A look at Jibek Jolu / Kyrgyzstani food

Straight from the site.

Straight from the site.



Time to change more things / give a warning.  My wife is going to business school now in Philadelphia, so I’ll be spending nine straight days there each month.  On top of that, paying for two rents and a flight every month is just sliiiiiightly more expensive than paying one rent and no flights, so my budget is a bit more limited.  I’ll still be doing blog restaurants, but there might be a gap here and there.  Obviously things have changed a decent amount recently, but alas, I’m throwing another on.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  (As opposed to those other times of change, when, y’know, I didn’t really warn you.)

Jibek Jolu!  This one is fun.  It’s Kyrgyzstani, and it’s set up nicely.  The restaurant is well-kept, with central Asian decor on the walls, including rugs and art, and Kyrgyzstani pop music on the radio and Kyrgyzstani shows on the television.  (At least I’m guessing they’re Kyrgyzstani, though they could be Russian and I wouldn’t have the slightest clue.)

Analysis time.

Where is it? 5047 N. Lincoln, in Lincoln Square/Ravenswood.  A little bit north of the McDonald’s.  Side note: I’ve been going to a lot of places up north lately, and that’s been intentional/lazy of me.  I’ll be moving into the Logan Square-ish area in a couple of months, and at that point I can focus more on the southern restaurants in my list.

Is there a website?  Yes.  Check it out -- there’s good info there.  http://jibekjolu.us/

A new experience (have folks heard of it and eaten it before?): 5 out of 5

- Come on.  This was one of the inspirations on how many impressively unique restaurants existed in Chicago.  If I asked ten people if they’ve had Kyrgyzstani food before, roughly three of them would say no, six of them would ask what the hell Kyrgyzstani means, and one person would incorrectly mention something about Borat.

What “common” cuisine comes closest? Russian?  That’s not really common… Polish?

- It’s a central Asian cuisine with influences from the surrounding areas.  Jibek Jolu means “the silk road”, which isn’t surprising -- the silk road trade was right in the region.  Kyrgyzstani cuisine incorporates elements from all of the trading countries involved: Russia, China, Turkey, Afghanistan, India, and more.

Spicy: 3 out of 5

- So I got some bread from the waitress and noticed a jar with some liquid red stuff in it.  I put a dollop on my bread and put the bread in my mouth.  As I finished doing this the waitress came over and said “Be careful, it’s very spicy”.  Wouldn’t you know, she was right.  It was a red pepper-based sauce, and made my mouth hot.  The base food I had wasn’t inherently spicy, but the option to heat things up is obviously there.

Vegetarian/vegan/gluten-friendly: 2 out of 5

- The true cuisine is probably not very vegetarian-friendly.  The menu (and website) mention that meat is the primary ingredient, which is not surprising given that it’s a central Asian cuisine.  However the folks at Jibek Jolu made mention on the menu that there are vegetarian options from which to choose, and some dishes can be made vegetarian.  Which is nice -- I wish I took my wife here before we moved her to Philadelphia.  Not a lot of dairy, so vegan might not be much harder than vegetarian, and I bet you could get away with a gluten-free meal.  The menu also mentioned that the meat is Halal and organic, so there’s a bonus.

Variety: 3.5 out of 5

- I counted 5 appetizers, 5 salads, 6 soups, 12 entrees, 3 seasonal specials, 2 weekday specials, and 3 desserts.  All in all a pretty good list.  The ingredient bases definitely have some things in common, but there’s still some good variety in the style of the meals.

How big is the restaurant?  I counted 42 seats, mostly in groupings of 2, 4, or 6.

What could Ulysses S. Grant get me?  Probably three dinners.  Appetizers and soups were single digits and entrees were between $7 and $13.  It’s a cheap place, and the food is a great value.

What’s up with booze?

- I’m pretty confident that alcohol is not sold at the restaurant, and I don’t believe you can BYOB either.  I’m not positive on the last one, but I didn’t find any BYOB evidence on the website.

Did I get free stuff?

- Does the bread count?

Anything else about the place?

- The back of the menu gave me a lot of good stuff here.  I mentioned the silk road part, and that all came from the back.  Other fun stuff includes that the food is all made from scratch (hand-pulled noodles, freshly baked bread, etc.) and that it’s the first and only Kyrgyzstani restaurant in Chicago.

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