After a long search, we’ve found the best laghman in town: on Gogol Street near Gorky Park. I’ve ordered the “As Kazan” laghman several times now, and it’s simply the best. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not much of a spicy, burn-your-mouth guy, so I’m happy to report that As Kazan laghman has the perfect heat level for me. Plus, it has bean sprouts, which I grew to enjoy during college. We order the blander “house” laghman for our kids, which they love. See photos.
Those who have frequented restaurants in Central Asia know that they can be perilous, especially with little kids. No, I’m not talking about food poisoning, although that can be an issue. I’m talking about the essential flat-screen TV playing loud, obnoxious, trashy music videos. Sometimes its possible to hide from the TV by finding a side room or a table in a corner. However, restaurant managers must have noticed our TV-avoiding tactics because some restaurants now have several flat-screens, making it nearly impossible to shield ourselves and our children from women in tight, scanty clothes gyrating in front of the camera. The male performers are no better, singing about–you guessed it–sex, money and more sex. It’s not very original, but it’s very effective. After all, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (I John 2:16) have been around for thousands of years.
The videos, most of them produced in the USA, make me embarrassed to be an American. America likes to export its culture; unfortunately, not everything is worth sharing.
Getting back to laghman, the wonderful restaurant we found has nowhere to hide from the flat-screen. My wife was bold enough to ask if they would change the channel for us, and the waitress kindly obliged. Somehow it ended up on the Discovery channel and my kids loved watching polar bears and tropical fish and other wholesome science stuff as they munched their noodles. Ever since then, we always ask for the Discovery channel when we go to laghman, and the waitresses are always happy to help.
Our laghman and Discovery channel combo was humming along smoothly until this week. Then it backfired. Apparently, they hadn’t bothered to change the channel back to flashy music videos after our last visit because Discovery was already on when we walked in. However, instead of cute polar bears or koalas, we saw naked people in a jungle. Oh well, I thought. It’s probably a documentary about some tribe in the Amazon. At least it’s real life, and even tribes in the Amazon wear loincloths or something along those lines.
But as the food came and the show continued, it became clear that the people were in fact wearing nothing. Discovery had thoughtfully blurred the essential areas of the body, but there was still a lot in full view. Let me tell you, bean sprouts or no bean sprouts, laghman just isn’t quite the same with a bottom staring at you out of the TV.
It also became clear that these people were not Amazon tribespeople. Instead, it seemed to be some sort of reality-survival show. Of the two participants, the guy apparently couldn’t hack it because he was hospitalized about halfway through our meal. Never did someone look so much better in a hospital gown. The female participant apparently had more jungle prowess and managed to survive through another commercial break.
“She has a British accent,” my wife said, as she listened carefully to pick out the English words under the Russian dubbing.
“Oh, thank God,” I replied (my apologies to our readers from the UK). “Americans have done enough embarrassing things.”
As if to prove my point, the next show was a “Storage Wars” knockoff. A crowd of hooligans pushed, shoved and cussed at each other as they bid on storage lockers. America, this is not good for your international image.
Next time we go out to laghman, I’m hoping Discovery’s programming is a little more conducive to eating–like maybe “shark attacks” or “tarantula wasps” or “the life cycle of termites.”
Now cover your eyes and eat your food.