Samsa with a Smile in Rego Park

Hearty, meaty Bukharian is what’s cooking at Zhemchuzhina, Rego Park’s newest spot for this sturdy chow from Central Asia. “Everything was outstanding,” declares hreisig, who strongly recommends samsa, the tandoor-baked meat pastries that are a cousin to India’s samosa. Grilled sweetbreads and lamb rib kebabs are delicious and satisfying, as are cold noodles with bits of roast beef and lots of coriander seed.

Countering the richness of the meat dishes are a sprightly cabbage salad and a tomato-onion dish, both seasoned with a light, spicy dressing. extrajos, who endorses the borscht and beef noodle stew, much prefers Zhemchuzhina to Salut, just a block away on this stretch of 108th Street dubbed “Bukharian Broadway.”

In contrast to the sullen Soviet-era vibe typical of many Central Asian restaurants, the staff at Zhemchuzhina (“Pearl”) is friendly and attentive. Its predecessor in this space, Shalom, also delivered service “head and shoulders above places like Salute and Arzu,” recalls Polecat. He suggests that Shalom’s staff may have been kept on when the restaurant changed hands.

For Joe MacBu, friendliness goes only so far. He appreciates the accommodating service and satisfying chebureks (fried savory pies) but complains of dryish lulya (ground lamb) kebabs, manti (dumplings) stuffed with gristly meat, and undersalted lamb-barley soup. Over all, Joe concludes, Salut, Cheburechnaya, and Tandoori Bukharian Bakery are better bets.

Zhemchuzhina (formerly Shalom) [Rego Park]
64-47 108th Street (near 64th Road), Rego Park, Queens
718-275-2220

Board Link: Salute vs. Cheburechnaya?

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