157a Mederova Street, near the intersection with Baitik Baatura/Sovyetskaya
Meals for $5
This restaurant is easily the best place near the London School that serves regional food. Faiza offers both table service and takeout, which helps a lot given that there are often no vacant tables at 5 or 6pm on a weekday. While there is often a queue of 2-6 people at the takeout counter, the usual wait time is usually no more than 10 minutes. If you do get a table, the place is very well-decorated. Waitresses wear traditional Kyrgyz clothing against a backdrop of ornate carpets, rugs, and vases, and the place has a very relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere. The menu covers most of the regional staples: lagman (peppers, garlic and lamb/beef with noodles in a salty tomato sauce), gan-phan (lagman with rice instead of noodles), “plov pa-uzbekskii” (pilaf with carrots and lamb) manti (ground lamb dumplings), and borsch (a traditional Russian beet and cabbage soup with potatoes) for the Russophile palette. The only thing missing is besh barmak (a beef and onion dish with noodles like lagman, and traditionally eaten with all five fingers, hence the name “five fingers” in Kyrgyz), but the other items on the menu are some of the best dishes I’ve had this side of the Caspian.
As indicated above, most of the items on the menu are fairly cheap. When I went there with a group of students from the London School, I ordered the gan-phan with a cup of coffee, and the total price was in the region of 200 soms ($5). Most of the time, you can get a main course from the Faiza and buy a drink from one of the nearby stores and not spend more than $4.
When writing this review, I had to fight the temptation to go back to the Faiza and order a second serving of lagman or some plov pa-uzbekskii. If you’re looking to grab a quick lunch or dinner near the London School, but don’t want to go to the “gamburger” places near the Vefa Center, the Faiza is one of the best places in the area. This is a good place for groups or faculty-led tours if you don’t arrive during the rush hours. Try to get there before noon or at 5pm if you want a table.