I'm gonna tell you a secret: I tend to succumb to the charm of neon signs. Located in a small alley in the Central - Mid-Level Escalator vicinity, Ivan the Kozak has been serving a wide array of Russian and Ukrainian dishes since 2001. Well, despite the suggestive reference, I didn't drink at all when I first visited the restaurant haha...
Forget about the more common items such as borsch (Ukrainian beetroot soup) and blini (Russian style thin pancake), but to name a few examples. I tried to order those items which I wasn't familiar with.
Riba Pod Marinadom HK$68.00 (~S$11.30)
The traditional Russian appetiser of white fish cooked in tomato sauce made a good start; actually, it reminded me of the sweet and sour fish mom would cook for me at home. The fish was tender, and the tomato sauce was adequately sweet and refreshingly sour with a delicate aroma of herbs.
Chicken Kiev HK$158.00 (~S$26.30)
Boneless chicken breast pounded, breaded and subsequently deep-fried; sounds like the Japanese tempura, no? Wait, when I cut the cylinder-shaped breaded chicken into two halves, runny, buttery liquid just flowed out with no restraint. I enjoyed the contrast between the juicy chicken, although not entirely tender, on the inside and the crispy outside. The white cream sauce given on the side wasn't that thick, and it didn't have much of a taste, besides being a little tart. The vegetables on the side were fine; no complaints on those.
Plov Po Uzbekski HK$118.00 (~S$19.65)
The other main course I tried was the rice pilaf cooked with ingredients such as lamb, veal, carrots, onions and garlic. The rice was pretty flavourful and had a somewhat smooth texture, while the meat was pretty tender, although not particularly juicy. It was quite good, but not exceptional.
Fancy some Ukrainian coffee cake with chocolate icing? The heady aroma of coffee from the cake was appetising, although the cake itself didn't have too strong a taste of coffee. Still, it was good since the cake was soft, especially with the lower half being pretty moist.
A bit pricey for the somewhat small serving, but service was efficient, and it was definitely great to be welcomed by the friendly restaurant owner with his smile upon entering the restaurant. Oh, the restaurant made me feel like I was eating in an underground cavern or something with the dim lights. The air was a bit stale when I first arrived since the air-con was not turned on. However, once it was turned on soon afterwards, the atmosphere became more or less enjoyable. Pika's advice: For those of you who love to drink, do have a shot (or two) inside their own vodka ice-room!
Ivan the Kozak
46-48 Cochrane Street
(Mon-Fri: 12 noon - 12 midnight; Sat-Sun: 6.00pm - 12 midnight)
*Prices quoted are subject to 10% service charge.
Have a nice meal,