Sunday, November 4, 2012


I'd been planning to do some sightseeing this weekend with a classmate but was instead waylaid by a cold. I guess I'll be a good blogger and catch up with another ongoing topic- food!


All over Kharkov you'll find little kiosks with the кулиничи sign. Usually there will be a small crowd inside: hungry students standing at the counter while they finish their lunch-on-the-run, morose men nursing cups of coffee, office workers buying bread on their way home. These кулиничи kiosks are on practically every street corner. Start walking in any direction- by the time you lose sight of the closest kiosk, another one will have appeared. I spent last winter addicted to their chocolate frosted cookies; it would have been easier to resist if I didn't have to walk by their display windows every day on the way home :p
We stop at кулиничи often to buy bread and sweets but don't eat there much, as there's just standing room and the menu is limited to bread-based goods. (Exception: bought a pizza and desert thingy to snack on in the forest last fall.) There is more of a cafe on Pushkinska Street with real seating. The front is another buy-to-go kiosk (across the street from Pizza Felice) but if you walk behind the building, you'll discover an actual sit-down place that offers inexpensive ciabatta sandwiches and soups.

Кулиничи, it turns out, is a local bread factory located in Kharkov's outskirts. Despite only having been around since 1995, their website claims that more than 200,000 people buy their products daily.

Час поїсти

Next up, one of my fav kinds of restaurants- the столовая! This local cafeteria, час поїсти, is clean, upscale, and next to the Pushkinska metro station. I've even been able to sneak in here to use the restrooms, which is a huge coup here in Ukraine.

Час поїсти is a franchise. They label themselves a fast food restaurant/cafe/pizzeria but I beg to differ- it's a glorified cafeteria. A meal for 2 (cabbage salad, french fries, ketchup, "asian" chicken, mashed potatoes, baked cabbage, two blinchiki, and a 7-up) cost around 70 uah. Beer costs about 10 uah.

The only downside is the employees' attitudes, which can vary from tepid to downright rude.

Факел Кафе

Another столовая that I ADORE is Факел Kaфе (aka Lighthouse Cafe). This place is just down the road from the Prospect Gagarin metro stop. Walk towards the Lopan river and the building should appear on your left, just before the roundabout. This little cafeteria is like a blast from the past. We reluctantly caught lunch there one rainy October afternoon. It didn't look very impressive from the outside but we were miserable and wet and desperate for shelter, for yours truly had left the apartment in just a t-shirt.

Inside was a dim room, lit mainly by the weak light filtering through the windows. The menu was displayed in a Marlboro cigarette frame and a big TV in the corner showed an old crime TV show from the USSR (1980s). Solemn men hunched over their trays in silence, spooning up borsch, eyes glued to the TV. I would have loved to get a pic but many of these men (and women!) were in cop uniforms.... so, no :p The cashier was a heavily made-up woman in her 40s or 50s, wearily perched on a stool, hairsprayed, unenthusiastic, in a red open-shouldered fashion top with lipstick to match. In other words, I loved it there! And all that food in the photo cost only 40 uah!


If you're looking for someplace more festive, Шоти is where we end up every time we're celebrating. Шоти calls itself a traditional Ukrainian and Caucasian kitchen (Caucasian as in Central Asian- Georgia, Azerbaijan, etc). Pretty much every local restaurant boasts the same label but I really enjoy the food at this place. At least, I think I do. Every time we come here we drink at least a bottle of vodka in the restaurant, usually more, so don't even dream of asking me how much things cost. The paying-the-bill part is always a little fuzzy. But I remember that the borsch is good :p

Шоти is downtown on Мироносицкая street 12. If you start at the Shevchenko statue, cross Sumskaya street, continue walking in the same direction for a block, then turn left at the corner, you'll see the restaurant on the right side of the street. I think for now they're a smoking/non-smoking restaurant, hopefully that will change in December. Hooray, no more smoking : ) except at the outdoor tables.

Китайская кухня Лебедь

Finally, my beloved (and only) Chinese restaurant in Kharkov- Китайская кухня Лебедь.

At 50+ uah per dish, this place empties our wallet every time we visit but it's totally worth it. The restaurant is never crowded and the waitresses actually border on friendly. Tables in the main area are separated by tall screens painted with Chinese imagery. On our last visit we were invited to sit in one of the private rooms, complete with golden toad in the corner and a Lazy Susan on the table!

far left: mirrored ceiling in the private room
far right: street entrance at night

This Chinese restaurant has had two locations- ул. Отакара яроша 18г (phone 751-30-88) and ул. Красноармейская 15 (phone 750-93-03). We always visit the Красноармейская location. It's not far from the train station and it's open from 11 AM to 11 PM. Sadly, one day there was a "ремонт" (repair) sign on the door and the next- gone! Closed up shop completely! : (

Have you tried out any of these restaurants? If so, what did you think?


  1. There's at least one more Chinese restaurant that I know of. It's called Взлетающий Дракон - . It used to be REALLY good. It's rather fancy and definitely not cheap, but if you like Chinese food I'd recommend trying it.

    On the lower price range there's another interesting option. But you have to be adventurous enough :) As you probably know there's a million and one Asian workers at Barabashova market (it still exists, right?). As much as I hated the damn place and avoided it at all costs, their "food court" is worth checking out. Essentially it's an Asian food market that sells produce, spices, sauces and meat/fish, just like what you'd see in any China town in America. Ukrainians are suspicious about that stuff so it's mostly for Asians who work at the market. On the second floor there's a cafe that serves Vietnamese and Chinese food. It's the opposite of fancy, but definitely authentic. It looks quite shady, but authentic as it could be and I've eaten there many times with no problem.

    Finally, regarding the smoking ban as of Dec 16th. I won't believe it until I see it, so don't hold your breath. No pun intended. Irish pubs, upscale restaurants with rows of Porsche Cayennes parked at the entrance, Caucasian cafes that you mentioned - I don't believe their clientele will give up smoking, no matter what the law says. I know Ukraine is not first and people here and in Europe were skeptical too, but no other country had the entire population with Ukrainian mentality :) We'll see :)

    1. Hi Sergiy, thanks for the tips! Will definitely put Взлетающий Дракон on the list. If you and your girlfriend feel like Chinese food while you're in Kharkov, maybe we can even visit it together. I did eat once at that cafe in Barabashova. It was like being transported to another country because you're right, there were no Ukrainians there, only Asians! We had really cheap and delicious pho. It was so good that I didn't even mind feeling bad afterwards :p But if you say you've never had a problem after eating there, I'll give them another shot.