Mention Vladivostok, also known as the ‘Russian San Francisco’, and culinary delights are perhaps not the first thing that springs to mind. However, visiting gourmands may well be surprised at the eclecticism and quality of the local gastronomic scene. Situated at the terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railway, Vladivostok is closer to Tokyo and Seoul than to Moscow, a geographical reality reflected in its restaurants, which feature numerous excellent Japanese and Korean techniques and great seafood, in addition to the traditional Russian fare. Read on to find the eastern capital’s best places to grab sushi, kimchi or oysters.
‘Madam Vong’ soup Courtesy of Zuma Restaurant
Restaurant, Seafood, European, Asian, $$$
Cafe Studio interior | Courtesy of Cafe Studio
With its sleek, opulent décor and innovative Pan-Asiatic cuisine, Zuma features inventive fusion dishes, such as ‘Geisha’, a scallop-salmon-shrimp Japanese-style soup in creamy sauce, and tamaki tuna on a rocket, avocado and poached egg citrus salad. It also offers sushi, sashimi and various meat, salad and seafood dishes. Karaoke is available every day and a cozy bar completes the experience.
A popular café and restaurant, Studio has a cozy, modern interior complete with Wi-Fi, plump cushions and an exposed brickwork wall. The menu offers a varied selection of hearty cooked breakfasts, soups, salads, pizzas, quality meat and seafood dishes and desserts. There is also a bar offering a range of fresh-pressed juices, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and shisha pipes are available for hire. Not to be missed are the fresh-made cakes and pastries in the bakery, ranging from classics like Tiramisu and Black Forest to specialty made-to-order options.
Said to serve some of the best sushi in Vladivostok, Tokyo Sushi Bar is a chain with a difference, featuring five bright restaurants throughout the city each with a quirky variation in décor on a Japanese theme, such as Tokyo Kawaii which reflects the eponymous ‘cute’ aesthetic. The menu offers a large selection of sushi, sashimi and rolls in addition to hot dishes such as gyoza, yaki tori, noodle dishes, tempura and seafood salads. Vegetarian options and beer are also available.
Unapologetically carnivorous, Syndicate is a self-declared ‘meat restaurant’ and steakhouse designed with a Prohibition era Americana feel and featuring live jazz, blues and soul music every evening at 9pm. The menu is packed with a tempting array of grain and grass-fed beefsteaks, tender lamb and pork in addition to a selection of soups, salads, fish and Tex-Mex cuisine such as fajitas, burritos, quesadillas, chilli con carne and empanadas. A summer terrace provides outdoor seating in the warmer months.
Korea House allows diners to enjoy the healthy and delicious variety of traditional Korean cuisine. The menu is specially selected by Seoul restaurateur Mr. Kim, who as Chef also oversees all food preparation. Diners can choose from a variety of kimchi, hot appetizers, soups, dumpling, meat and fish dishes and grilled meat and experience the hospitality for which the restaurant is renowned. The restaurant’s striking interior reflects traditional Korean design, with its geometric panelling and elegant landscape painting.
A ‘Mediterranean’ restaurant bordering the Sea of Japan, Del Mar makes full use of Vladivostok’s plentiful seafood to produce outstanding dishes. Situated near the sea with a light, airy interior, an outdoor summer terrace and impressive views over Golden Horn Bay, the atmosphere indeed feels almost Mediterranean. In addition to a range of fish and seafood, including crab, scallops and oysters, mullet and sea cucumber, meat and vegetarian options are also available. Live music is played Thursday to Saturday evenings.
A top choice for hearty home-cooking, Kvartira 30 can truly be described as a ‘hidden gem’. Located in an unmarked apartment block with a modest exterior, the restaurant’s appearance is deceptive. Upon entering, guests are treated to fresh, locally grown and beautifully prepared food in cozy and intimate surroundings; with only a few tables and bar stools this restaurant feels more like a private dining room. Menu choices are limited but this is compensated for by the quality of produce, such as organic local vegetables and seafood fresh from the sea. Cooking lessons are also offered.
Another seafood favourite with a Mediterranean inspired flavour, Piatiy Okean (Fifth Ocean) offers sea views and dishes to match, with a selection of oysters, crabs, scallops, fish, caviar and other fresh maritime produce plus soups, salads and meat dishes. With humorous, attentive staff, a cozy, comfortable interior, and a beachside location with a summer terrace, Piatiy Okean is an ideal stop if you find yourself craving some seafood and seaside views to match. Piatiy Okean, Batareinaya 2B, Vladivostok, Russia, +7 423 243 3425