Saturday, January 26, 2019

Uzbekistan: Dining Out: Key Town

A moment after our waiter had placed a dish of sliced, raw steak on our table, I leaned in with the tongs to select a piece of meat.

“Stop!” the waiter instructed.  “I will give you a demonstration.”

Then he placed a slice of beef on the domed cooking surface over the burner in the center of the table and walked away.

Eitan and I, along with our friend Chloe, were trying a new Korean barbeque place, and our evening started off on a puzzling note.

“Should I do something with this?” I wondered aloud.

“No,” Chloe responded, “he’s giving us a demonstration.  I’m sure he’ll come back soon.”

The meat was only a few millimeters thick, and it turned into a crispy, black curl in a few minutes.  The demonstration was a bust, but I ate the meat scrap anyway.

I leaned in with the tongs once more to add fresh meat to the grill, and our waiter magically appeared.  This time he was accompanied by the owner.

“Let me do that for you,” the owner said as he reached for the tongs.

He loaded up the grill, coated the meat with marinade, and unlike the waiter, he didn’t disappear.

As the owner was tending the meat, a different waiter delivered some banchan (small complimentary side dishes including kimchi and other salads), a grilled mackerel Eitan had ordered, and some vodka.  Unfortunately, soju wasn’t on the menu.

This second waiter who had delivered our food and drink spoke English.  He was self-taught from watching movies, and despite his apologies for his skill level, I thought he spoke very well.

It was difficult to see much of the dining room from our booth, but at the few tables I could see, people were merrily cooking their own meat.  I wondered if we were getting the services of a personal chef because we were clearly foreigners or if we were deemed to be incompetent.  Perhaps it was a combination of the two.

Whatever the reason for the royal treatment, we were soon enjoying bites of tender meat wrapped in lettuce with all the trimmings.

Eventually the owner hung up his tongs and switched off the grill, and the three of us renewed our memberships in the clean plate club.  When we finally pushed away from the table, the only thing left was a three-pack of ferocious garlic breath.


The bottom line on Key Town:


    Tasty ü


    Attentive ü

Overall Experience:

    Memorable ü

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