Khodja Nasreddin in Khiva

A Gourmet Adventure

If you are ever overwhelmed by an urge to escape Moscowand visit an exotic land to enjoy bountiful quantities of delicious food and copious amounts of entertainment, but you only have one evening to spare and $50 in your pocket, then sidestep the customs and baggage claim queues and retreat to the restaurant, Khodja Nasreddin in Khiva. One step inside the door and you enter the enchanting world of Uzbekistan and the ancient city of Khiva.

After being greeted warmly by the restaurant staff in traditional Uzbekistan dress my fiancé and I were escorted to our table across a small “bridge” where you get a panoramic view across the roof tops of the city. This replica is quite remarkable and includes mosques, minarets, portals and cupolas. The restaurant is an intriguing clutter of ornaments and artefacts, mats, tea rooms and both open and intimate dining areas. Conventional tables exist but it is worth trying the more interesting low tables for the more comfortable and traditional experience.

The restaurant has a second floor which, we were told by the restaurant’s manager, is a replica of Muhamad Rakhim Khan’s harem which was part of his palace. It is worth noting the unique photos of this business and military man on the walls of the entrance to the second floor dining area. We visited the restaurant late Saturday afternoon and this floor was awash with children being thoroughly entertained by a variety of clowns. The manager informed us that the shutters of this floor are always closed and the clocks remain stopped to give the impression of the non-existence of time, as it was during the Rakhim Khan’s era.

Returning to our table we removed our shoes and immersed ourselves in the array of cushions and pillows and lay dreaming of what life must have been like in Uzbekistan at the time of the legendary figure Khodja Nasreddin, as we prepared to select our meal.

The menu makes interesting reading and the numerous intriguing dishes offering almost every part of an animal’s anatomy are laced with stories and names of famous merchants, travellers and warriors who ate these dishes many years ago. The shashlik with sheep’s testicles will have the men crossing their legs when they order.

We both chose the salmon “Termez Style” ($12) with amber caviar for a cold starter and had the salmon “Muynaksky Style” ($18) with roasted spinach, and veal “Koreyka” ($26) for main dishes. We ordered bread “Cake of Khiva” ($3) which was freshly baked in the onsite Uzbekistan bakery and a side dish of pickled vegetables “Kyzyl-Kumsky” ($10).

This was all washed down with a glass of young Uzbek red wine ($13) a glass of “Le Sommelier” ($8) and raspberry fruit brandy ($3).

I have to admit that by this stage of the proceedings we were a little overextended, gastronomically, to attempt desert but a quick glance at the menu revealed an extensive and extremely tempting selection ($6-17).

In addition to the memorable meal the out-of-town experience to be had at Khodja Nasreddin in Khiva is further enhanced by entrancing belly dancing performances each evening and special one hour shows of dance, musicals andopera each Friday and Saturday nights commencing at around 22:00, all complimentary with your meal.

25.10.2003

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