The Republic of Georgia has some of the best food in Eurasia. Bridging the divide between Asian and Central Europe along the Silk Road and having been conquered over twenty times by the Ottoman Empire, Persia, the Mongols, and the USSR, The Republic of Georgia shares culinary influences from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Because of these influences and because food and jolly feasts are core to the national identity of Georgia’s 4 million people, Georgian cuisine is a “hidden gem” worth exploring.
Having spent a month dining along Rustaveli the famed thoroughfare in the Capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, you could say that I have certain nostalgia for Georgian food. Since returning to California, I have spent many years looking for such an authentic restaurant in the Greater LA area.
I have finally found such a place in Glendale, called TFK Tumanyan Khinkali Factory. They serve great tasting Georgian soup dumplings called khinkali, which so happens to be part of the restaurant’s namesake. They also have a wonderful selection of soft creamy cheeses and brinier blue cheese-like cheeses you might find in your morning breakfast in Georgia or alongside bread at dinner. I want to thank TFK for graciously inviting Calvin, Nam and I to a media tasting.
Khinkali is one of Georgia’s famed marquee dishes. Khinkali are much larger, juicier and meatier versions of Taiwanese soup dumplings that you might find at a place like Din Tai Fung (these dumplings were introduced to Georgia by the same Mongols that conquered China).
The way you eat a khinkali dumpling is quite similar to how you would eat a Taiwanese dumpling. You take one small bite from the side of the dumpling and then you suck the hot, flavorful steaming soup out. Then you eat the rest of the dumpling in one or two bites, leaving behind the doughy top knobs of the dumpling. Those knobs count for you and brag to others nearby how many khinkali you have eaten.
TFK Tumanyan Khinkali serves three different types of khinkali dumplings: minced peppered beef filled dumplings, mushroom filled dumplings, and baked cheese dumplings. They are all served to order.
The most common khinkali dumpling variety found in Georgia is filled with pipping hot soup broth and minced peppery beef. The hot broth ensures that the meat inside the dumplings is moist, seeped with broth peppery flavor, well-cooked and soft. TFK’s minced beef dumplings are exceptional because the dumpling’s skin is not too thick and because of the sharp black peppery taste in the soup broth and minced meat. That signature peppery taste is exactly the way I remember them in Georgia.
The mushroom filled dumplings are a treat as well. They are similar to the dumplings above, except filled with minced mushrooms and pepper instead of meat beef, which is great for vegetarians. Khinkali also offers baked cheese dumplings which are pictured below. They are quite a bit heavier than the beef dumplings and will leave you full after only a few, but so much of Georgian culture is defined by their love of cheese that these are definitely worth a look.
TFK also has other staples of Georgian food such as Kofta and other regional favorites from Azerbaijan and Armenia.
If you’re looking to try Georgian food for the first time or the 100th time, check out TFK in Glendale. The service is excellent and the servers are passionate about Georgian food. The servers will tell gladly walk you through how to eat a khinkali for first-timers or have a conversation with you about the finer nuances of Georgian cuisine.
TKF Tumanyan Khinkali Factory
113 N Maryland Ave
Glendale, CA 91206
Phone: (818) 649-1015
Monday – Thursday : 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Friday – Sunday : 11:00 am – 11:00 pm