The landlocked central-Asian country has a culinary outpost in North York.
Former U.S. presidential candidate Herman Cain lampooned his own lack of familiarity with the central-Asian country of Uzbekistan. “If someone asks me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan I’m going to say I don’t know,” he quipped during his short-lived run for office.
If Cain ever makes it to Toronto, he’ll have a chance to educate himself on the culture and food of Uzbekistan by visiting North York’s Tashkent restaurant, near Keele Street and Steeles Avenue. Tashkent, named after the Uzbek capital city, is tucked into a strip mall in an industrial area between an adult video store and a massage parlour.
The restaurant is a central meeting place for Toronto’s Uzbek community, which is based in Thornhill. Interesting fact: Uzbekistan is a rare, doubly landlocked country, meaning that it doesn’t have access to the ocean, and neither do any of its neighbours.
I started out with an order of manti, the classic Uzbek steamed-lamb dumplings. They’re big and stretchy, and a patron implored me to abandon my clumsy attempt to eat them with a knife and fork in favour of my hands. “This type of food you eat with your fingers,” she tells me.
Spice City Toronto explores Toronto’s great hole-in-the-wall restaurants and strip-mall joints serving food from all corners of the world.