From the way I hate on Brooklyn you’d think the only reason I went there was to eat weird ice cream and bitch about Ramen Burger lines. The truth about the County of Kings though is that there’s all sorts of foods available there that just can’t be found in Queens, from the Sicilian specialties at Joe’s of Avenue U in Gravesend to the Kyrgyz cuisine at Café Avat in Bath Beach. Savvy readers will note that both of these neighborhoods are blissfully free of hipsters and the food trends they slavishly worship.
My home turf of Rego Park has plenty of Uzbek kebab houses, but the cuisine of Kyrgyzstan is woefully under-represented. So when Dave Cook of Eating in Translation asked me to join a crew of like-minded eaters for dinner at Café Avat just down the street from the fourth to last stop on the D train I immediately said yes.
We ordered like a troop of Silk Road traders who’d been riding hard, several salads, a noodle dish, a rice dish, three meat dishes, and my favorite item of the night something called ashlym-fu ($6.50). Fascinated by the name I asked Dave about it. Rather than explain it he suggested that I take a gander when it came out. It resembled a Central Asian version of two dishes more commonly seen in Flushing, the cold skin noodles at Xi’an Famous Foods or the country style green bean sheet popular in the hood’s Dongbei spots. Really, it defies comparison, but the Silk Road influence is evident.
It consisted of a cool tangle of chewy hand-pulled lagman noodles in a lake of spicy red sauce surmounted by a mountain of cucumber; tomato; chives and eggs; and slippery blocks of mung bean jelly. It was so good I couldn’t stop eating it. A perfect dish for a humid summer night. Our crew made quick work of it mopping up the bright red sauce with crusty Uzbek bread. I have a feeling I’ll be taking another trip to Bath Beach before summer’s end.
Café Avat, 2158 Bath Ave., Brooklyn, 718-676-4667