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Miss K. and I embarked on a Russian lunch escapade at Buyan, named after a mythical Russian island in one local fairytale. To maximize the variety, we ordered different items from the 3-course lunch($25) menu. The unique Russian black rye bread served with velvety butter that resembled mini billiard balls were signs of a good meal ahead.
The first appetizer was Kharcho, a spicy Georgian lamb soup filled with rice grains and chunks of lamb. I usually do not expect much spiciness from western food but this soup had quite a robust peppery flavor
The 2nd appetizer was a classic Russian bite, Pelmeni (cold dumplings stuffed with mixed meat fillings). The unleavened dough skin made with just flour and water was indeed thick and chewy. However, the overall taste surpassed its dull presentation as the filling had a pleasant savoury taste without any strange odour.
I thought the portion of the main course-Blinis with creamy chicken filling was only sufficient for kids. But unexpectedly, these traditional Russian pancakes had a sweet allure that matched perfectly with the savoury mushroom dip. The sauce was so delicious that we requested for more
The Buckwheat kasha with Mushroom and Onion surprised us with its fine grainy texture. It tasted like a healthier version of fried rice as it is less greasy but yet extremely aromatic. Kasha generally means buckwheat but it can include cereal, mill, wheat,barley and oats.
There was only one option for the dessert-Milk Kissel, a mixed of milk and raspberry jelly. Though this was not fanciful western-style plated dessert, I like its gloopy texture and the fact that it was not too rich or sweet.
Fortunately, the restaurant agreed to change one of the set dessert to a dessert platter without any additional charge. Though the Milk Kissel made its appearance again, there were new faces such as the Napolean (vanilla Millefeuille with fresh berries) and the Honey Cake. Both were excellent in their own arena; especially the Honey Cake which is more similar to a crunchy Baklava than a cake.
Conclusion: The $25-lunch menu may vary with the $35-dinner menu but the quality and portion of the food are similar. This was my first try at Russian cuisine, thus I had no previous reference to compare with. But we enjoyed the meal as it is easy to get used to the taste of Russian food (no particular exotique ingredients like bear paws, etc...). I would definitely return to try not the dinner, but the lunch deals at SGW, especially when there are more interesting cuisine worth trying.
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