99 ESSENTIAL RESTAURANTS®

IN BROOKLYN

K

Karczma

Photo by Dominic Perri

136 Greenpoint Avenue

718-349-1744

Monday to Thursday noon to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday noon to 11:30 p.m., Sunday noon to 10 p.m.

karczmabrooklyn.com

Located on a wide busy street in the ever-changing Greenpoint, Karczma represents a mix of the old and new segments of this neighborhood. The menu reflects the predilections of the area's long-entrenched Polish population and the restaurant has the feel of a place that has been here forever. But it actually opened in 2007, when Urszula and Slawek Letowski teamed with chef Krzysztof Drzewiecki, a former Nobu line cook who hails from Poznan, Poland. Karczma's wooden decor and waitresses in Polish folk dresses lend an Epcot-like sheen to the space, but beneath the wagon-wheel chandeliers, you’ll find some of the best authentic Polish food in town: standards like crisp, hubcap-size potato pancakes; stuffed cabbage topped with tomato sauce; and, every few weeks, more obscure offerings like sauerkraut soup and fried veal liver with apples and onions. Order a Polish beer with your meal and, if you’re lucky, take in some live music — a touch that, like the excellent service, makes this place even more lovable.

Kashkar Cafe

Photo by René Atchison

1141 Brighton Beach Avenue

718-743-3832

Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

kashkarcafe.com

You can thank owner Khasiyat Sabitova — whose family emigrated to New York from China by way of Uzbekistan in the 1960s — for introducing the United States to Uyghur cuisine. The boldly spiced food comes from the Turkic people whose ancestors settled across Central Asia, primarily in Xinjiang, China, an autonomous area that borders Russia and Afghanistan. Noodles and lamb, cooked in numerous ways (and often together) feature heavily at Sabitova’s Kashkar Cafe in Brighton Beach, perfumed with spices like cumin, peppercorns, and garlic. The menu splits its offerings between Uyghur and Uzbek fare, offering platters of thin-skinned dumplings called manty and juicy kebabs skewered onto steel rapiers. Acquaint yourself with lagman noodles, stir-fried with onions and peppers or served in a gamy broth with carrots. Hand pulling yields a pudgy, uneven pasta with feisty chew. Sip locally made Chersi sodas, virgin Russian bubbly that comes in flavors like bubblegum and tarragon. The restaurant's bright-orange signage stands out on its South Brooklyn thoroughfare, and inside, colorful woven curtains and hanging beads spruce up an otherwise understated room. Despite this and the occasional music video blasting on TV, service takes on a personal tone. You're reminded that above all, this is a family restaurant.