We’re riding the B and V from Coney Island all the way to Forest Hills, jumping off frequently to rave about our favorite restaurants along the way.
As the V Line reaches its terminus along the vast, terrifying stretch of Queens Boulevard that dominates Rego Park, we find it poetically pleasing that it resumes the Russian atmosphere of its starting point in Brighton Beach. Our second favorite Uzbek kebab restaurant, Cheburechnaya, is at 63rd Drive, but our favorite, Café Arzu, is at 67th Avenue.
Arzu doesn’t look like much when you go into it. The space is narrow, the walls unadorned. The menu is mostly in Russian. But what a party the place has in store if you hit it at the right time! Bowls of fried pelmeni (Siberian dumplings) are so good you could fill up on them alone, but then you’d miss the amazingly nourishing lagman (beef noodle soup) and, of course, the kebabs that are the restaurant’s reason for being. The lamb ones are intense, rural, and rugged, possessed of a gamey lamb flavor that is miles from the carefully Frenched chops you get in Manhattan restaurants. If you go late, you may be treated to an impromptu sing-along or even, as we once observed, a mock knife fight with kebabs. And then you’re back on the train, underneath Queens and nearing the end of our journey.