welcome

Seriously, I don't know how it has taken me this long to write about Buyan, especially considering that I am there at least once a month.

That being the case, I'm saying upfront now that this is going to be one of two features devoted to them. Whilst the next one will be about their bar and insanely good selection of drinks (especially the vodka), this review is all about the food which in my opinion has gone up by leaps and bounds since they first opened, to which I give a lot of credit to their new Chefs, Daniel and Sasha.

So after another superb wine tasting held at Buyan (May's theme was 'Greatest Pinot Noirs of New Zealand'), I had the chance to sit down with the other wine boffins and satiate our bellies.

First up was the Mimosa Salad ($10), a layered cake of cooked salmon flakes, egg, carrot, white onion and some homemade mayonnaise ....This is one of the staples when I dine at Buyan. It's wholesome, simple and pairs nicely with a shot of vodka.

I should mention the Herring under Fur Coat ($18) which sadly I don't have a photo of. It's somewhat similar to the Mimosa Salad except that it's two fundamental ingredients are salted herring and cooked beetroot. I love this one, especially as a bar snack with some of Buyan's awesome spirits.


Below is the Blini Wrap with Salmon Roe ($22). Just imagine some salty, savoury ikura wrapped inside a delicate pancake, served with some light sour cream, chives and lemon juice...well there you are. Another superb appetiser or snack at the bar with some vodka.

The Olivier Salad ($12) may sound French but it is anything but. Stuffed with eggs, peas, onions, potato, carrots, mayonnaise, pickled cucumbers and chives, this is basically a concoction of pretty much every Russian staple food. It's pure comfort food and needs no style...and I love it.

And another salad, this time with chicken..... The chicken salad ($10) is visually one of the coolest looking dishes. When I was training as a Chef, I always hated having to brunoise (a very fine cut for vegetables) and this dish uses that technique to impressive effect. It's colourful, well textured with good crunch, while the chicken provides a nice filling balance.

Moving on to the cooked delights, let's start with Khackapuri ($10). If you're at Buyan's bar for long enough, you are bound to spot this dish as it's a popular favourite. This Georgian specialty - a stuffed naan-type bread with haloumi and mozzarella cheese is soft, puffy and oh-so-buttery. I have no idea how many calories each slice has but frankly I don't care. After my .....nth vodka! the Khachapuri is just what the doctor ordered....Oh, and if you want to make it EVEN more lush, you can also get it stuffed with minced beef, which is ochen harosho(very good).

Moving back to Russian cuisine proper, below is one of Russia's most well-know foods; Borscht ($12)...I can't help it but for some reason this beetroot and cabbage soup with beef just makes me want to sing the tunes of the musical Fiddler on the Roof - Oy vey babushka!

As you can see, this beautiful clay pot (imported from Russia no less) is filled with the ingredients shredded to perfection. It looks awesome and tastes superb. Add in a dollop of sour cream to thicken the soup even more.

And for a bit of old Mother Russia, give the Cossack Lamb ($28) a go; stewed lamb topped with mash potatoes then oven baked. It's the Russian version of a Shepherd's pie! Expect succulent lamb chunks and soft, creamy mash. A very homely dish straight from the Soviet heartland.

Although the Beef Stroganov ($30) is on a bed of 'mashed potatoes', it really does feel more like gnocchi potato dumplings- which is a welcome surprise. The beef is tender and the creamy sauce is delectable. I'd honestly recommend sharing this as it's probably a bit too rich to have by yourself.

Coming back on another dining trip, I decided to re-visit the Shashlyk($38) since the new Chefs took over the kitchen and I have to commend them on how much better it is now. Shashlyk is effectively a kind of shish kebab. We're talking a healthy serving of chicken, lamb and trout cubes with a bit of char. The very cool and interesting twist is that it's served with tomato puree (instead of ketchup or another condiment). What this does is provide a massively refreshing and cool sensation as you bite in to the meat - which by the way is full of flavour and most succulent. I'd really recommend this. It's probably the most 'approachable dish' on the Buyan menu.

And what better to pair with the Shashlyk than Buyan's Plov ($30). At the risk of sounding barbaric, try and imagine an Uzbek lamb biryani. It's a lush, warming dish and the kind of meal you'd want on a cold winter night. Eating together with the shashlyk was even better as it provided as a pleasurable texture balance between the meat and the rice.

As you can probably tell by this rather lengthy (although hopefully enthralling) review, it's one of my top picks in Singapore. You have to remember, the food served here is like no other in Singapore, and once you get used to it, I hope you'll also become a regular.

Buyan is fast becoming a well known venue for events so do keep track of our events listings:http://www.citynomads.com/events/ . I've been to several of them, whether they be DJ nights in the bar or wine dinners in the restaurant. You won't be disappointed.

Above picture shows myself with Buyan's (Indra - far right) and other wine experts in Singapore post last month's New Zealand Pinot Noir tasting.

What I absolutely love about Buyan is the service. Despite having a very rich-posh-expensive feel to it (probably due to their wine collection that would make even Les Amis blush), the staff make you feel like you're right at home. Aside from knowing the menu back to front, they are extremely friendly, knowledgeable and happy to guide you artfully in to the world of Russian cuisine.

Buyan is located at 9/10 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089593.

Opening hours: Restaurant - Tuesday-Saturday Noon-Midnight. Bar - Wednesday Noon - Midnight, Thurs-Fri Noon-1am, Saturday Noon 2am.

To make a reservation, call 6223 7008


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