
Here are a few of the satisfying dishes we tried. (Click any photo to view in glorious high resolution.)
Sautéed Eggplant Salad
A bright, sweet and sour mélange of sautéed veggies with eggplant in the spotlight; the perfect foil to the richly flavorful kebabs (see below).
Although there was a pronounced sweetness to this dish, it was considerably different from and less sweet than the eggplant salad. Fresh, crispy and crunchy, the combination of flavors was even better than I had anticipated.
Peeking out from the side is Toki, baked into a parabola on the convex side of a wok and similar to matzo but a little less brittle; its tiny flecks of cumin were a welcome element.
Characterized by long, hand pulled noodles with a perfect chew, lagman soup is a fixture in this part of the world. It’s worth noting that the word “lagman” is a cognate of the Chinese “lo mein”, their geographical proximity providing the clue. This beefy, tomato and vegetable infused version was delicious.
What Uzbek meal would be complete without them? From left to right, ground lamb, lamb chop, liver, chicken, beef, and ground chicken. Usually, chunks of chicken are the also-ran in the company of other meats, but these were outstanding.
Leposhka (Homemade Bread) and French Fries (with dill and chopped garlic, of course!)
Gusinie Lapki (Goose Feet Cookies)
Not too sweet, these delicate cookies along with some tea provided the perfect finishing touch to our delightful meal.
Note that some large family-style items on the menu must be ordered in advance, so call ahead if there’s something on the menu that piques your interest.
U Yuri Fergana is located at 94-09 63rd Drive, Rego Park, Queens.
Note: This was a complimentary meal sponsored by the management of U Yuri Fergana. The opinions expressed in this post are uninfluenced and impartial.