The Ukraine has been very present in the daily news due to the civil unrest with the presiding government. Ukraine was a part of the USSR, but became a separate country when the old Soviet Union was broken up following the Perestroika of 1986. You may have not even been born, but to experience the taste of Ukrainian cuisine you can find it at the Ukrainian Village Restaurant located in the downtown west end. This is a modest and homey place filled with Ukrainian kitsch, wooden chairs and tables.
Ukrainian Village Restaurant has been in the same location for the past fifteen years. About 18 months ago two new owners took over and continued the Ukrainian cuisine. One of the owners, Irina Bikulova, is the chef. One owner is from Russia and the other from the Ukraine, so you will be guaranteed an authentic homemade meal.
Ukrainian cuisine served here is basically comfort food. Most of us think of Perogy (dumplings) and Cabbage Rolls (cabbage leaves rolled with rice filling and other ingredients) as their typical food and you are indeed correct. These two dishes are their signature specialties. There are other flavourful dishes that will provide many choices for any diners. The food is not spicy and the flavours are pretty familiar. You will discover very quickly that this style of cuisine is very filling.
Ukrainian food is diverse with a rich history given its geographical position. Other well known dishes are Borshch (vegetable soup made with a variety of ingredients), Yushka (fish soup), Olivye (salad) a number of entrées. Many of these dishes are hard to pronounce and many won’t be found at this restaurant given they are focused on the usual favourites of North American diners.
First up was trying the Ukrainian Ice Tea. They would not provide the ingredients except to state that the red colour of the ice tea was a result of the local red wine. Light and fruity with a unique taste that is worthy of ordering again.
Next up was an appetizer of Herring. These are pickled herring that come with sour cream. The herring wraps around a dill pickle and you can cut up onion for each forkful of the slippery fish. Tart taste, but great texture with a lengthy after taste. I really enjoyed the flavours, but this can be an acquired taste.
OK, you have to order the Perogy. This dish is as Ukrainian as you can get. At the Ukrainian Village Restaurant you can order them “fried” for an additional $2. Otherwise, the perogy will be boiled. Frankly, it is a matter of personal taste. These perogy (potato and cheese filling) are very flavourful with perfect consistency. The perogy can be dipped with the sour cream. In addition, this plate comes with Ukrainian Sausage (Kielbasa) and a wickedly hot mustard that really enhances the taste of the smoked sausage. This is a great order for two foods that match well.
For those eaters that are looking for a more comprehensive sampling, then order the Ukrainian Dinner. Of course, the sour cream and hot mustard arrive on the plate. This dish has a salad and Cabbage Rolls. Lots of food! These cabbage rolls have spinach and carrot stuffed inside with the rice. Six perogy, six cuts of Ukrainian sausage and two large cabbage rolls. Cabbage rolls were good, but a little dry.
Same as above dish only these perogy come with meat filling. A great offer is you can specify the filling you want in your perogy.
A huge hit were the Siberian Pelmeny. You receive 24 pelmeni in the deep bowl and they will be more than enough food. Meat filled dumplings that are half pork and half beef balls. Very juicy with huge flavour hit. Comparable to the Chinese soup filled dumplings for an injection of pleasure. Major difference the Russian version is meat filled. Come with sour cream and a red sauce that is spicy hot and a great complement if you want to kick the taste up a notch.
For dessert, we ordered the Russian Cake “Napolean”. Layers of puff pastry with custard and cream between each layer. Multi-layered as you can see, but very difficult to slice through. The custard taste stood out, but the cake was too dry and not very sweet.
You can make reservations especially for larger groups. They do a bustling take-out business. Bring a healthy appetite. Prices are not cheap. The menu has pictures of most dishes. This is the only Ukrainian restaurant in Vancouver. Metered parking on the street.
Ukrainian Village Restaurant
815 Denman Street (near Robson)
Monday 5 pm to 10 pm
Tuesday to Sunday 12 pm to 10 pm
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