By Pamela Wong
PARK SLOPE – I wasn’t sure what to expect from Uzbek cuisine. I feared the options at the new Nargis Bar & Grill might be too meat-heavy for me. While meat does feature prominently on Nargis’ menu in the form of kebabs, manti (dumplings), and plov (rice pilaf with chunks of lamb), there are also plenty of salads, veggies, and fish offerings.
I visited Nargis a couple of weeks after its early September opening at the former Nana space located at 155 5th Avenue. While the restaurant’s interior is beautifully designed with lots of dangling pendant lights and colorful seat cushions, my date and I opted to take advantage of the warm evening and sit in the spacious, zen-like back garden, complete with a flowing water fountain and bamboo-lined walls.
Service was efficient and no-nonsense, promptly delivering our drinks and appetizers. The avocado salad and the herring (served with fingerling potatoes) were both generously portioned, fresh, and satisfying. We could have stopped there and been completely content, but our entree orders were placed and on their way.
The manti with pumpkin can be ordered steamed or pan-fried. I opted for steamed and the four plump dumplings were delivered piping hot inside a steamer basket. My dinner date described the Chuchvara (sautéed handmade beef dumplings with caramelized onions) as a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs classic.
Since neither of us had ever tried chicken hearts, we ordered the kebab. Grilled over wood coals, the kebabs are impressively presented—the dozen or so hearts were spiked through a long, medieval-like skewer.
The original Nargis Cafe was opened by owner and head chef, Boris Bangiyevat, in Sheepshead Bay (2818 Coney Island Avenue) a decade ago. A popular dining destination in southern Brooklyn, Bangiyev said in a 2016 interview that one-fourth of his customers there travel in from Manhattan and even New Jersey.
With delicious, generously-sized dishes served in an elegant and inviting environment, diners will soon be traveling from far and wide to visit this Uzbek gem in Park Slope.