Sake Gumi
En route to Coney Island this past weekend, I stopped over in Brighton Beach, which is filled with combination English/Cyrillic storefronts like this video/bookstore:

We decided to try Cafe Kashkar, an Uyghur place written about in the Village Voice and elsewhere. Surrounded by Russian restaurants and large, hilariously-stocked grocery stores like M&I International Foods, Kashkar is interesting because of its focus on Uyghur cuisine, the product of a Muslim people from the upper northwest reaches of China.

(As an aside: Xinxiang, the home province of the Uighurs, is apparently not the same thing as Xinxiang, a city in Hunan that I had thought was the source of the lamb skewers I've had on a great street cart in Flushing… still could be the case, but I'm not positive now.)

Anyways, Uyghur food, at least at Cafe Kashkar, hews closer to Central Asian fare than Chinese-inflected, as Eating in Translation has observed. Kashkar has a modest interior (the chairs were the ubiquitous cheap-Chinese-restaurant variety), but one enlivened by the extremely courteous proprietor, the babushka in the kitchen, and the oval windows between the kitchen and dining room that allowed us to watch the massive sparks from the grill--presumably as fat bubbled and dripped off of the delicious meats that are a hallmark of Central Asian cuisine. We sat in between men of indeterminate Slavic origin who, at one table, were downing six-packs of Heineken, and at the other, multiple shots of vodka.

On offer were various fresh and pickled salads, an intimidatingly large sausage curled up behind a glass case, an assortment of kebabs (aka shashliki), mutton-and-onion dumplings called manty, plov and a few kinds of noodles and soups (the lagman, which combined homemade noodles reminiscent of Fujianese hand-pulled variety, but with a rich red broth, chunks of stewed meat, herbs, and onions on top, looked particularly good).

We opted for the eggplant salad (sorry, didn't get a photo of it), the manty, and some kebabs. The lamb rib kebabs were tasty, but had virtually no meat on them. The regular lamb kebabs were delicious (all the grilled meats come on massive, blade-tipped steel skewers), though.

The pot of green tea was excellent, too. It was brewed to a beautiful golden color (was it ti guan yin? The name of this variety is escaping me at the moment, but I've definitely had it before) and, contrary to my usual low expectations of ordering tea in restaurants, was actually hot enough when it arrived to get a good depth of flavor from the leaves. It's served in cups that are more like saucers; they widen out around their edges (visualize an inverted sombrero) so that the tea cools and spreads out slightly as it hits your lips.

After a 25-minute wait, the manty (mutton dumplings) finally arrived--apparently, the previous batch had just run out and they had to make more from scratch (in Chinese fashion, according to the menu, you can buy them frozen in large batches). The manty were sided with a vinegary, slightly spicy tomato sauce that did a good job of cutting the grease of these tennis-ball sized orbs. Cooked with onion and herbs, the mutton inside was coarsely chopped and flavorful. The Heineken-guzzlers next to us ate a plate each in addition to a wheel of the naan-like bread, which seems inconceivable--two manty and I was finished eating for the day.

I recommend Cafe Kashkar for your next trip to Brighton Beach, and you can always go for a ride on the Cyclone afterwards to help you digest. It's just a Q ride away!

Cafe Kashkar
1141 Brighton Beach Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11235


  • Hmm…I didn’t get that vinegary tomato sauce with my manti when I ate there! I think that would have been good, darn.

    soopling on

  • MOSVIDEOFILM! hilarious. great post Tyson! those mantys look intense- definitely curious to try this.

    kayoko on

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