Tucked away in an unassuming Gaithersburg shopping center between a massage parlor and a dry-cleaner is one of the best hidden gems in the DC-area food scene. Named for the ancient trade route linking the East and West, Silk Road Choyhona offers a delicious array of Uzbek cuisine.
Make sure you arrive hungry – there are so many mouthwatering items on the menu that you will want to stuff them all into the limited space in your stomach. While the dining room has a typical Western table setup, for a more authentic experience ask for the semi-private traditional dining area where customers sit cross-legged on a unique Central Asian carpeted bench. We typically start off our meal with assorted pickled vegetables and the Olivier salad, the latter being a mayonnaise-based dish popular across Central Asia, much of Europe, and Latin America. Offal lovers will want to opt for the delectable beef tongue with horseradish.
With influences from the East, specifically China, dumplings known as manti are a popular dish throughout Uzbekistan. Silk Road offers a tasty beef manti that is pan-fried and served with sour yogurt. Another can’t-miss offering is Plov, a traditional Uzbek rice dish studded with chunks of lamb meat, shredded carrots, chili peppers, raisins, and roasted garlic on top.
Despite all of these amazing offerings, where Silk Road Choyhona really shines is on the grill. Their huge variety of shish kebabs are hard to choose between, but we think that these three are a must: the grilled chicken wings, which have a savory marinade that I have not tasted anywhere else; the grilled lamb chops, because who doesn’t love meat on the bone; and the veal liver kebab, with its tender gamey flavor.
If you still have room after all that food, your best bet is the flaky napoleon pastry that offers a sweet ending to your meat-heavy meal.
You will find yourself returning to Silk Road until you have tried every item on the menu and then going back for more. On our first visit, we learned that the restaurant doesn’t serve booze. Luckily it is BYOB – so do yourself a favor and bring a bottle of vodka along. Your waiter will eagerly arrive at your table with a tray of shot glasses to encourage you to dine as the Uzbeks do.