The Bukharian food plated, bowled, and served hot and doughy in lidded bamboo baskets at Café Chenar is Bukharian — the food of a Jewish minority of Uzbekistan. This is the native country of the Uvaydov family, whose matriarch, Mazel, presides over the cooking of Café Chenar. The family also runs LaBella Pizzeria and Kitchen 18 in Scottsdale, but Café Chenar is where the Bukharian wonders live. This central Asian restaurant of soups, dumplings, kebabs, and Cornish hens is a return to family roots after catering to other palates. Diners sit in a spare, sleek modern dining room chatting softly over porcelain teapots, green tea issuing warming steam from deeply blue, gold-rimmed cups. From one angle, to eat at Café Chenar is to embrace a vast world of dumplings. Dough pockets come large and small, pan-fried and deep-fried, steamed and souped. They come as manti, pelmeni, and hanum. But this is just one angle through which to see Café Chenar. There are other enclaves of the menu, plenty of sub-categories to hungrily roam. Don’t miss the extensive selection of kebabs, flat metal skewers ripe with, ideally, sweetbreads and lamb ribs. Or a section of well-priced savory hand pies, like beef-rich samsa. You can also enjoy larger-format plates, like Cornish hen and molded-rice mountains of plov. The way to best experience this food at the crossroads of European, Asian, Russian, and Jewish traditions is to order small, widely, and to share. Café Chenar is an important cog not only in our kosher restaurant scene, but in our food culture as a whole. New Normal: Seating is limited inside, but Café Chenar’s kosher menu is available via takeout and third-party delivery services.
1601 E. Bell Rd., Suite A-11, Phoenix, 85022