Moscow’s Charming Chemodan Restaurant

Moscow’s Charming Chemodan Restaurant

Think you know Russian food? You know, borscht, beets, and black bread along with cabbage, kapusta and kasha?

Think beyond all that: try Siberian food. You don’t have to pack your suitcase and travel to the outback of Russia for such far-from-the-familiar cuisine; it’s cooked up right in metropolitan Moscow. With a nod to the environment and sustainable cuisine, this is “clean” food: ingredients are sourced from the most pristine parts of Siberia.

Chemodan's menu ingredients originate in Siberia, including the Lake Baikal region <br>Photo credit: Alla Shishkina

Chemodan’s menu ingredients originate in Siberia, including the Lake Baikal region
Photo credit: Alla Shishkina

Siberian Success, in MoscowChemodan – which means “suitcase” in Russian – offers rare Siberian dishes using recipes from 19th century cookbooks from the Yenesei region. Yenesei is the area where three mighty Siberian rivers – the Ob, Lena, and the Yenesei – flow into the Arctic Ocean. (Translation: fish recipes by the boatload.) For a contemporary twist, there’s also nouvelle Siberian cuisine on the menu.

“Clean” CuisineCreated by Russian actor Oleg Menshikov and Siberian restaurateur Dmitry Stepanov, Chemodan uses staples and ingredients delivered direct from Siberia’s vast taiga and rivers, including Altai game such as wild boar, bear and elk, as well as North Yenesei fish such as Siberian white salmon (nelma), whitefish (muksun), and tugun.

The menu is updated monthly, since its dishes reflect the hunting and fishing seasons in Siberia and use only the freshest ingredients. As in days of old, these dishes are best accompanied by vodka and all its flavorful variations, or with fruit brandies and liquors (nalivka). There’s always a pot of tea, too – exotic types like Guan Yin Bodhisattva tea.

Real pine cones adorn this Siberian entree of venison in pine nuts (<i>оленина в кедровых орешках</i>)<br>Photo credit: Chemodan Restaurant/Moscow, Russia

Pine cones adorn this Siberian entree of venison in pine nuts (оленина в кедровых орешках)
Photo credit: Chemodan Restaurant/Moscow, Russia

Siberian SamplingsWhat’s on the menu? Try main courses of shchi with deer meat and porcini, pelmeni stuffed with quail meat, or perhaps steamed Siberian whitefish with mushrooms and white sauce. Appetizers abound and desserts are from a bygone era, like Krasnoyarsk walnut soufflé, created from a recipe in an 1892 cookbook.

This Siberian sturgeon floats like a boat atop champagne sauce  <i>(осетр на шампанском)</i><br>Photo credit: Chemodan Restaurant/Moscow, Russia

This Siberian sturgeon floats like a boat atop champagne sauce (осетр на шампанском)
Photo credit: Chemodan Restaurant/Moscow, Russia

Nouvelle cuisine moves aside for old-fashioned Krasnoyarsk walnut souffle, from an 1892 recipe <br>Photo credit: Chemodan Restaurant/Moscow, Russia

Nouvelle cuisine moves aside for old-fashioned Krasnoyarsk walnut souffle, from an 1892 recipe
Photo credit: Chemodan Restaurant/Moscow, Russia

Dining, Old-World Siberian StyleJohn Seckel, who heads MIR’s affiliated office in Moscow and has lived in Russia since the 1990s, says Chemodan is well worth the price.

“If you’re only going to be in Moscow once in your life, and this is your only chance to taste Siberian cuisine, Chemodan is the place to splurge on yourself. The restaurant is designed to look like an old Russian apartment; each table has a different lamp shade and lighting,” John notes.

Old photographs, dim lamps, and vintage decor add to Chemodan's charming atmosphere Photo credit: John Seckel

Old photographs, dim lamps, and vintage decor add to Chemodan’s charming atmosphere
Photo credit: John Seckel

 

Suitcase StoriesSo why name a restaurant “Chemodan,” or “Suitcase?” Perhaps because it’s an old Russian tradition to sit on your suitcase for a few moments before you travel, collecting your thoughts and setting your mind on the journey ahead.

Regardless, Chemodan Restaurant is packed and ready for those who want a change in cuisine without traveling far.

Worn leather suitcases add to the warm ambience of this Siberian restaurant in Moscow <br>Photo credit: John Seckel

Worn leather suitcases add to the warm ambience of this Siberian restaurant in Moscow
Photo credit: John Seckel

Visit Chemodan Restaurant with MIRChemodan Restaurant is featured on MIR’s award-winning culinary tour, A Chronicle of Russian Culture & Cuisine. You can also visit the restaurant when you’re in Moscow on MIR tours to Russia, or add it as part of a custom private journey.


(Top photo credit: Chemodan Restaurant in Moscow, Russia – featuring Siberian wild game shashlik with onions and wild berries.)

PUBLISHED: June 24, 2014

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