Living in NYC for the summer. Had some Chicago friends in town. Didn't sleep much, but still made it to work.
Sunday - we tried to go to Grimaldi's (pizza), and even in a downpour people are lined up around the block for the place. I'm done with it. Every time I go there, it's a line. Fuggettabout it.
Moving on - I have my car here. I'm too Chicago not to have a car in a city that doesn't have cameras watching your every move and sending you tickets in the mail. I'm like a kid in candy store here - that lane, it's mine. That red light? It's just a suggestion. It's like Kansas City in the 50's out here with driving - free city, no rules, the wild west.
Moving on. We drove down to Totonno's in Coney Island on Neptune Ave. Never been but heard its great. In the past I was always too lazy to go down there, this being the first time I wouldn't have to take the train. Turns out Totonno's was closed for remodeling. "Good" my friends said, "we don't believe in New York pizza anyways." "Whatever - what the hell do they know about pizza" I thought "they're from Chicago."
Iphone in hand (the other on the wheel) I check the Village Voice for a rec in Brighton Beach, not far from Coney. I've eaten in Brighton here and there, most notably at this Uzbeki place that was absolutely fabulous - fatty lamb parts cooked over live coals - what's not to like?
We end up at Kashkar Cafe. "Uighar's?" my friend says (he's Chinese) "they've been fffff'd by the Chinese government for decades, hell centuries, we need to hit it up pronto and show some love."
"Plus they got the ill lamb, they don't mess with pork" I add.
So we end up at Cafe Kashkar, right before a cul de sac where Brighton Beach ave ends, a few blocks from the sea. A tiny storefront. It's busy - filled with central Asians, Uighars, and Russians (Brighton Beach is "little Russia on the Sea").
We order lagman, kabobs, lamb-stuffed dough, and some home fries. The lagman is out of this world. Hand-made noodles, irregularly cut, with a stewy, fatty, brick red lamb and veggie sauce on top. Flavors reminiscent of a mix of Szechuan and Turkish. Out of this world. Not a clean cut of lamb to speak of - all fat and sinew. The best.
The kabobs? Out of this world. We went with lamb rib and veal. Both probably marinated to hell, and then cooked over live coals (this is definitely an NYC thing - damnit Chicago, why can't we do this more often?). The lamb ribs were of particular note. Fatty, caramelized, subtly smokey, and intensely gamy. Quite simply one of the finest kabobs I have ever had.
Kashkar is by no means a hidden secret. It's been written up in the NYC mainstream and alt press. It is however, one of the few, if not only Uighar places in NYC. And definitely worth a visit.
My first attempt at a picture:
Me, intensely happy because of said Lamb Ribs.
Thanks for listening to my rant about lamb ribs. If this picture thing works out there will be more to come!
1141 Brighton Beach Ave