Sunday, July 6, 2008

Russian Fare in Beijing

I've been in Beijing for over a year but haven't tried the food of China's biggest neighbour, Russia until last night.

A friend's roommate who is Russian recommended a place called White Nights near the Russian embassy so we had to check it out.

It's about a block away from Dongzhimen, going west one block then north. The stroll there is pleasant, with trees lining the boulevards.

Outside the restaurant is a raised patio area where some diners chose to eat outside.

But we were seated inside, where there are tables in the main dining area, a small room off to the side and then in the basement.

We were seated in the small room, which had a Russian couple smoking up a storm who were later joined by their teenaged children.

The menu has the requisite Russian dishes, but also some Chinese ones. In a vote of confidence in the restaurant, the Russian table next to us ordered almost all Chinese food.

But we opted to stay true to the culinary offerings and I tried borscht soup (hot) and roasted beef. My friend had salmon cooked in a cream sauce and potato pancakes.

My soup came and it was good with a small dollop of cream. But then an interesting dish arrived at our table. It turned out to be diced eggplant braised with peppers. We weren't quite sure what it was and started eating it and it was delicious.

The table next to us complained to the staff that that was their dish. A waiter was about to come and take it away from us, but a waitress behind him, dressed in a baby blue European serving dress complete with white apron, admonished him, saying we already started eating it so he couldn't take it away.

In the end a waiter came by to tell us the dish would be added onto our bill and eventually the Russian family got their eggplant.

My friend reported the salmon in an alfredo sauce was great, while my roasted beef consisted of two layers of round chunks of meat and chopped raw garlic in the middle, and topped with a creamy sauce that was oven baked that I scraped away. Each of our dishes had a small cucumber salad and some mashed potatoes with a generous mixture of butter.

The potato pancakes were a bit dull, but my friend says the were cooked well as they can easily be burnt, and these weren't.

In the end the bill came to 105RMB with a glass of plum juice.

I heard the baked fish is very good at this place and will have to try it next time. It's a pity the service is a bit scatter-brained.

White Nights
No. A13 Beizhong Street
Dongzhimennei Avenue

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