Stop reading this restaurant review now if you have no intention of ever visiting an establishment where middle-aged matrons hefting over 100 kg still shake it to Gangnam Style. If you missed the first wave two years back, or still harbor nostalgia for music to grow mullets, read on.
Saturday evening we met up with a couple and their kid at Orman Jan (Орман джан), a Kyrgyz resto-dance located right behind [the far superior] Barashek. If you aren’t yet familiar with the Central Asian resto-disco they’re basically a restaurant outfitted with a dance floor, a DJ, disco balls and strobe lights. Patrons come, eat, and dance between dishes. Coming from China two years ago this was a shock – in China all non-classical and non-Chinese pop is viewed with irascible suspicion by the older generations. I’ve haven’t come across more than a handful of Chinese over forty who would even listen to – much less boogie to – Western hits. But here every aged ass shakes (literally).
So – Orman Jan…let’s be honest: the service was actually good, the prices were relatively inexpensive (salads for 100-200 som, kebabs for 130-190, soups for 100-150, steaks for 400-500, most drinks under 100), but the food itself poorly represented the local culinary repertoire. Bland salads, stringy kebabs that tasted like they came from an old sheep. We actually left an entire kebab untouched, still on the skewer. If you want real food and oh-so-tender-still-pink-meat, go to Barashek next door.
But if you’re coming for a style of entertainment found only in Central Asia, and don’t have time to hit up the small-town clubs, then it is pretty choice. Duran Duran, Men Without Hats, Bollywood hits, technofied Kyrgyz folk songs, the Macarena (for which everyone knew all the words, but only one little girl actually had down the moves), Russian songs sang with gusto, and, of course, Gangnam Style. Apart from our party us the patrons were almost all women – a dozen women in their mid-to-late late twenties accompanied by their young kids who seemed to be there for a birthday party, and five women pushing the upper bar of middle age (and the upper end of the scale) dancing with utmost abandon. And yes, they all knew all the moves to gangam style, from the five year old kids who ran around chasing the strobe lights between sets, to a pregnant woman in heels, to the older group of Kyrgyz women with greying and curled hair and heavy gold jewelry. I suppose it’s the Kyrgyz equivalent of Square Dancing in the US, before our post-dinner dancing became so age-segregated some fifty, sixty years back.
So, the basics:
Location: Right behind Barashek, off of Aaly Tokombayeva at the turn to the 11th Microrayon
Prices: About 300-600 som/person for a full dinner; 40 som/person charged for the music
Perks: Outdoor seating, outdoor playground for kids, 80’s disco dancing, decent service; BONUS: there’s a roaming restaurant photographer, just in case you ever wanted glossy photographic proof that you did the congo in Kyrgyzstan
Recommended: Not for the food, but if you like to disco…