Saturday, 17 September 2016

Taste of Ukraine in Central

Cabbage rolls filled with rice and minced meat
About a month ago a colleague told me that Ivan the Kozak was shut down on Cochrane Street. Apparently it had been around for many years so it was a surprise to hear it had been closed down, but then again it was probably a victim of jacked up rents.

Our braised ox tongue with pastry on top!
However, about a week ago when my relatives wanted to have a birthday dinner there, I was surprised to find Ivan the Kozak had re-opened on Wyndham Street and I was keen to try out the food.

I didn't visit the place before so it's hard for me to compare, but the restaurant has a cozy atmosphere, with needlepoint cushions, wooden tables and chairs, cabinets filled with glasses and crockery, and an idyllic panoramic picture to transport diners to the Eastern European country.

For starters we had two salads, one with beetroot, herring, potato and carrot topped with salmon roe that was refreshing and light, followed by the Russian salad, finely diced vegetables mixed in mayonnaise.

Next came "darlings" or cabbage rolls filled with rice and minced meat with tomato sauce and sour cream on top. We really enjoyed this dish that was quite filling, though more tomato sauce would have made it better. We're wondering if we can replicate this at home...

Here's another hearty bowl with beef, carrots and potatoes
Another was a small bowl that was covered with pastry that was baked. When the cover was removed, inside was braised ox tongue with melted cheese. This dish was a highlight, as the ox tongue was flavourful, cooked in a clear broth, and the layer of cheese wasn't too heavy. We ate the pastry on its own, though one could have ripped a piece off and put a piece of ox tongue on top before eating it.

We also have a slightly bigger bowl with the pastry on top again, and inside revealed a hearty combination of chunks of braised beef with carrots and potatoes. We also ordered lamb shank that came in a black stone bowl that was bubbling madly when it arrived at the table.

Steam bubbling from the lamb shank dish obscured my camera!
In it was a leg of lamb with most of the meat on the bone, though it came off easily, cooked in a soupy concoction that included big chunks of potatoes and carrots. Eventually the soup evaporated into a delicious sauce.

One more must-have is the dumplings, and the ones we ordered had potatoes and mushrooms in them, accompanied with some sour cream. This also had nice flavours, though the dumplings weren't stuffed to the gills as one would do for Chinese ones.

While we arrived at 7pm, the restaurant was pretty quiet until about an hour later when people streamed in, either with reservations or walked in. It's pretty impressive the restaurant did quite well tonight, considering its new location.

Dumplings with potatoes and mushrooms, and sour cream
Service is nice if you can get their attention.

I hope to try the borscht next time and perhaps the pancakes too!

Ivan the Kozak
1/F, Parehk House
63 Wyndham Street
2851 1193


  1. I'd been to Ivan the Kozak years ago and was not impressed at all by it -- to the extent that I couldn't quite believe that it could be in operation for so long while other, better restaurants closed down. Have you tried Dacha (on Hollywood Road)? Prefer the Eastern European food there...

    1. Dacha was good, but expensive for what you get!