Russian food is not something that’s widely available here. In fact, I’ve never tried much of Russian cuisine except for the well-known beef stroganoff and chicken kiev but merely eating those 2 dishes does not qualify one to say that one has tried Russian cuisine. It’s akin to declaring that you have eaten Chinese food when you’ve only had sweet-sour pork and fried wantan.
So when an invitation came my way recently to check out a restaurant serving Russian food, I did not hesitate to say “yes”! Vladimir’s Place in Imbi is one of the very few such restaurants here. The restaurant is helmed by Chef Vladimir Anuchin and assisted by Chef Dmytro Kuba.
Housed in a building by itself, the restaurant spots a rather grandiose decor. Most striking is the pair of elephant tusks in the centre of the room, the ornate chandeliers casting a warm yellow hue on them. The ceilings have intricate cornices and heavy dark red drapes along the walls complete the flamboyant picture.
Cold Boiled Pork (RM11), Pickles (RM13) and Pork Lard (RM10) came to our table first to whet the appetite. After boiling, the pork was baked and chilled before being served. Thank goodness the pork lard was not just pure lard but had a layer of lean meat incorporated. Very interesting taste-wise, those thin slices were like cold bacon with a smokey nuance.
More appetizers came our way in the form of Chef Salted Salmon (RM15.50) and Pancakes with red caviar (RM16). Nothing very exciting there as the “red caviar” were actually salmon roe.
Their salads really brightened up our palates and the table, especially the pretty Beetroot Russian Salad (RM16.50) and I love the presentation of their Olivier with Chicken (RM11) and the quaintly-named “Herrings under a Fur Coat”.
Russians love their soups and of course the most well-known one is their borsch. A wholesome nourishing broth, their Classic Russian Borsch (RM16) has a dollop of sour cream dunked in for good measure to give it that extra tart kick. It’s a soup that’s brimming with vegetables and strips of smokey ham and beef.
Solyanka (RM17) is a thick spicy and sour soup, a staple in Russian and Ukrainian cuisines. Cubes of beef and ham were boiled with onions, tomatoes, olives, capers, parsley, dill and pickled cucumber for that unmistakable sourish punch. It’s a hearty, full-bodied broth and I prefer this to the borsch.
My favourite is the Beef Stroganoff (RM28) with a delicious forest mushroom sauce and potatoes a la Pushkin. Thick and creamy, the sauce was lip-smackingly good, its flavours well balanced with the addition of sour cream in it. I’d definitely order this again.
Pork Steak with BBQ Sauce (RM26) – no surprises here, just good old porcine flavours from the excellent shoulder loin.
Chicken Kiev (RM26) served with tender mashed potatoes is something not to be missed. As its name suggests an Ukrainian origin, nevertheless Chicken Kiev is always associated with Russian cuisine. Once the breaded deep-fried boneless chicken was cut, aromatic melted garlic butter oozed out onto the creamy mash. Eaten together with the delicious mash, it’s no surprise that this is a popular item to order in Vladimir’s.
Other mains to check out are the Beef Cutlets with Mashed Pumpkin and truffle oil (RM28) and Grilled Seabass with vegetables poached in wine (RM27.50)
When a bowl of pale-looking Dumplings (RM18) sprinkled with chives was served, it didn’t look very appetizing to me. However, biting through the slightly-chewy skin, the filling of mashed potato was actually pretty tasty. Smear some sour cream onto the dumplings and they disappeared quickly.
The desserts in Vladimir’s were on the average side – they didn’t really sparkle but were adequate to end the meal on a sweet note.
Apple Charlotte with Vanilla Ice-cream (RM12.50)
Cheesecake with sour cream (RM12.50)
36 Jalan Inai
Off Jalan Imbi
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Opens 11am to 11pm Tuesday-Sunday