Rego Park in Queens has welcomed many immigrants from the countries of the former Soviet Union in Central Asia. These countries (such as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, but usually not including Pakistan) end with the suffix “-stan.” Rego Park became nicknamed “Rego Parkistan” by at least 1999. A 2006 New York Times article used the nickname “Regostan,” but “Rego Parkistan” is the more familiar nickname.
Wikipedia: Rego Park
Rego Park is a diverse neighborhood in the central portion of the New York City borough of Queens. It is bordered to the north by Elmhurst and Corona, the east and south by Forest Hills and the west by Middle Village. The neighborhood is part of Queens Community Board 6.
A swath of farmland until the early 20th century, the area that came to be called Rego Park was once populated by Dutch & German farmers who sold their produce in Manhattan. The name “Rego Park” came from the REal GOod Construction Company, which began development of the area in the mid 1920’s, starting with 525 eight-room houses costing $8,000 each, stores were built in 1926 on Queens Boulevard and 63rd Drive and apartment buildings were built in 1927–28.
Like its neighbor, Forest Hills, Rego Park has long had a significant Jewish population most of which are from Bukharian, Iranian, and Russian ancestors, with a number of synagogues and kosher restaurants. Cartoonist Art Spiegelman grew up in Rego Park and made it the setting for significant scenes involving his aged father in Maus, his graphic novel about the Holocaust. Many Holocaust survivors, including Spiegelman and his parents, settled there after 1945. Even as many Jews have departed for further-flung suburbs over the years, they have been replaced by Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union, especially from Central Asia. Though these immigrants largely trace their ethnic roots back to Bukharian Jewish culture, the effect of life in the Soviet Union on the population has led Rego Park to have a Russian feel with many signs in Russian Cyrillic. Most of the Bukharian Jewish immigrants in the neighborhood come from what is now Uzbekistan, and it is possible to find excellent, authentic Uzbek food in many Rego Park restaurants. Immigrant populations from Albania, Israel, Romania, Iran, Colombia and South Korea are also well-represented.
The Eclectic Gourmet Guide to Greater New York City
by Jim Leff
Birmingham, AL: Menasha Ridge Press
Central Asian places are becoming almost common here in Rego Parkistan, but these two are the standouts.
Rego Park Open House Picks - September 10-11, 2005
September 9th, 2005
For comparison sake, here are a couple Rego Park open houses this weekend. Rego Park is on the edge of western Queens, 25+ minutes to midtown by subway. The neighborhood is diverse, but a large Central Asian population has won it the nickname Rego Parkistan.
New York (NY) Times
The Silk Road Leads to Queens
By JULIA MOSKIN
Published: January 18, 2006
For more than 2,000 years, Central Asia was home to the Bukharians, one of the most isolated Jewish communities in the world, who evolved a unique language, blending Farsi and Hebrew, that scholars call Judeo-Persian and locals call Bukhori. According to the Research Institute for New Americans, about 40,000 Bukharian Jews have settled in New York since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Bukharians established a thriving commercial strip along 108th Street in Rego Park, now called Bukharian Broadway, and opened several kosher restaurants that serve their traditional cooking, based on charcoal, lamb, rice, beets, potatoes, carrots and spices like cumin, paprika and chili.
Rego Park (now sometimes called Regostan) and Forest Hills became home to the Bukharians, most of whom observe an orthodox form of Judaism.
About.com Guide to Queens (John Roleke
Rego Parkistan Eats
Thursday January 19, 2006
Today’s NY Times profiles Bukharian cuisine and restaurants. The Bukharian are Jews from Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries. About 120,000 have left Central Asia in recent years, with many settling in Forest Hills and Rego Park (and Kew Gardens and Briarwood).
The NY Times refers to the neighborhood nickname as Regostan Park to reflect the Bukharian influx, but I’ve never heard that one. I have heard and enjoyed the sword-skewered kebabs and garlicky and parsley-topped fries of Rego Parkistan.
November 16, 2007
A Taste of ... Restaurant Samarkand
It would seem that the area around Rego Park and Forest Hills that we like to call Rego Parkistan could scarcely support another kosher kebab joint given how ubiquitous these restaurants specializing in Uzbeki cuisine have become. By our reckoning there at least seven of these spots proffering swordlike skewers laden with lamb, chicken and beef along with various Central Asian salads and meat pies. What’s more, with exception of a few that offer such items as lamb fat kebabs, these places often have menus that are practically identical. Nevertheless two weeks ago we noticed that yet another – Restaurant Samarkand – had cropped up.