By New Times
By Robrt L. Pela
By Lauren Saria and Heather Hoch
By Deborah Sussman
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Kathleen Vanesian
By Eric Schaefer
By Heather Hoch
After dinner, there are a few rotating desserts to choose from in the restaurant's refrigerated case. The gummy baklava, if displayed, should be skipped. And Russian cakes, although light and moist, are forgettable and hardly seem necessary after a filling Uzbek meal.
If it weren't for its bright, fluorescent lights and deli case counter, Golden Valley might seem like the setting for a celebration in the dining room of an Uzbek home. And indeed, for the restaurant's primary customer base of Bukharan Jews and Muslim Uzbeks, family events and special occasions often are held at the restaurant.
There is a single TV that plays Uzbek music videos, and décor touches — shimmering rose curtains, scalloped white tablecloths, and gleaming silver trays that hold condiments as well as a single pack of chewing gum — seem to express a strong tradition of homespun hospitality.
8115 N. 19th Ave., #A101
Phoenix, AZ 85021
Region: North Phoenix
It is Uzbekistan remembered, but for the men who operate the restaurant, a tribute to a country they can never return to.
Samidinov, Toshpolatov, and owner Khayroollo Polatov are political refugees who, along with several others, were brought to Phoenix by the United Nations after spending a year in a refugee camp following Uzbekistan's 2005 Andijan massacre.
Many have not seen their families since that day. And although, Samidinov was reunited with his wife and children, who fled the country and came to Phoenix in 2009, he expresses sadness for those less fortunate. For Samidinov, Golden Valley provides a setting of food and place to bring the surrounding Uzbek community (which he says numbers around 200) together. It's a support system he's most thankful for.
"In a way," he says, "We're all connected."