Chaihanna | Suburbs Northwest | Polish/Russian/Eastern European | Restaurant
This location has been flagged as "Closed".
CLOSED. Uzbeki teahouse featuring the multiethnic cuisine of central Asia's largest country.

Our Review

Chaihanna, often spelled choyhona, means "teahouse," and in Uzbekistan the teahouse is the center of social interaction. Ideally in a shaded outdoor setting near a stream, it’s a place where folks—men, for the most part—while away the hours, drinking tea and snacking at leisure. That’s hemispheres away from the soulless-looking suburban strip mall that houses Chaihanna, but inside, decorative touches like the gorgeous hand-painted blue and white china encourage a reasonable suspension of disbelief. And the pace is authentically relaxed. On a typical weekend night you’ll find long tables filled with multigenerational parties sharing the plates of kebabs, blintzes, lamb chops, garlicky spiced eggplant, and pickled vegetables. Uzbek food is a cuisine of conquest and commerce, bearing the mark of the many ethnic groups that have passed through—or been forced through—the territory. Along with the majority Uzbeks, minority Russians, Tajiks, Kazakhs, and Tatars have overshadowed smaller but significant groups of Bukharan Jews (who emigrated en masse after the fall of the USSR) and even Koreans who were forcibly settled there by Stalin in the 30s. It’s tempting to see those influences in foods like the pickled vegetables. The cabbage, carrots, and tomatoes aren’t predominantly spiced by chiles, though they’re heavily impregnated with other flavors—cumin, clove, garlic, dill—and the bracing, dissociative shock of fizzy, fermen­ted, salty watermelon reminds me of nothing so much as a thoroughly aged kimchi. The noodles Berrina in the meat soup lagman are related to the liang mien of the Chinese Muslim Uighur minority--that’s lo mein to you and me. Turkish manti are small, raviolilike beef dumplings, but the Uzbek versions here are supersize; one’s stuffed with pumpkin and redolent of baking spices. Samsas are crispy, baked meat-stuffed cousins to the Indian samosa.

Mike Sula

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