Food is one important aspect of travelling. While some argue that food is a cultural representation of the people, I am usually more puzzled when I stare at the menu and find some variation of food that seems similar to what I have back home, or at least in other parts of the world that I have been to.
Food in Russia is quite unique. Throughout out trip, we couldn’t really identify something that we have never tried or tasted before. All the food somehow resembled something other food that we had eaten before. Perhaps, this is because Russia is so huge and diverse, with influences from Northern and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Siberian, and Eastern Asia.
Things on menu to look out for and try when you are in Moscow
That said, Moscow does have it’s own share of local cuisine. If you are wondering what these are, here is a quick list of some Russian food to try, if you happen to see them in the menu.
- Russian Pelmeni (meat or vegetable dumplings) served with sour cream as dip
- Pirog (Russian pies) , with sweet or savory filling
- Borscht soup
- Okroshka soup (Russian cold soup), with a sour taste
- Sushki (small crunchy bread rings)
- Vinegret, salad made of boiled beets, potatoes, carrots, pickles, onions, sauerkraut, and sometimes peas or white beans
- Porridge, quite different and authentic. Served in whole grains instead of the typical rice we have in South-east asia, including barley, buckwheat, oat and millet
- Shashlyk, a string of meat served in skewer. Quite similar to kebab from central Asia.
With that in mind, here, I will introduce to you 5 restaurants worth trying if you are in Moscow. Websites are for your reference in case you would like to look at the menu. But do note that they are all in Russian and you will need to use Google Translate to work your way through them.
1. Belorusskaya Hata
- Opening hours: Daily, 12pm – 12am
- Address: Pokrovka Street, 9с1, Moskva, Russia, 101000
- Cost: Moderate-high
- Website: http://bel-hata.ru/
This was the most memorable restaurant for us.
This fine restaurant serves Belorussian food. Walking into the restaurant felt like walking into one of those medieval cottages, with log tables and benches. If you are a potato lover, this is a place you must definitely visit. Draniki, also known as potato pancakes, are a Belorussian speciality. Alcohol lovers should also visit the place as they serve a range of traditional drinks, from vodkas to moonshine. Non-bottled Kvass (honey drink with a slight tinge of alcohol) is not easily found in Moscow central, but can be found here as well.
- Homemade Hooch (42% alc) – Bootleg alcohol are always intriguing, served as shot.
- Moonshine Good Farmer Ale (40% alc) – Don’t be deceived by the ale, it is actually more of a hard liquor really. Served as shot.
- Vodkas (assorted flavor) – A range of assorted flavored vodkas. You can really taste the difference when you gulp it down. Linden Honey and Cranberry are two shots that you must try.
- Kvass – Supposedly a non-alcoholic drinks, and served in Eastern Europe to some parts of central Asia. Each have its own distinct taste and make. Something to try for those who do not like alcohol.
- Draniki, potato pancakes – Served with meat or fish, in a pot or hotplates. You must try at least one of the Draniki dishes when you are there. We tried the carp in cast iron, which was a mixture of fish, cheese and potato pancakes. The other Draniki to try would be the Manchanka, pork in mushroom sauce with potato pancakes.
- Beef baked with mushroom – Baked beef and mushrooms to fill the stomach, with cheese topping. Good to try if you have a large group for sharing.
- For deserts, we tried the Cake Male ideal. It was a little too dense for our liking. Deserts were generally alright. Nothing exceptionally outstanding.
2. Daily bread
- Opening hours: Daily, 7am – 11pm
- Address: 2-Y Smolenskiy Pereulok, 4/1, Moskva, Russia, 121099 (Have more than 1 outlet)
- Cost: Moderate
- Website: http://hlebnasushny.ru
Daily Bread is a breakfast cafe chain outlets that you can find in some parts of Moscow. They have only one outlet in Saint Petersburg. While operating more like a breakfast cafe, it does have on its menu some main courses. The coffee and cakes in Daily Bread are good. Below are some of the other items that we ordered that is worth trying.
- Hot Chocolate – Russians love their hot chocolate thick. Something very different from Singapore. The drink is literally melted chocolate. Served with a glass of hot water for you to wash down the thick molten as you enjoy the bitter sweet beverage.
- Coffee – The coffee are quite good here. Typical range of Flat white, Cappuccino and Mocha that you can try.
- Borsch soup – A generous serving of meat with soup. Good as something “before the road”.
- Bread bowl – A thick creamy chicken soup, goes well with the home-made bread. Though I think it was sour dough bread.
- Oatmeal – For those who likes something healthier, their hot oatmeals comes with a tinge of sweetness. Great for a good hearty morning meals
- Eggs Benedict – You can either try it with salmon or without. Usually eggs benedict can’t go wrong. However, portion is relatively small for this.
- Medovic – If you are a desert lover, you must definitely try the Medovic, a layered cake made of honey and condensed milk. It is mildly sweet and the texture is good.
3. Cafe Mu-Mu
- Opening hours: Daily, 8am – 11pm
- Address: Manege Sq, 1, стр. 2, Moskva, Russia, 125009 (Nearest to Red Square, but have more than 1 outlet)
- Cost: Moderate
- Website: https://www.cafemumu.ru
Throughout Moscow or Saint Petersburg, you will find restaurants where you will queue to take the food that you want and pay at the end, something like Marche in Singapore. Mu-Mu (pronounced as My-My?) is one of these restaurant. The good thing about this is you can choose what you want to try, and control how much you spend. The flow is simple, get a table, join the queue, go through the different food stations and take what you like, and end off at the payment counter. The good thing about this is there is one just around Red Square, and pricing is reasonable.
- Typical range of liquors, wine, beers and non-alcoholic drinks. Drink counters located separately from the food counters.
- See what you like – Too much to introduce, but if you are really keen, try their grilled duck, if it is available.
- Grilled Duck (if available) – The meat was very tender. Something for you to consider when you are there.
- Vinegret – So far, not easily found in most restaurants. Or perhaps we skipped the salad section. But you can find and try this in Mu-Mu.
- A wide range of deserts you can choose from. Just to note, there are red berries mixtures that are served in drink glasses. I think they are sauces for crepes and pancakes. It looks like a drink, but it is not as it is thick and sweet.
4. Trattoria Venezia
- Opening hours: Daily, 11am – 12am, Sat & Sun, 12pm – 12am
- Address: Pereulok Stoleshnikov, 9 строение 3, Moskva, Russia, 107031 (more than 1 outlet)
- Cost: Moderate – High
- Website: http://venezia.menu
Trattoria Venezia is an Italian restaurant right beside one of Tripadvisor’s recommended Pelmeni restaurant, Lepim I Varim. We originally wanted to try Lepim I Varim but went to the nearest nearby restaurant, Trattoria Venezia instead. This was after finding out that Lepim I Varim was a Pelmeni restaurant. Not that it wasn’t nice or anything, but because we wanted to have more than just dumplings for that night. It was a good stumble upon as Trattoria Venezia serve quite delicious Italian food in Russia.
Located near Bolshoi Theatre, you can consider walking over after a stroll along Tverskaya Sreet.
- Typical range of liquors, wine, beers and non-alcoholic drinks
- Pizza – Woodfire oven pizza, the crust is thin and crispy. Something definitely worth trying.
- Pasta – Like all Italian restaurants, the pasta is runny and creamy at the same time. You can taste the egg white in the sauce, and it is not overwhelmingly cheesy
- Risotto – Another must try in all Italian restaurant. The Risotto is well cooked and neither too dry not sticky.
- Tiramisu – Strangely, i used to think Tiramisu was from Japan, but it actually originated from Italy. The Tiramisu kind of melts in your mouth.
5. Eric the Red
- Opening hours: Daily, 12pm – 12am
- Address: Arbat St, 36/2, стр.1, Moskva, Russia, 119002
- Cost: Moderate – High
Eric the Red, located right in the centre of Arbat street is a good place for a drink and people watching. It is pretty crowded in the evenings, so to get a good seat, you might need to go slightly earlier. It serves a wide range of craft beers. The food is surprisingly decent for a place that is known more for its drinks.
- Wide range of craft beers – For those who love beer, you can look through the range of beer, mostly ales. Below are two that perhaps is worth trying for something different.
- Russian Imperial Stout – If you look at the menu, you will realize that they do not serve this in a pint. Reason being that the alcohol concentration may differ, and it might be too strong for a pint. Strong coffee taste for those who loves stout.
- Loosh Tropical fruit – A sour beer, not very common in Singapore. Sweet and sour, but taste like beer. Quite hard to make sense of it but worth a try.
- Pork in sweet and sour sauce – To my fellow Singaporeans, do not try this. For all others, you can try it if you have never tried sweet and sour sauce.
- Pork ribs – Not bad as a beer food. We ordered portions of fries to go with the beer as well.
- Cheesecake Eric – Quite a good cheesecake, it was not too dense. Something to try, especially if you are ordering wine.
So there you go, if you have got really no idea about what to eat, consider these 5 places when you are in Moscow.
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