Jibek Jolu offers unique Kyrgyzstan cuisine

May 4, 2013 (CHICAGO)

"Kyrgys food is a mixture of several cuisines. We adapt from everywhere," said Albina Urmat, a co-owner of Jibek Jolu. "We have a little bit of Mongolian food, we have a little bit of Russian, Chinese and Turkish."

From the Russian side, blinchiki, which begin as thin pancakes, then envelop cottage cheese or sauteed vegetables.

"Dumplings, a lot of dumplings like pelmeni or blinchiki; those are from Russian food. Or soups, we have saliyanka and borscht," she said.

Noodles are hand-pulled, in a tradition that dates back centuries. The first phase is a bit mundane - just pulling and stretching - but once the cook gets going, her hand-pulling is mesmerizing. Boiled for just a minute or two, they're quickly tossed in a bowl then topped with a saute of daikon radish, peppers and beef.

Another Asian touch - manty - thick, overstuffed steamed dumplings that clearly originated in Asia. The Mongolian beef has multiple personalities: the thinly-sliced, cooked beef seems Chinese, but the sides of mashed potatoes and carrot-vegetable sauce are pure Russia. The fact that the kitchen cooks for its hard-core regulars only enhances the experience.

"I think for them it's like coming home again," she said.

So Central Asian cuisine - specifically Kyrgy food - has all kinds of influences; from Russia to China, even Turkey, and the great thing is they are all supremely delicious.

Desserts are almost more Mediterranean-influenced, including honey cake, baklava and tiramisu.

Jibek Jolu
5047 N. Lincoln Ave.
(773) 878-8494

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