Flushing Kebabs Crawl Indoors

 

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The imperially long and strange-looking street carts that vend lamb and chicken kebabs dusted with Asian cumin and chile pepper and flamed over charcoal have become a fixture of Flushing in the last three years. They represent the second incursion into the city of food from Xinjiang, the remote far western province of China that lies along the Silk Road, across the border from Kazakhstan, the land of Borat. (The first incursion was a pair of Xinjiang restaurants in Brighton Beach.) These kebabs are similar, though not so opulent, as the ones found at Uzbekistani and Tajikistani restaurants in Brooklyn and Queens. But what they lack in size, they make up for in pungent salty flavor.

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At the newly opened Roosevelt Food Court in Flushing, these delicious kebabs have moved out of the cold and into a hawker stall for the first time, while miraculously retaining their $1 price tag. Eyili Kabab King (Stall B1), offers not only the expected beef and chicken kebabs, but others made of lamb liver and "ox" liver (it's just beef), as well. Once again, you must ask for "spice" in order to get the all-important rubbing of cumin and chile. The menu rounds itself out with chai tea, baked or fried samsa (lamb turnovers etymologically related to Indian samosas), and pilaf - the dish called "plov" in Uzbeki joints, a casserole of mutton and rice sweetened with carrots. (Somewhat comically, the Xinjiang places in Brighton Beach called it "fried rice.") Some days, there may be shorba and homemade noodles, too, depending on the ambition of the cooks. In the picture, note the tossed iceberg lettuce salad that has wormed its way onto the pilaf plate. That's pure Americana! 135-28 Roosevelt Avenue, Flushing, Queens, no phone.

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