Chinese…Mexican…Uzbek. That’s one cuisine I never thought I’d see represented in Pittsburgh, yet lo and behold, it exists. Uzbekistan is a country that probably few Pittsburghers could actually locate on the map (I’m excluded from this as I’ve always been a hardcore geography nerd), and now one can get themselves authentic Uzbek food.
I had a Living Social deal that was set to expire soon and so last month on a typically cold January day, D and I climbed up a mountain…via car of course. Kavsar is located on Mt. Washington and yet it’s located on “the other side of the tracks” Mt. Washington, as in blocks from Grandview Avenue where some of the city’s most expensive restaurants can be found. The roads up there were precariously steep AND curvy AND narrow but we made it, although I couldn’t imagine even attempting such a drive during inclement weather.
We got there shortly after noon and for the first half of the meal, were the only people dining there. It’s located in what seems to have been a former home from the past century (as many small restaurants in the city’s historic sections seem to be). Upon being greeted we were led upstairs to the second floor where the main dining room was. It was simply decorated, although the room had a large flatscreen that our hostess/waitress turned on. At first, loud Uzbek music videos (I’m assuming they were Uzbek stars) played but then what could only be described as an ode to Uzbek tourism came on. Uzbekistan is a country I wouldn’t mind visiting at some point (the Silk Road, Marco Polo-what more could a traveler want?) and seeing the images of the beautiful and colorful buildings, the food, definitely made me want to visit.
For being an intimate family run joint, the menu was quite extensive. Besides having the Living Social deal which was for $25, I wanted to try as many things as possible since it was my first time eating Uzbek food.
When we’d first started perusing the menu, D mentioned the Meat Pancakes ($4.99) so we naturally ordered them. They consisted of two pieces and were stuffed with your choice of either ground beef or chicken; we opted for the beef. They came with sour cream (a staple in Russian/Central Asian cuisine), although we ate them without. They were delicious in a simple way.
As an eggplant lover, I selected the Eggplant Roll ($4.99). These featured eggplants stuffed with tomatoes, dill, and garlic. There were four in all. While I’m not the biggest dill fan (I would discover that dill is used in a lot of Uzbek dishes), I didn’t mind it. The rolls were cold but it was a nice contrast to the pancakes.
We also ordered a small homemade bread ($1.50) that according to our waitress was a staple at Uzbek meals. I equate it to Ethiopia’s injera bread, definitely unique and hardly just your standard “bread.” The sesame seeds gave it a nice taste.
For my entree I chose the Uzbek Palov ($9.99). According to the menu this is “traditional food” which includes tender beef with rice and carrots. There was nothing spicy or rich about it and just like the pancakes, it had a simple taste which led to me not feeling full at all.
D had originally wanted the Manti (steamed dumplings with your choice of either beef, pumpkin, or spinach-$7.99) but unfortunately they weren’t available yet. According to the waitress they take a lot of time to prepare. So based on the recommendation of our waitress, he ordered the Lagman ($9.99) instead. This consisted of homemade noodles topped with a broth and vegetables along with your choice of either beef or chicken. I had some of it and the taste was superb.
I didn’t want to necessarily eat any dessert right there and then, so we got an order of the Baklava ($4.75) to go. We had these later that night and boy, were they sinfully good. I also liked the fact that they gave two different types of baklava (four pieces in all).
Dining at Kavsar was a delightful experience on so many fronts-educational, cultural, great service, and most importantly, good food. While Pittsburgh is thousands of miles away from Uzbekistan, it’s nice to know that a little piece of it can be found right here.
Note: Kavsar is halal, which means that alcohol is not served.
16 Southern Ave | Pittsburgh, PA | 15211