Location: The Hyatt Regency, Tashkent
Welcome to Part II of my feature on the Hyatt Regency Tashkent – my new favourite hotel in Uzbekistan. It was hard to fit everything I want to say in just the one article, especially when they have so much to offer. I stressed in my last post (click here) about how wonderfully welcoming the staff were, despite it being a large international chain. The service that you get is so personal and far from commercial. A great example of this is my evening at Sette, the Hyatt Regency Tashkent’s Italian restaurant on the top floor of the hotel. It was there that my husband and I met Alisher, and after seeing my pretty large camera on the table, he asked if I would like to be shown around. He talked me through so much about what they do, and the pride in their work was so inspiring. In fact, it inspired me so much that I want to dedicate an entire post to the restaurants within the hotel, and the staff that work so hard to uphold the high standards.
You have probably seen on my Instagram account that eating when travelling can be somewhat of a challenge. For those that haven’t, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune illness late last year. To overcome the symptoms, I strictly gave up all meat, gluten and dairy. I now feel so much better, but I confess it can sometimes make eating overseas hard. With that in mind, this was never a problem at either of the two restaurants. For those that have the same, or similar, restrictions to me then you can put your mind at rest that you will not go hungry.
Starting with the first – Khiva restaurant. Based on the ground floor not too far away from the lobby, lies Khiva – focused on Uzbekistan cuisine. Khiva was our first taste of Central Asia, not just in the food we were about to eat, but also in the decor. Decorated in true Uzbek style, with those little touches like brightly coloured Uzbek ceramic plates adorning the walls or the small cotton plants on each table. It is also the location where a full local and international breakfast was served. The food was truly delicious and we got to try some of the Uzbek classics:
Plov: I had the veggie version. Typically simmered in a broth of meat and vegetables called zirvak until the liquid evaporates. Uzbek plov is traditionally cooked in a kazan, a large cast iron pot, over an open fire.
Manti: little steamed dumplings typically filled with lamb, beef, cabbage, potato or pumpkin, with fat often added to meat manti. Great with a side serving of sour cream.
Uzbek salad: the dish I ate twice a day everyday, and I’m now even making it in London. Really simple, just a lot of cucumber and tomatoes, covered with dill.
Samsa: pastries filled with various meats and onion
A variety of noodle-based dishes – they even have their own fresh noodle dogma making station
Now as you would imagine, being the top hotel in Tashkent means they are used to catering to frequent business travellers, both internationally as well as from Central Asia. I mentioned briefly in my previous article about these regional travellers want to try something different to local food. This brings me to the second restaurant – Sette. An Italian restaurant with some Uzbek flair. Think sophisticated cocktails and delicious food with fresh ingredients. I’m going to let the pictures of both do the talking.
What I absolutely love is that the restaurant has four open kitchens, so that you can see where your food is coming from. One of those is a little pizza kitchen, where a Pompeii oven lives for a proper Italian pizza.
Alisher, the manager here, walked me through their room for private events, which houses over 150 bottles of both local and foreign wine. It’s also where we discovered Bagizagan, our now favourite Uzbek wine. We moved over to the dessert station and sampled some of the strawberry and lemon sorbets, all of which were made in-house with fresh produce depending on what is in season. We learnt that lemons in Uzbekistan are actually orange – now researching them in London, and it seems they are higher priced than the ones we normally buy from a supermarket. The tour continued on to the four terraces, located on each corner of the top floor. Each offer a different view of Tashkent, but what I also really appreciated is the little herb garden that they are looking after! Again, Alisher took such pride in them using herbs that were grown at the hotel itself.
Once we had our dinner, we moved on to the adjoining bar next door to Sette for some tea and shisha. Warning: this is not a place for tea drinking… with prominent regional DJs, a full bar and a packed house, this definitely was more of a nightclub that seemed popular with the locals. We were just so jetlagged that green tea was all we could manage! I’m gonna throw in another little fact here – when at the bars or in the restaurants, notice how you will only see paper straws. A policy within the Hyatt brand is that no single use plastic straws are to be used!
I truly hope that you enjoyed my two-part series on the Hyatt Regency Tashkent and that it has helped you in some way if you were looking for that home away from home when in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. But like with any good hotel, it is the staff behind it that make it special. How they take pride in the work they do and want to provide the best possible service, their dedication to quality and the understanding of what hospitality is all about. I’ll leave you with one last fun fact – if you do have the pleasure of visiting Sette – look at the walls. See that piece of art made of corks? That was put together by the staff, who spent a long time collecting those corks are putting them together to form art. Look to the other side and you’ll see artwork of a fish made with the necks of glass bottles – again all the work of the staff. So inspiring!