Salute Restaurant: Silk Road Cuisine in Rego Park, Queens

Sweet and tangy Korean carrot salad

I recently drove with friends from my Italian neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to the Russian and Central Asian neighborhood of Rego Park, Queens. God I love New York! We visited the Kosher restaurant Salute, that serves a distinct cuisine reflecting the Silk Road food influences of Bukharan Jews.

Crimean chebureki, fried half-moon shaped dough filled with lamb. Juicy when you cut them open.

Bukharan Jews came to this country from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, formerly the Central Asian state known as the Emirate of Bukhara.

Hearty “lagman” noodle soup, inspired by Chinese “lo mein” noodles. Hear the similarity in words?

Mass migrations to Israel and the United States throughout the last century brought thousands of Bukharan Jews to New York, especially Rego Park, making that neighborhood a destination for diverse food influences, including but not limited to Russian, Iranian, Romanian, Korean, and Bulgarian.

Russian mineral water from the Georgian village of Borjomi known for its healing waters. Salty, yet pleasant.
This crisp lager was a good counterpart to our rich food.

This is a great article from the Times by Julia Moskin that gives an overview of all the diverse tastes in Rego Park’s restaurants.

Asian Pilaf, or “plov” — from the Persian word "polow" for rice — rice with lamb, carrots, chickpeas and onions

I was especially excited to try this cuisine because of its mix of Eastern European and Central Asian influences, representing both my mom and dad’s heritage. I went with my dear friend Olga, a native Russian speaker, who was able to translate both the language and the cultural cues surrounding us.


My favorite moment of the night came when two older male diners got into what seemed like an altercation with our friendly waitress. It turned out to be an old world ritual of fighting over the check.

French fries with fresh minced garlic and cilantro. Great idea.

As Olga translated it, what happened was that one man asked for the check when his friend went to use the bathroom. The friend overheard, and angrily insisted to the waitress that he himself pay the bill. He told her that he had a heart condition, and that it was unhealthy for him to argue about the matter. End of discussion.

Crisp coleslaw with both cucumber and green tomato pickles

Up until then, I had only seen that kind of “chivalry” in Persian restaurants. Now I suppose it’s practiced in that whole part of the world.

Samsa, tandoor-baked meat pastries related to Indian samosas

I can’t wait to go back to Rego Park to eat at Salute, and try out other restaurants in the area. The food was incredible, and so was the journey to another culture, within just twenty minute’s drive of my home.

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