49/52 – Rus Uz

12/3/16—Rus Uz is a Russian-Uzbek restaurant across the street from my apartment in Ballston. I must have passed by it a hundred times before noticing that it was on the Washingtonian list of DC’s 100 Best Restaurants. I had never tried Russian or Uzbek food before, but I’m always excited to try new cuisines. I grabbed my friend Vanessa for a Saturday night dinner before going to a friend’s birthday party.

As I was perusing the menu online before our dinner, I came across the vodka specials…and had my mind completely blown. After all this time living in my neighborhood, how was I only just now realizing the restaurant across the street does $5 infused vodka shots AT ALL TIMES? And they are just $4 each if you order a platter of 6 at a time. The list of flavors for the infusions was pretty extensive, too. Vanessa and I agreed that we must do the platter, so we started out the meal by ordering the following infused vodkas: green apple, ginger & mint, horseradish, apricot, rosemary, and blueberry. The only one that neither of us was a fan of was the blueberry. After we had tasted them all, Vanessa ended up finishing the savory ones and I polished off the sweet ones, for the most part. As we sipped our vodkas, the waiter brought over some fresh bread and a house spread that I’m pretty sure was some type of sour cream.

For our appetizer, we ordered the Samsa—thinly rolled butter dough stuffed with seasoned dices of lamb, onions, and spices, and baked to a crisp. The filling was really good on these, but there wasn’t enough of it…the dough-to-filling ratio was larger than I would have liked. Vanessa agreed with my assessment.

For our entrees, we both ordered Uzbek dishes. Vanessa chose the Manti, “a staple in Uzbek cuisine.” It was large steamed dumplings with marinated dices of lamb and onions, served with a yogurt, tomato based sauce on top. The dumplings were soft, flavorful, and delicious. The combination of the yogurt and tomato made for a creamy and tangy sauce that was quite nice.

I ordered the Plov, the national dish of Uzbekistan. It was a plate of rice mixed with carrots, chickpeas, raisins, spices, and lamb. I couldn’t put my finger on what all of the spices were, but they all worked very well together. The lamb was a little bit on the dry side, but, aside from that, I really enjoyed this dish. It also came with a side of raw salad made of red onion, tomato, and cucumber, meant to be mixed in with the rice. The raw vegetables added little pops of freshness to the dish.

The waiter then brought over a platter of all the dessert offerings, and explained what each one was. They all looked amazing, but we had to decline due to the fact that we were headed to a birthday party where there would be plenty of cake. I might have to go back soon to try some of the desserts, though (and probably have some cheap infused vodka shots while I’m at it).

Now that I have tried Russian and Uzbek cuisine, I can confidently say that I am a fan. I am also a fan of $5 infused vodka shots. If you are craving any of those things, you definitely must check out Rus Uz.

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