Friday, August 3, 2012

The Business Lunch

(To hear the audio files, click on the title to view the entire post)

Business is a word that has been successfully integrated into the Russian language.
business plans

Listen to these familiar words:
бизнес ланч
бизнес тренинг
бизнес митинг

When I first heard the term бизнес ланч back in 2006, I thought it was the funniest borrowed phrase ever. It doesn't refer to an actual business lunch, ie. discussing business over lunch. In fact, according to this Russian blogger such a meeting would not go over well in Russia! It simply means a pre-set lunch menu that's usually offered between noon and 3-5 PM.

Business lunches are cool: they're cheap, they're fast, and they flat-out just sound intriguing. This kind of meal is very popular in Ukraine. It's served as a three-course affair and is available almost everywhere.

Where to go in Kharkov for a business lunch?
First up, Cafe-Bar People on Sumskaya Street. It's tucked away next to the Ave Plaza shopping center, not far from the Historical Museum metro stop.
Blink and you'll miss it. Look for the big menu (in English!)
1 PM, no crowds. Service was nevertheless, um, not in a hurry.
There are six business lunches on the menu here, all variations of soup, meat/dumplings, salad, and beverage. Here's what #5 looks like:

Left: borsch, pampushki (garlic bread rolls), and uzvar (very sugary fruit juice)

Right: the main course. Cabbage salad, pork, potatoes with a sliver of butter.

This was a rather large meal to be served downtown for just 32 uah! The borsch, the most flavorful dish, was delivered first. The salad and mashed potatoes were a bit bland... that's something my American taste buds are still getting used to. Luckily the pork came with a splash of spicy tomato sauce.
Zoom in to read the menu
Next up, Yakitoria's Sushi Lunch (also served from 12-5 PM). We had originally hoped to go to Paris but they turned out to be too upscale* to offer a business lunch. (*D prefers the word snobby.) Yakitoria was just across the street and had a huge суши ланч advertisement on display.
sushi lunch ad
Pushkinska location

By the way, if sushi doesn't make you think of Italian food, then you haven't lived in Ukraine :p This is another example of the ubiquitous sushi/Italian food operation, except that the Italian food is actually served in a separate location called Mafia.

The sushi lunch has almost the same idea as the regular бизнес ланч: choose three items, except that the sushi is served first and the soup is served last. Everything was brought to the table very quickly.

Yakitoria offers 4 choices for each course (sushi, noodles, soup) plus juice or tea. The tea was served in a teapot which meant enough tea for two people. This all adds up to a slightly pricier lunch: 49 uah.
miso soup
more noodles!
I was also really excited to see that an inexpensive "European breakfast" is offered until noon! You can order two dishes + drink for 29 uah, or a big fancy omelet + drink for 35 uah.

Hungry for more? Check out More Business Lunches in Kharkov!

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