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Kazakh Snacks in Almaty, Kazakhstan

The deli's frontage, overlooking the spectacular Panfilov Park.

about 7 hours ago
klyeoh in Middle East & Africa

Almaty, Kazakhstan - Russian/Ukrainian fare from Traktir Medved

Traktir Medved is easily recognized from its bear mascots upfront. Inside are spacious dining areas segmented by curtains. The rooms are decorated with Russian motifs and handicrafts, with a glass aquarium filled with Russian sturgeons up front.

about 7 hours ago
klyeoh in Middle East & Africa

Almaty, Kazakhstan - Russian/Ukrainian fare from Traktir Medved

Traktir Medved (or 'Bear Tavern') is one of those restaurants one kept hearing being mentioned whenever one brings up the subject of Russian or Ukrainian food in Almaty. At first impression, very impressive-looking interiors, replete with Russian decoratives, with wait-staff in traditional Russian embroidered clothing.

Our dinner started off with a Russian bread selection - we were served a daunting platter of carbs which reminded me that the Russians love smothering their breads with mayonnaise & butter or lard. The ones here came with black olives and cherry tomatoes skewered on top.

- Borscht: the classic Ukrainian beetroot soup, very well-done here. The tomatoes provided a sharp counter-balance to the heavy beef-mutton broth. A drizzle of 'smetana' (sour cream) added a richness to the soup, filled with shredded cabbage and topped with finely-chopped dill.

- Canapes: toasts topped with hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise and dill. This was served as an accompaniment to the borscht soup, but was a bit superlative: halved hard-boiled eggs smothered in a thick, rich mayonnaise-cheese sauce on heavily-buttered toast.

- Beef Stroganoff: A Russian classic of sauteed beef strips with onions and mushrooms, smothered in a rich, fatty sauce, thickened with 'smetana' sour cream. Well-executed version, although one had to order the traditional rice accompaniment separately. The finely-chopped cabbage slaw that came with it had an overpowering horseradish dressing which I didn't quite take to.

- Grilled pork chop with 'muzhdei' (garlic sauce): perfectly-grilled pork chop, with a lovely texture. The garlic sauce was surprisingly more astringent than expected.

Dessert: Blinchiki with whipped cream and cranberries - this was fine, but not something I'd order again. As for the coffee-based beverages - do *not* order: the standards here were atrocious.

Very good, attentive service, but very little English is spoken. Would greatly help to have a Russian speaker.

Address
========
Traktir Medved
140 Kabanbai Batir Street
Almaty 050012
Kazakhstan
Tel: +7 727 267 51 30

about 7 hours ago
klyeoh in Middle East & Africa

Kazakh Snacks in Almaty, Kazakhstan

These local hot snacks from a small but well-stocked delicatessen at Kazybek bi Str. No. 22, Almaty 050010, are pretty interesting - at least to me who's new to Central Asian foods. Pretty significant Russian influences on the local Kazakh cuisine:

1. Pirozhki with minced mutton-beef. Pork versions are rarer, though not impossible to obtain in Muslim-majority Kazakhstan. Almaty, being the largest city (approx. 2.5 million in metropolitcan Almaty and its surrounding environs) offer more dining choices than Astana or other smaller cities in the country. The version I got today had pretty tasty filling, though a bread-like outer shell was thicker than I'd have liked.

2. Pirozhki with chicken: this version was much tastier, with the finely-chopped chicken and onion filling pretty well-seasoned, though quite greasy (Kazakhs love their fat).

3. Boortsog: the local fried dough, this one came with mashed potato filling. It lacked the subtle flavours of the one I got from Sultan's, a popular restaurant offering a buffet lunch for KZT2000 (US$11) offering a wide-ranging choice of local dishes which I'll cover in another thread.

about 13 hours ago
klyeoh in Middle East & Africa

THAI IN PARIS

A bit of controversy involving Yank Sing recently, as discussed on the SF Bay Area board:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/996292

about 17 hours ago
klyeoh in France

Almaty, Kazakhstan - Steak (including horse-meat) dinner at Line Brew Mix

Line Brew in Astana provides some of the best steaks in the city, bar none. Part of an upmarket chain owned by a well-known socialite-lawyer, Line Brew Mix consisted of two main dining sections: a Cantonese-Sichuanese section helmed by a Singaporean chef, and an American-style steakhouse which also offers local
horse-steaks besides beef, and Russian staples.

Four of us at dinner last night:

Appetisers
- Arugula salad with dried duck-meat, ricotta and pineapples
- Horse-meat fillet salad with balsamic dressing
- Mozzarella and tomato salad
- Pelmeni dumplings with mutton-horse filling, served with sour-cream

Mains
- Filet Mignon steak, accompanied by roasted bone marrow with sea salt
- T-bone steak
- Horse-meat steak
- Beef Stroganoff

Overall, superb meats done very well, with fresh, top-grade ingredients. Service was top-notch and the live music (very good jazz singer) was icing on the cake. We skipped dessert as the two ladies in our dinner party would rather have an after-dinner smoke of the shisha - very popular here amongthe Kazakhs.

Address
========
Line Brew Mix
75, Zhambyl Street
Almaty 050000
Kazakhstan
Tel: +7(727)2723810/+7(727)2723812

about 18 hours ago
klyeoh in Middle East & Africa

Crystal Jade, Embarcadero Center, San Francisco.

Some folks will dip the steamed or fried "man tou" buns into the sauce. I'm one of the *very* few Singaporeans who actually spoon the sauce over my rice - as I thought they go very well together. Most of the time, however, the excess sauce is just left on the serving platter - I don't know why, but the very tasty, eggy, crab-flavoured sauce would usually be thrown out.

THAI IN PARIS

This may sound corny, but if I ever need to dine at a Chinese restaurant in Europe (which I'd only do as a last resort - seeing that I'm from Singapore), I'll just order a standard fried rice and sweet-and-sour pork - that's it. My rationale: those are dishes that "everyone" would most likely order if they step into a Chinese restaurant (whether it's in Ireland, Spain, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary or anywhere on the continent for that matter), so the chefs "should" logically do those dishes best through sheer practice :-D

P.S. - And for the record, I *did* order those two dishes in Chinese restaurants in Ireland, Spain, Germany, Slovakia and Hungary :-D

BTW, most Chinese restaurants in Paris used to be run by ethnic Chinese from Indochina, and they are of the Chiuchow/Chaozhou stock. I used to be able to converse with restaurateurs in Paris Chinatown in their Chaozhou dialect (*not* Mandarin).

Not sure about now, as Mainland Chinese (Fujianese, and those from Zhejiang, Jiangsu, etc.) are flooding the Chinatowns of the world, changing the demographics everywhere, from San Francisco to New York and London.

1 day ago
klyeoh in France

THAI IN PARIS

Actually, the menu showed that Tamarind tries to offer food from *every* corner of Thailand - Isaan dishes ('som tam', 'yam neau'), Muslim-inflected Southern Thai curries like the Mussaman and Panaeng.

My guess is, you won't go wrong if you go for dishes are most often ordered by people if they opt for Thai food: tom yum goong, kaeng kaew wan kai (Thai green chicken curry), red curry with beef or duck. Most Thai chefs put more effort into these dishes as they are the ones most often ordered, and how their restaurant will be bench-marked against others.

1 day ago
klyeoh in France

What type of cuisine do you NOT like?

Same here. I like all cuisines. If I need to name one that I least like, that would be Korean: it's much too assertive for me: the chillis coupled with the fermentation and the vinegarish flavours, all at the same time.

1 day ago
klyeoh in General Topics

What type of cuisine do you NOT like?

He/she probably meant Chinese-American food. Many Chinese (from outside the US) can't stand Chinese-American food either.

1 day ago
klyeoh in General Topics

What type of cuisine do you NOT like?

I love German food, and *especially* Swabian food to bits!!

[Manchester, city centre] Southern 11

Oh wow, your Southern BBQ meal sounded sooooo good!

P.S. - Inestimably better than the horse-meat I'm having on a daily basis here in Kazakhstan at the moment.

1 day ago
klyeoh in U.K./Ireland

Crystal Jade, Embarcadero Center, San Francisco.

Just a quick check, Kirk_T - was the amount of sauce on your Singapore chilli crab something like this? This one's from No Signboard Restaurant, one of the top spots for chilli crabs in Singapore. That's the amount of sauce we Singaporeans would expect in our chilli crabs :-D

Chilli crab sauce is also supposed to be more sweet-sour (tomato-ey) with a bit of chillis to give it a slight kick.

THAI IN PARIS

RandyB - actually, Phetchaburi is *not* in Northern Thailand, but is one of the Central provinces and, in fact, almost to the south of the country. Phetchaburi cuisine is quite close to Bangkok's, i.e. most of the Thai staples which one expects, like tom yum, green curry, etc.

If it had been Northern Thai, the best-known regional specialties would include the hyper-spicy jungle curry ('kaeng pa'), 'larb Lanna' (a minced pork/chicken with salad dish), and 'yam som-o' (pomelo salad).

The most popular Central Thai dishes would include: 'kaeng kaew wan' (green curry, either with chicken, pork or beef), 'hor mok pla' (steamed, spicy fish mousse), 'mieng kham' (dried shrimps, peanuts, chopped vegetables served with raw salad wrap), 'pad kaprao'(stir-fried stir-fried beef/pork/chicken with Thai basil, red chillis and soysauce), 'tom kha kai' (chicken in a coconut-milk-flavoured soup), 'tod man pla'/tod man koong' (fish/prawn cakes) and 'kaeng phet' (red curry - you can opt for chicken or beef).

2 days ago
klyeoh in France

Wonderful "not fancy" asian places in London ?

Thanks, FeastFinder. Do report back what you think of Haji Nanna's.

Nov 25, 2014
klyeoh in U.K./Ireland

Wonderful "not fancy" asian places in London ?

Maybe it was a typo and JFores meant Haji Nanna Biryani at Whitechapel:
http://www.nannabiryani.co.uk/

Photo/address on the Evening Standard:
http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/ba...

Nov 25, 2014
klyeoh in U.K./Ireland

What are the cuisines that you know little about but want to try?

Ukrainian and Uzbek cuisines.

I'm currently visiting Kazakhstan and am enjoying some pretty exotic local Kazakh food (horse-meat notwithstanding) so far.

Due to its proximity to Ukraine and Uzbekistan, and their traditional close ties, being former Soviet socialist republics, Ukraine/Uzbek food is also widely available in Kazakhstan. I'm going to take the opportunity the next couple of weeks to suss out some Ukrainian & Uzbek restaurants here.

Nov 25, 2014
klyeoh in General Topics

Singapore - Peranakan Flavours at The Ardennes Hotel

Glad you enjoyed this place, akated. I agree - the food's great, but the location's bad, *real* bad. Firstly, you can virtually discount walk-in customers since its location is nowhere near any pedestrian traffic area. Parking is also a big challenge there.

One of the chefs, Ben Teo, did mention the other time to us that they're probably looking for another location. He was formerly cooking at Betel Box @ Joo Chiat.

I think, in the right place & perhaps with an updated look, this place can certainly do well. Look at Violet Oon's Kitchen in Bukit Timah - so-so food at hugely inflated prices, and yet it can pack in the crowds. Imagine what Peranakan Flavours can be like with the right image make-over.

Nov 24, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Taipei - Yo Sushi or Jiang Le?

Not much worse than Benihana.
Yo! Sushi does for British-style sushi in the UK what Benihana does for American-style teppanyaki in the US - very much positioned for local consumption. Authenticity not required.

Nov 24, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Taipei - Yo Sushi or Jiang Le?

Same here - this is the definitive Yo! Sushi for me if someone's to mention the name. They're pretty Anglo-centric though.

Nov 24, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Chak Chak - the traditional Central Asian dessert

We had this during afternoon tea in my company's Kazakhstan office today - it's called "Chak Chak", a traditional Central Asian dessert. My Kazakh colleagues loved it, our visiting Uzbek, Tajik and Russian colleagues also loved it, and said that it is a childhood favourite of theirs. The Russians called it a Tartar dessert back in Russia.

This is also a common sweet pastry in China & South-east Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, etc.) where the Chinese call it "Sak Kei Ma" - it was introduced to China by the Manchus, and its name was derived from the Manchu word for "to cut".

Nov 24, 2014
klyeoh in Middle East & Africa

First food thought this morning

I'm currently in Kazakhstan, so woke up thinking of having horse-meat for breakfast this morning.

No problem getting that in my hotel breakfast buffet - Kazakhs are equine-mad, in a gustatory sense.

Nov 24, 2014
klyeoh in General Topics

Kuala Lumpur - Top Malay-style Nasi Lemak vendors

LOL! Just remember that nasi lemak is very cholesterol-rich, I try to restrict my intake to once a month at the most.

Nov 23, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Kroepoek... or why is "Chinese" food different in various countries?

The oldest Chinese restsaurant in Cologne, Tchang, was Taiwanese-owned when I was there a few years ago. But I noticed many Mainland Chinese in German cities (in fact, *everywehre* in Europe) these days.

Nov 23, 2014
klyeoh in General Topics

No board for Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan?

Melanie - my first post on dining out in Almaty. Boiled horsemeat and horse sausages, I'm beginning to understand why food posts on Kazakh/Uzbek cuisine is relatively rare:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/996708

Two more weeks to go, so am relying on my Kazakh and Uzbek colleagues to point me in the right directions.

Nov 23, 2014
klyeoh in Site Talk

Almaty, Kazakhstan - Traditional Kazakh meal at Kishlak

Dining out in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan must be so rare on Chowhound that the CH moderators have directed me to post on the Middle East & Africa board. Anyhoo, here goes - my first meal in Almaty. My hotel concierge highly-recommended Kishlak, often rated one of the top 10 restaurants in Almaty.

Pretty atmospheric restaurant - traditional decor, and wait-staff in Kazakh costumes. What I opted for this evening:

- "Beshbarmak", a traditional Kazakh dish which consisted of boiled "kazy" (horse-meat sausage), "zhaya" (rump of horse), flat sheets of pasta and potatoes, with an onion-dill dressing. It's accompanied by a "shorpo" (mutton broth). The "beshbarmak" was served in a large, traditional Kazakh bowl called "kese". Very tasty indeed, I could have this every day and not tire of it.

- "Manti" - a boiled pasta dumpling, with minced mutton, squash and onion filling, flavoured with black pepper. Very good rendition here.

Address
========
Kishlak
540 Seifulina Street
Almaty, Kazakhstan
Tel: +7 7272615601

Kroepoek... or why is "Chinese" food different in various countries?

Probably the first Chinese restaurant owners in Germany were Chinese-Indonesians (by way of Holland), followed by non-Indonesian Chinese in the subsequent decades. By then, the expectations of German diners was to have kroepoek when they go to a Chinese restaurant - that's why this item was maintained till today.

Having fish/prawn or any other type of crackers as part of a meal is very common in Indonesia.

The spelling of the word provides a hint: kroepoek is spelt krupuk in Indonesia after 1947. The word is not used anywhere else outside Indonesia. In Malaysia, the item would be called keropok.

Nov 22, 2014
klyeoh in General Topics

Kuala Lumpur - Top Malay-style Nasi Lemak vendors

These top Malay nasi lemak vendors were rated by Malaysia's Fried Chillies food network back in 2013 as the best in the Klang Valley. I tried 9 of the Top 10-rated ones. I'm surprised by the differences between the top nasi lemak vendors - each of them will have their own set of loyal customers: some will prefer their nasi lemak very moist, some prefer rice grains which will fall apart, not sticking together. Some want to drench their nasi lemak in curry gravy, whilst others only prefer some chilli paste at the side. Whichever your preference, you will be able to find one top nasi lemak vendor who will offer a product that suits you.

Nov 22, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Penang - Ali Nasi Lemak at Beach Street

You're referring to Nyonya-style nasi lemak, with its emphasis on spicy sambal belacan to perk up the coconut milk-enriched rice.

I actually have a list of top Malay nasi lemak vendors, but not in Penang - these ones are all in Kuala Lumpur: took me quite a while to try them since they are spread all over KL/Klang Valley - I shall post those on a new thread.

Nov 22, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia