Café Dushanbe


Photo by René Atchison

1788 Sheepshead Bay Road


Open daily, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Among South Brooklyn's numerous Uzbek restaurants, Sheepshead Bay's Café Dushanbe stands out for its superlative renditions of native standards like rice pilaf and crusty samsa (dough pockets stuffed with meat or vegetables). It's also the only place in New York — and one of the few places outside of Central Asia — where you can sample dishes from Tajikistan, the landlocked nation that borders Uzbekistan, China, and Kyrgyzstan. One of its national dishes, qurutob, arrives at the table in a hubcap-size wooden bowl bearing a Matterhorn-shaped mound of braised lamb, sweet peppers, and herbs. Underneath you'll find a deliciously soggy mess of fatir, a flatbread, which softens in boiled yogurt sauce. Round out your meal with cold salads made from vegetables like radishes and cucumbers tossed with yogurt, or meats including sliced boiled tongue with horseradish and sweet fried onions. Kebabs sizzle away over charcoal, while tabaka chickens served with sour plum sauce fry in cast iron. The kitchen even takes inspiration from French cooking, sautéing shiitake, oyster, and button mushrooms for a side dish and serving beef bourguignon in a thick red-wine gravy. Sop up it and other delectable sauces with puffy Tajik non, a bread that looks like an oversize bialy filled with melted shallots.