Let me tell you about the wonderful Mexican restaurant Ben and I enjoyed in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
As the sole Mexican restaurant in the city, I was pleased to see that Mexico City Restaurant had over 10,040 likes on Facebook. I’m sure there is no way the restaurant paid someone for 10,000 of those likes. I mean, the demand for Mexican food is probably off the charts in such a booming central Asian city.
We took a taxi from our hotel to the restaurant and were struck by the idyllic surroundings. The genteel boulevard was lined with a beautiful concrete wall, providing scenic views with unbridled security from our lovely terrace table.
How was the menu? Prices were exorbitant by Uzbeki standards, but that reflected what a high-class establishment it was. I feared we would be unable to get a reservation, but we smartly dined early (7pm) and had the entire restaurant to ourselves for 90 minutes.
We were delighted to see guacamole on the menu and ordered that as our appetizer. Chips were not included. The waiter asked us if we wanted homemade corn tortilla chips or store-bought flour tortilla chips. Wanting an authentic Uzbeki meal, we of course opted for homemade tortilla chips.
Moments later a folding tray appeared with a crisp white linen tablecloth on top. We smiled as we waited for our guacamole to be prepared table side. Oddly, though, perhaps due to the copious amounts of flies outside, the chef prepared the guacamole inside. Instead, a bottle of water was placed on the tray.
Our waiter brought over the guacamole and we were pleased at how generous the portion size was. The serving size of the guacamole reminded me of the wonderful self-serve salsa bar at Baja Fresh back home. By that I mean the plastic containers. How were the homemade chips? So good they melted in your mouth. Actually, they crumbled when you touched them.
But there is a certain gourmet elegance in brittleness and we appreciated the exotic taste of Uzbeki grains.
The guacamole was so great we wolfed in down in two bites each.
Now came the hard part: what to order for our main course. Not wanting to risk eating a horse enchilada, Ben ordered a cheese enchilada. I’m much more adventurers and ordered an enchilada trio.
The waiter warned us that the food would be extremely spicy and suggested we opt for mild sauce. But we insisted that we could handle the spicy food.
Meanwhile a dog ran into the restaurant and we head some yelping in the kitchen.
Our enchiladas arrived, served with beans, rice, and pico de gallo. I’m glad we did not listen to the waiter, because the enchiladas were about as spicy as plain yogurt. The flavor was also remarkably reminiscent of plain yogurt, or perhaps the string cheese you used to eat in your elementary school cafeteria.
That said, I appreciated the innovation in the pico de gallo. There is nothing like substituting cilantro for parsley to create a unique Uzbeki salsa.
The portion size was so generous neither of us could finish our meals. Oddly, we were both hungry about an hour later, but I chalk that up to our fast metabolisms.
Our waiter suggested a special homemade dessert from the grocery store, but we politicly declined and requested the check.
Yes, we were high rollers, but great Mexican food doesn’t come cheap. The modest 20% service charge — not mentioned on the menu — is quite fair considering the practice in communication we received in trying to speak with the waiter.
Do I recommend this restaurant? I trust my review is obvious. The food, atmosphere, and service added up to create an unforgettable experience.