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Almaty restaurants are improving in quality all the time. Any good restaurant knows that there is more to satisfying its customers than good food. And the very best restaurants understand that what they represent is their country's traditions and the knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Here in our region such wisdom teaches us of the value of our future, embodied in our children, and of respect for those ancestors to whom we owe our existence. And through nothing more than our great hospitality do visitors experience the best of Central Asia.
This is the philosophy of the Uzbek Alasha Restaurant.
Visiting Alasha is far more than a dining experience, it is a journey into another world. From the minute you arrive the Oriental hospitality welcomes you into a magical world not just of delicious food but of Central Asian dreams, daily from 12:00 until the last customer leaves.
The Alasha is a traditional hand-made carpet laid for honoured guests and its presence here not only gives the restaurant its name but also adds to its inimitable character. Specially designed and built to resemble the ancient palaces of the khans (kings), Alasha has Uzbek-style gates and doors quite the equal of the work of ancient master craftsmen. The domes, decorated with ceramic tiles adorn the roof of a building with many distinctive features. The courtyard is fabulous and although not without contemporary elements, Alasha is very reminiscent of the royal fortresses of old. To complete the scene, a mountain brook and comfortable summer houses give diners the option of enjoying their meal in the fresh air.
The restaurant owners are proud to respect their traditions right to the extent that on every table sit Oriental cookies alongside delicacies such as fruits and nuts, as well as pahlava and kish-mish. Guests may enjoy tea or a hookah while they look through the menu, ultimately choosing from the very best regional dishes. The chefs are renowned across the region, everything from soup to rice, breads to shashliks a match for the best anywhere else. Much of the food, and indeed those who prepare it, are brought specially from neighbouring Uzbekistan, a country highly respected for its produce and the way it appears on the dinner table. Many other Almaty restaurants favour Uzbekistan as a source for their own ingredients.
The menu, too extensive to detail, is very much the definition of Uzbek gastronomy while acknowledging the fact that we are in Kazakhstan, a multi-ethnic nation, which has many types of local cuisine. Popular options include the barbecue dishes and the oven roasted mutton which the kings of the steppes are known to have eaten. Then there are more than ten different types of shashliks without which many people consider the Central Asian meal incomplete. The famous sorpa broth, also cooked with mutton, is also a must-try while the samsas are said to be worth the trip in themselves. Probably taking pride of place on the menu are the tandyr (oven) dishes including tortillas and plov (rice), especially the famous wedding plov and the regional Fergana plov.
Yet as history has us know, the khans and nomads of days gone by were not content with mere sustenance. Feasts, unless accompanied by the best entertainment, were unfit for any palace and as the famous alashas were rolled out it was not just the guests who walked them. At Alasha today such entertainment completes the fairy tale, skilful rope walkers, singers, musicians and stunning dancers amaze the guests and add to the magic of the whole experience. There is a fascinating show programme every night with a typical commencement time of 8:30 or 9:00 p.m.
Prepare for more than just a culinary adventure, come and step back in time.