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#1 banh cuon

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Posted 05 July 2005 - 08:32 PM

Spent a marvelous Saturday afternoon exploring Brighton Beach this weekend. What a culinary wonderland! It seems to have changed slightly since last I was there four years ago, in that there seems to be a greater central asian influence than ever before, with many more restaurants and clientele hailing from the central asian republics of the former soviet union.

Late lunch at Cafe Kashkar (1141 Brighton Beach Avenue), a Uighur/Xinjiang restaurant. Had very fatty but delectable cumin-laced lamb rib and lamb loin kebabs to start, with an accompanying massive mound of raw shaved onions and nigella-seed studded nan bread. This was very strongly flavored lamb, likely closer to mutton. Lagman soup followed, with very toothsome hand-pulled noodles and a deeply meaty and rich broth tasting of long simmered lamb bones, tomatoes, onions, and copious quantities of cilantro and cumin. "Korean" carrot salad and "salat langsai" (glass noodle, cilantro, and shredded vegetable salad) and gigantic, perfectly steamed lamb-and-onion manti dumplings completed the meal. A large pot of green tea with free refills was $1. All this food for two people came to $24!

Snack at Varenichnaya (3086 Brighton 2nd St.). Plum vareniky with a butter sauce ($3.95). Pure sweet, doughy decadence.

Finished the evening at M&I International Foods (249 Brighton Beach Ave. at Brighton 2nd St.), which had the most impressive smoked fish, charcuterie, and traiteur counters I've encountered in North America. The smoked fish counter offered three grades of wild salmon roe (16/22/28 per pound). I tried all three grades and settled on the middle grade which I had the best "pop" and was less salty that the other two grades. Also picked up some hot smoked sturgeon and wild Baltic cold smoked salmon. Cold smoked sturgeon, whitefish and chubs, hot smoked eel, hot smoked salmon, smoked sable, smoked mackerel, smoked trout, norwegian brined shrimp, pickled salmon and herring, pike roe, and russian sturgeon caviar were all available as well. Picked up some "smoked hunter's sausage" from the charcuterie area for the ridiculous price of $1.99 per pound, some "moscow bread" (black bread) from the bakery counter, and some "spartak" chocolate crepe cake at the cakes counter upstairs. Also picked up some clotted cream and store-made sour cream and kefir at the dairy counter, as well as some jarred hot mustard and a half pound of mushroom salad at the traiteur section. About twenty different types of cold russian salad were available for takeout, all price at $3/lb or less. Truly stunning! Prices were ridiculously cheap throughout the store, and the smoked fish counter definitely gives Russ and Daughters a real run for their money, in terms of quality and certainly on price. Most items were 1/2 price compared to Manhattan prices. The best thing about the store is that samples were offered of anything you're interested in buying!

#2 Lippy

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Posted 05 July 2005 - 08:37 PM

I haven't been in years and now I can't wait to go back. I think I'll take the F train all the way out to Coney Island to see the new station and walk to Brighton Beach. Is anyone else interested in this little field trip?

#3 Pingarina

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Posted 05 July 2005 - 08:40 PM

I haven't been in years and now I can't wait to go back. I think I'll take the F train all the way out to Coney Island to see the new station and walk to Brighton Beach. Is anyone else interested in this little field trip?

Me! Me! Dying to go since reading Time Out New York articles last week.
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#4 Melonious Thunk

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Posted 05 July 2005 - 08:45 PM

I'd love to do that too. It's been two years. But I need a guide.
"Pippa, I'm going to tell you something and it's important. Sometimes you have to go to work."__Hannah Marie Konstadt, Two years, nine months.

'How high can you stoop?"__Oscar Levant.

#5 Lippy

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Posted 05 July 2005 - 08:48 PM

I think everything interesting is right there on Brighton Beach Avenue, isn't it? I'm willing to go without a guide. I'm planning to walk on the boardwalk from Coney Island to Brighton Beach and take the subway home from there. I've done this in the past.

#6 banh cuon

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Posted 05 July 2005 - 08:54 PM

Brighton Beach is quite easily navigated. All shops and restaurants are either along Brighton Beach Ave., which runs directly under the Q train line, or else on the side streets (which are all called "Brighton # St." from #1-14). Everybody speaks atleast rudimentary english in shops and restaurants and all menus are well translated.

#7 wingding

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Posted 05 July 2005 - 09:24 PM

I'm going to Tatiana soon,with a Russian friend who eats there regularily....It's right on the boardwalk,and she tells me that you can BYOB.I'd imagine that it could quite nice during the week around twilight....and I'm not expecting great moments in dining,but a[quite] different experience than the usual Manhattan scene.
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#8 porkwah

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 12:23 AM

one of my favorite places in ny is chio pio, which is a family run uzbek hole in the wall on brighton 4. chicken kababs are like sushi. lamb kebabs are the fattiest cut possible. the uzbek salad is tasty and fresh most of the year. not fast food, though.

i should add though that nobody i've taken there loves the place as much as i do. but that's kind of irrelevant to me.

m & i is far from my favorite place to shop on neptune by the way. if you go, be sure to look all over the place. my favorite place is two (?) blocks west of there, on the northeast corner -- it's a far smaller place but they are nice and they have a really good selection of meats, fishes, and breads plus the requisite butter.

man, i need a headache


#9 omnivorette

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 04:00 AM

You don't need a guide. It's easy to find your way around. I've done it many, many times.

And plus, I'll go with you. :(
"It seems a positively Quixotic quest to defend food from being used as any kind of social signifier, as if it could avoid the fate of each other component of our everyday lives." -Wilfrid

#10 fantasty

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 04:15 AM

one of my favorite places in ny is chio pio, which is a family run uzbek hole in the wall on brighton 4. 

The lamb kabobs there were outstanding, and I seem to recall also eating a seriously garlic-laden carrot salad that made me very happy. Plus, it's not every day that you can dine in a place with posters from Uzbekistan Airways on the walls.
"My hogs were so lean you had to put lard in the pan just to cook your bacon" - Papa Wilson, 1918 - 2007

#11 Melonious Thunk

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 08:33 AM

You don't need a guide. It's easy to find your way around. I've done it many, many times.

And plus, I'll go with you. :(

I know. I was just fishing for some company. :(
"Pippa, I'm going to tell you something and it's important. Sometimes you have to go to work."__Hannah Marie Konstadt, Two years, nine months.

'How high can you stoop?"__Oscar Levant.

#12 Wilfrid1

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 02:26 PM

I'm planning to walk on the boardwalk from Coney Island to Brighton Beach and take the subway home from there. I've done this in the past.

We do that every summer.
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#13 bbqmonster

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Posted 07 July 2005 - 02:38 AM

one of my favorite places in ny is chio pio, which is a family run uzbek hole in the wall on brighton 4. 

The lamb kabobs there were outstanding, and I seem to recall also eating a seriously garlic-laden carrot salad that made me very happy. Plus, it's not every day that you can dine in a place with posters from Uzbekistan Airways on the walls.

that garlic carrot dish was excellent!

#14 Lippy

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 10:48 PM

Went to Brighton Beach today and looked in and M and I. The place is overwhelming, as described, but I liked two smaller nearby stores even better. Gold Label seemed a little cleaner and the prepared food looked fresher. Vintage, next door, was even nicer looking. This was a scouting expedition, really, and I bought only dried strawberries and fabulous dried cherries at Vintage. I counted 43 bins of different types of dried fruit.

I was fascinated to see Chicken Tabaka, a Georgian dish in which a small chicken is spatchcocked, then cooked with spices under a weight.

There were also some interesting sausages, including a housemade kiebasa.

I'm definitely going back for some serious shopping on a day when I can come straight home.

#15 omnivorette

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 10:57 PM

Did you see all that halvah near the register at Vintage? Amazing.
"It seems a positively Quixotic quest to defend food from being used as any kind of social signifier, as if it could avoid the fate of each other component of our everyday lives." -Wilfrid