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Buyan-not your stuffy Russian joint

By  |  Updated 25 Jul 2011
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Buyan-not your stuffy Russian joint

Must tries: kamchatka crab, lamb kharco

The dearth of Russian cuisine in Singapore has pretty much narrowed our Russian culinary vocabulary to ‘shashlik’ and ‘borscht soup’. And it doesn’t help that words like peasantry and rustic spring to mind when one thinks of Russian cuisine.

But all that is set to change with the opening of Buyan.

Housed in an atmospheric triple-storey shop house at the hip Duxton Hill enclave, Buyan offers a trio of experiences to woo Singaporeans to a whole new world of Russian dining. There’s the dark wood-swathed bar on level 1 that pours Russian beers, wines and beverages including mors (a beverage made from mashed berries native to Russian forests); a theatrical two-tiered fine dining salon with dome-shaped roof adorned by hand-painted murals on level two; as well as a bright and chirpy casual dining room on the third floor.

Buyan Russian Haute Cuisine & Caviar Bar

And befitting the array of dining experiences, the restaurant also serves up two different iPad-clad menus proffering casual dining and haute Russian cuisine. Be forewarned that perusing these menus can be a mind-boggling exercise – consider this: why would one place borscht soup in the fine dining category and lamb kharco, a Georgian lamb soup, into the casual menu?

But here’s the deal: if you can feed your fancy – and appetite with variety, there’s no reason why you should settle for just one menu.

And we did just that.

Borscht soup

From the haute menu, heart-warming borscht soup ($16) was a calming beetroot-based consomme with a mound of shredded cabbage; the leg of kamchatka crab – the largest crab in the world – was served with a timbale of corn kernels, rice and kamchatka crab shreds ($45); while the deconstructed beef stroganoff ($50) revealed itself as slices of fork-tender beef topped with creamy Isigny sauce and chopped-up sauteed chanterelle mushrooms. But you can’t say you’ve had haute Russian cuisine without savouring those tiny clumps of black pearls and Buyan offers a carefully curated list of caviar ranging from Sturia Vintage to the Karat Gold variety (priced from $6.50 to $10 per gram).

Kamchatka crab

The casual dining menu, while less costly, was no less flavoursome. The lamb khako, or Georgian lamb soup ($12), was a hearty soup chock-a-block with barley, lamb shreds and Georgian spices; while the pelmeni ($15) – which is quite similar to the Chinese dumplings– was served with a Russian twist, in rich mushroom sauce and with sour cream on the side. Buyan’s shashlik ($38), or skewered meat, too won our adoration with its beautifully plated lamb, chicken and sturgeon kebabs. And in true Russian fashion, the meal ended simply with a striped honey cake ($10).

Haute cuisine or otherwise, Buyan is a great place to start if you wish to widen your cultural capacity on authentic Russian cuisine.

Buyan Russian Haute Cuisine & Caviar Bar

9/10 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089593

Tel: (65) 6223 7008

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Evelyn Chen
Evelyn Chen
Evelyn Chen traded her near-solitaire frequent flyer miles from her jet setting corporate days for a critic’s pen, and has been eating, drinking and sleeping on the job ever since. She writes about food and travel and sits on the S.E.Asian judging panel of the San Pellegrino World 50 Best. Evelyn’s gourmet jaunts have been published in Conde Nast Traveller, Destin Asian and The Independent. Her article on Singapore’s fine dining scene won her the Mont Blanc Food Writer of the year award at the World Gourmet Summit in 2010.
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