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Kuksu is a noodle soup whose name means “noodle soup” in Korean.
This week Counter Culture rolls into one of the city’s most unique restaurants, Elza Fancy Foods. The menu represents the Uzbek-Korean-Russian cooking of Uzbekistan’s Korean population. Much of the food is cheap, fascinating, and delicious, too. Here are our recommendations for the first-timer.
1. Kuksu (above photo) — At first glance this looks like a routine Chinese lo mein soup, only skewed toward Korean tastes, but a second reveals that the roster of ingredients makes this more like a floating form of bibimbap. And who ever heard of lo mein with lamb? No matter how you interpret it, the soup is scrumptious and a perfect light meal.
2. Chicken Tabaka — This Georgian invention (aka “roadkill chicken”) is smashed under a brick as it’s roasted, and was transmitted to nearly every corner of the former Soviet Union. In the Korean-Uzbek style, though, it’s presented without broth and smeared with a sweet chili sauce.
3. Mash-Hurdy — Basically, it’s a minute steak smeared with mayo and wrapped up inside a thin omelet. Did it originate as a Uzbek form of fast food? Origin aside, this wrap is one you won’t be embarrassed to be seen eating.
This is the Brighton Beach branch, but there’s one nearly identical in Bensonhurst.
4. Samsa — This hand-held pastry can be had stuffed with pumpkin or stuffed with lamb. Three would make a full meal.
5. Tripe Hye — This is one of a series of cold salads on the menu laced with chili sauce. In this case, in addition to carrots, the main ingredient is honeycomb cow tripe, and you’ve never tasted tenderer.
6. Yug-Gyadya — This is the Ikea furniture kit of soups. All the ingredients are provided, and you must turn it into something special. The soup in the bowl is a simple beef broth with pieces of meat in the bottom.
7. Hanum — Thin pasta handkerchiefs smeared with tomato sauce and caramelized onions. And it doesn’t taste Italian in the least.
Elza Fancy Foods
3071 Brighton 4th Street
Brighton Beach, Brooklyn
Elza Fancy Foods
8611 19th Avenue
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