Update: I made my second visit on Monday, July 17, 2000. The first dish, the herring and beet salad in sour cream with diced potato, was nice. But the second dish absolutely floored me: Lamb Hunkarbegendi. This dish is on the menu as Chicken Hunkarbegendi, and it would probably be terrific with chicken, but it is actually originally a lamb recipe. The meat is utterly tender, deliciously spiced, covered with paprika, with whole garlic cloves and lots of caramelized onion. That part alone was wonderful.
But the killer for me was that the whole works was served on a bed of pureed smoked eggplant. That too was delicious alone but the combination made me swoon. Definitely a keeper!
The remainder of this review is from May 2000.
I've visited this restaurant once---so far. I think I'll be trying it again. There were problems, but I had some great food too.
The concept is pretty ambitious: several cuisines from the historical Silk Road---Turkey, Russia, Middle East, China, and even a few Italian dishes. Many of the dishes are small and less expensive (around $6), a bit larger than dim sum or tapas portions. They have some more ambitious dishes in the range of $12 and up.
My visit was in mid-May 2000, at 5pm on a weekday evening. The waitress, though enthusiastic and reasonably attentive, was new and did not know the menu at all. Furthermore she gave me a picture menu that was apparently the wrong one, although it was in the same stack as the right ones. I pored over the picture menu and was very impressed by the beauty and variety of dishes---but I had to make six selections to get two that were actually available. The waitress had to go back to the kitchen each time to find out that the dish was off the menu, so I found the service rather frustrating and slow.
Still, the two I got were very tasty and attractive dishes:
Here are the ones I tried to order and failed, just for the record:
They ran a cart of cold plates by me that had some interesting items on it that I passed up in favor of hot dishes. I was attracted to the Russian pickled herring and beet salad, as well as the Turkish imam bayildi, braised eggplant stuffed with tomato, garlic, onion and parsley.
I took home one of their photocopied menus. It shows 12 Turkish, 8 Russian, 8 Chinese, 8 Middle Eastern, and 6 Italian dishes. Even if most of the dishes exist only in the kitchen's imagination, there should still be lots of interesting choices. Here are some relatively conventional choices:
Here are some uncommon selections I hope to try:
Since this is such a new place, please send me e-mail (email@example.com) if you try it. I'm quite curious to hear whether my experiences were typical.
Directions: 5809-A Juan Tabo, (505) 271-0340. From I-40, go north on Eubank---way way north until you reach the Mountain Run Center, where Juan Tabo Boulevard curves around to intersect Eubank. Turn east on Juan Tabo and go a long block or so and look for a chunk of strip mall along that street on the right, separated from the rest of Mountain Run Center. Silk Road is at the far eastern end.