Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ultimate Fusion Food: Korean-Uzbek in Brighton Beach

Braised meat-filled cabbage
Once a month I join fellow food blogger Yoshie Okabayashi and her hungry band of Ramen + Friends eaters to scour the boroughs in search of killer Asian cheap eats to experience together. Typical stops include Flushing, Elmhurst, and Chinatown. Today is a first in Brighton Beach for Korean-Uzbek-Russian food at Cafe At Your Mother-In-Law. 

Selection of Korean salads
Brighton Beach has long been one of my favorite foodie destinations for the afternoon. Now dining at the Cafe is one more reason to go. It's just steps off of Brighton Beach Ave., the main street lined with delectable gourmet shops.

The dining room is bright and clean but sparse. You go for the food. Owner Elza Kan is Korean from Uzbekistan, a minority population brought to the country by Stalin. So borscht and savory blinis share the menu with an assortment of kimchi. Actually the Korean styled pickled salads are well worth trying. Our salad samplings ($3.49 - $7.99/lb) included a delicious eggplant hye, Korean carrot, soybean sprouts, and something called fish hye, a fermented raw tilapia in a vinegar, garlic, and chili sauce. I ate the entire bowl myself. They sell the salads in to-go containers, too, in case you need to take some home.

Classic Uzbek plov
On the Russian-Uzbek side, the plov ($6.50), lamb chunks cooked in seasoned rice, was hearty and rich. The lamb-stuffed cabbage rolls ($4.99) were tasty. And you can wash it all down with a pitcher of compot ($5), a stewed fruit juice. If that proves too sweet, you can always buy a can of 99 cent Ukranian lager around the corner and bring it in. It's BYOB.

Delicious fish hye
Before you leave the neighborhood, be sure to hit Brighton Beach Ave., to stock up on some gourmet goodies. Vintage Food Corp is a must for bulk dried fruits and nuts of every kind. Definitely end the afternoon with a giant mak, the famous Russian poppy seed sweet roll ($1.25), from nearby Gold Label Deli. Look for the woman selling them from the store's bakery window. Fresh from the oven, it makes for one happy ending.

3071 Brighton 4th Street
between Brighton Beach Ave. + Oceanview Ave.

Elza's Fancy Food on Urbanspoon


  1. Great post--I'll definitely have to try Gold Label Deli! Hope to see you soon:)

  2. All this while our neighboring table had plates come to them with meat stacked up literally FLINTSTONE sized! It truly blew my mind. This place is a must if you are in the area, and leave the kids at home! Taxi Brighton to London

    1. So true. This place is always on my list of stops in Brighton, even if it's to carry out.