Samarkand London recently opened their doors with Uzbeki style fine dining experience. If you are wondering what is Uzbeki cuisines than keep reading to find out.
The restaurant has taken over what was originally the site of Fino restaurant. The layout has not change much but it has been transformed to give a feeling of luxury.
While we waited for our food to arrive we were served complimentary toasted breads. They were warm with a slight smokey flavour. The bread is best enjoyed when they are warm because once cold they lost their attraction.
Our first round of food started with the small plates. The Somsa (£4 per parcel) are hand-made puff pastry parcels filled with beef & lamb. The parcels were beautifully made which reminded me of the Chinese roast pork puff pastry. But for the price tag they are premium puff pastry.
The Baklajon (£4.50) is Uzbek style smoked aubergine caviar. You could really taste the smokey flavour in the mashed aubergine which came served with tiny slices of rye bread.
Manti are traditional uzbek hand-made dumplings. Each serving comes with three mantis and is offered in two different filling – pumpkin (£6) or beef and lamb (£8).
The manti pastry was not too thick and it was still moist when it arrived on our table. It was served with a tomato base sauce that tasted like a bolognese sauce. It went well with the manti especially the one filled with beef and lamb.
Shashlik is skewered meat which is flamed over the robata grill. The serving is one skewer per 100g. The quality of the meat was good, but it does cost when you look at the price tag. Whether it is worth their price tag it is debatable.
We selected three of the shashlik on the menu. Each one were good but my favourite has to be the Wagyu Beef (£28). As you expected from wagyu the meat was tender. For a more texture than the Bavette (£13) also know as flank steak, would give you that.
The Buttermilk Marinated Lamb (£17) was also very tender and beautifully cooked. It had a nice portion of fat and lean meat.
After trying Samarkand robato grills it was followed by the dishes from the main courses. One of them was the Jiz Biz (£26) which is a pan-fried rack of lamb served with potato cake and salad. The meat is tender but fairly fatty. If you compared it with the buttermilk marinated lamb than I prefered the shashlik as it was leaner meat.
The Chicken Tabaka (£21) was pan-fried baby chicken which had a tangy orange flavour. I felt the orange flavour was too strong and the chicken slightly over cooked.
Fried Lagman (£16) is hand-pulled fried noodles with lamb shoulder in a tomato & chilli sauce. The flavour to me resembled a Chinese stir-fried noodle.
Poached Rainbow Trout (£18) is served in a shellfish broth with vegetables and keta caviar. The presentation of this dish was pretty but the flavour was too fishy.
With the mains we ordered the Samarkand Plov (£28 to serve two people) which is a Uzbekistan’s signature dish, that is usually made on special day. The dish consisted of slowly cooked beef short rib that sat on top of rice mixed with carrots, onions, chickpeas and barberries. It is garnished with pomegranate and spring onions.
The cooked beef short ribs was beautifully soft that it almost fell off its bone. This dish definitely gets my recommendation as the one to order at Samarkand London.
Since we ordered the Samarkand Plov we did not need sides to go with our mains. But on my second visit we did try the Truffle potato (£4). There is nothing special about this dish which was simply sliced cooked potatoes with truffles.
Samarkand London has a small selection of desserts on the menu which meant we got to try all of them.
The Chilli & Thyme Poached Peach with pistachio Crumble and Ice cream (£7.50) was pretty in presentation. The dish had a combination of texture which worked well. The peach was soft and the crumbles gave it a crunch. The ice cream helped stick the crumbles to the peach together and was like a sauce to the dessert. Each item on the plate made great friends.
The Baklava cake (£7.50) was a nice version of baklava. Unlike a tradition baklava it was not too sweet and like its name it had more of a cake texture.
If none of the main desserts take your fancy then for some thing a bit lighter is Samarkand London selection of ice cream and sorbet (£6 for three scoops), which is offered in a selection of flavours.
Samarkand London has an extensive list of drinks to choose, including two pages of tea and at a range of price. The most expensive tea we spotted was the Yellow Tea for £20.
As well as a range of tea, there are a range of wines and Samarkand cocktails.
On my first visit I did not know what to expect for Uzbeki cuisine. But it was not at all that unfamiliar as the food had influence from Mediterranean and Chinese cuisines.
Overall the food at Samarkand was nice especially the meat. But the cost of dining at Smarkand London is similar to fine dining price, although it is not there at the top with the true fine dining restaurants.
(Not Sponsored. Prices and Menu correct at the time of dining)
33 Charlotte Street,