815 Denman Street
Lately, I have started to worry that I am starting to run out of places near my workplace to eat. Well, there are high-end places which are unlikely I will go anytime soon. But, then there are places that you simply overlook because they are so inconspicuous. One of these places happens to be Ukrainian Village, a small restaurant in Denman near Robson Street which I have seen there but never thought on visiting. But, in a random set of events, I ended up there.
I will admit I am not familiar with Ukrainian food other than the random cabbage roll or perogy. But, then again – and I apologize for the stereotyping, this ain’t Saskatchewan where there is a significant Ukrainian population (or descendant). That does not mean Ukrainians haven’t left a mark here either. Take for example, the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral and their Friday Night dinner, which was blogged by fellow Drea of TBDFBTI. I guess I should pay them a visit…
In the few instances I have been to Eastern European eateries, I will admit there is something that leave a mark (aside from the food, that is): hospitality. It feels as if you walked into somebody’s home. And Ukrainian Village has that feeling. However, can somebody explain to me the cactus???
Since I was there for lunch, I decided to go for their lunch menu. I could have ordered more but wasn’t that hungry that day. Come to think about it, my eating habit in the last couple of weeks have been somewhat wacky. Anyway, I ended up ordering something that would be “enough” for me – though might be more than enough for some people: a cabbage roll plus five perogies. Odd that, given my prior experience with Ukrainian has been cabbage roll and perogies and I end up ordering the same thing here rather than something more “interesting”, eh?
They have three type of perogies: Sauerkraut, potato and cheese, potato and onion. Since I was given the option to get “mixed”, i.e., I ended up with some of each. In the picture above, the sauerkraut would be the bottom right one, while the potato and cheese is the top left (with a somewhat orange-y colour) and potato and onion the one in the middle. It was served with sour cream. I know, I know, I shouldn’t be doing this with the food but, hey, almost anything for a good picture!
As for the taste itself, I can’t help myself help compare it to Chinese style dumplings (haa gao, siu mai, etc. etc.). But, come to think about it, such comparison is unfair, after all, Chinese dumplings are filled with meat rather than just veggies. Likewise, doing comparisons with, say, ravioli can be also unfair as these are usually served with a form of sauce, not to mention other type of filling. Regardless, I found these quite enjoyable. The sauerkraut version had an interesting acidity to it (which, fortunately, wasn’t overwhelming as I was fearing at first) and a small dab of sour cream help balance the flavour. The potato and onion had the least flavour of the three. Now, don’t get me wrong, they were good in its own ways, just that it did not have anything that would have made it too outstanding. Compare to the potato and cheese version, the cheese added some slightly savoury taste. Regardless, the smoothness of the potato was a good complement to the slight bite of the dough.
The cabbage roll was… Well, I think it was just average but, then again, I haven’t had that much experience with cabbage rolls. In an odd way, I wished it had more cabbage and less filling. I guess I needed some more vegetables that day, hehehehe. The reason why I found it average is that I was mentally making comparisons with a meatloaf or dim-sum style meatballs but sometimes you would have some side sauce with it. In these case, while it was moist, but lacked something to contrast the flavour. Still, I enjoyed eating it.
One thing that I found and some customers might not be happy with was the fact I kept hearing the sound of the microwave. Now, I know that some people do not think this is a good practice in some restaurants. However, in perspective, making perogies in a small scale is not an easy feat so I will give them so slack on this perspective. In the end, despite some small shortcomings, which are mostly due to what I am used to eating, I liked the food and the experience. This is a place I think I would like to come back and, hopefully, experience more of the eastern European hospitality.