Most Jews in New York descend from either Eastern Europe or, in the case of sephardic Jews, from Portugal and Spain. But there was another immense Jewish community in Central Asia, Burkharan Jews, and they eat out a lot, especially (but not only) in Queens.
The name means "tastes good" in Hebrew, and this tiny upper floor luncheonette in the diamond district lives up to it. These are the usual Bukharan specialties: kebabs, home fries, Israeli salad, aka chopped up tomatoes and cucumbers. The menu isn't big but everything on it is good, and more importantly, cheap. You won't find better food for the buck in midtown, especially if you are a sucker for lamb, as I am.
Salut 2000 is like a lot of Queens' Bukharan restaurants, only more so. It caters to Jewish emigres from central asia, but where many of its neighbors welcome outsiders, and even have things like complete English menus to give them, this is a true ethnic enclave, of the kind New York used to be so rich in. For some of us that makes it even more appealing. As for the menu, since all these restaurants have the exact same food, it's no problem: get lamb kebabs, pelmeni, chebureks, plov (pilaf), lagman (beef noodle) soup, and the big round tandoori breads called lepeshka.
Shalom's menu is right from the Bukharan playbook: various kinds of lamb-filled dumplings, the cumin-scented and fat-soaked rice dish called plov, and other dishes typical of central-Asian Jewry. The difference is that Shalom is bigger, noisier, and generally more joyous than its rivals. There's also some really extraordinary noodles, a house specialty worth a drive to check out.
It's not very fancy, but compared to most of the neighboring Bukharan and Uzbeki kosher restaurants, this one spent a lot on decor -- it's practically the Le Cirque of Rego Park. The chebureks which provide the restaurant's name are dumplings filled with coarse ground lamb, and best avoided. Go for the fine pelmeni (Siberian dumplings), plov (pilaf) and lamb fat (no translation required.)
Stark, cold, and with nothing for atmosphere beside a television showing Russian soap operas, this Burkharan outpost serves up some of the best-tasting pelmeni, kebabs, and lagman (beef noodle) soup in Queens. If you are into lamb, make sure to get the lamb rib kebabs and plenty of them. And bring your own liquor.
If you're a stranger to the decidedly unassimilated Bukharan restaurants of New York, you might be a little taken aback at this Uzbeki family restaurant, where diners eat sizzling lamb fat kebabs, brazenly light up cigarettes at the table, and revel noisily in rich, unctuous dishes like plov (pilaf, filled with chunks of, what else, lamb) and manti (lamb empanadas.) Interestingly one of the best things here, the Tashkent salad, has what is described as "boiled beef" in it, but it's something much better than that.
Another point of light in Flushing / Rego Park's constellation of Bukharan restaurants, Fortuna is a family place, filled with large Jewish clans dining happily on lamb fat, noodles, fragrant pilafs, and big pots of hot green tea. This is the food of Central Asia, and so naturally there a lot of kebabs. And being central Asian, what's on these kebabs is mostly lamb. If you don't like lamb, don't come here. If you do, it's a kind of paradise.