The Silk Road was an ancient series of trade routes that were both by land and sea linking the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. Although eastern silk exports were an early catalyst of trade, both economic goods and cultural concepts were exchanged through this global trade network.
Due to it’s location, present day Uzbekistan played a key role in the Silk Road and was part of it’s main Eurasian trade routes. For visitors to this area, there are significant archaeological remnants of the Silk Road dating as far back as the first century C.E.
In present day southwest Florida, the Silk Road is a restaurant serving Uzbekistan cuisine. They opened recently in December of 2017. After reading some very favorable reviews on Social Media, my dining companion and I decided to take a peek.
Although this area of the world is terra incognita to me, the interior of the restaurant seems decorated to reflect Uzbekistan culture.
I was unable to find a menu on line as of this writing. As such, I’ll talk about what we sampled. We tried a few things off the appetizer menu. The first of these were Xolodets. If you don’t speak Russian it doesn’t matter, this video link will give you an idea.
Xolodets are a traditional Uzbek dish, and is basically chipped beef placed into a mold and covered with beef bone broth that has been simmering for about 8 hours. The molds are then chilled, jellying the broth. I thought this dish ok but a great introduction to Uzbek cuisine. If you like the pate de campagnes of France, you will enjoy this dish.
We then tried a couple of other starters, the Samsas and Blinchik. Samsas are a distant cousin to Indian samosas, though they are baked. Our samsas were filled with beef and onion, with a bit of cumin, salt and pepper. The Blinchik are simplistically meat crepes. They are filled with beef, onion and tomato and spiced with cilantro and pepper. Both were good and increased my appreciation of Uzbek food.
We also ordered the markovcha off the salad menu. Although markovcha has Korean roots, it has been modified by the Russians much like the modification of fried rice in North America. This was an unusual but tasty dish. This is basically shredded carrot with a vinaigrette including garlic, coriander seeds, cayenne and honey.
We finished with a couple of entrees, the Plov and a couple of kebobs. Plov is supposedly the national dish of Uzbekistan, and is basically a pilaf with (at the restaurant) lamb, rice, carrots and chickpeas.
The plov was excellent, bringing back memories of the Indian biryani. The lamb melded perfectly with the rice and other ingredients in this dish, which is cooked in a large cast iron pot. One of the owners told me everything here was made from scratch, and I believed her.
The kabobs were good, but would have been outstanding if we would have opted to have optional skewered vegetables on them for an inconsequential $1.50 more. If you order these, please do this. The lamb kabobs were really good, but we also sampled the Lulya kabobs. The lulya kabobs were made from ground beef and chipped beef fat, and were seasoned with cumin and cilantro.
We dipped our kebobs in chanti, an absolutely delicious meld of yogurt, cilantro and lemon. The chanti was so good, I could have ordered it separately as a soup.
They also have beer and wine with some wines being from Uzbekistan. With no wine list at the time of our visit, it was totally shooting from the hip but the Uzbek white I sampled was very good.
The items sampled at Silk Road were good to excellent. This cuisine was totally unknown to me but I was not disappointed. I don’t think you will be either.
That’s that for another post on Forks.
8646 Gladiolus Dr. (Crossing Plaza)
Fort Myers, FL 33908
Open from 11 AM-9 PM daily; No valet parking; All major credit cards accepted; Kid’s meals available