Built as a Russian foothold in the Far East, Vladivostok is one of the most captivating cities sitting on the North Pacific. Influenced by both Western and Eastern culinary traditions, its cuisine can surprise the most sophisticated palates.
The food found in Vladivostok can be Russian, Italian, Czech, Georgian, Chinese, Japanese and even Korean. As a seaside resort, a striking abundance of ocean delicacies are key elements in Vladivostok’s kitchens.
Here are seven of the most authentic delicacies that you can't miss.
The most luxurious dish on dining tables in Vladivostok is caviar. You’ll find three types of caviar: grey (Alaska pollack), red (salmon) and black (sturgeon). The taste of black caviar is commonly considered the best. Even in the 1950s, when the production of black caviar was much higher than it is today, a slice of bread smeared with black caviar and butter was a treat for locals.
Caviar should be served chilled and never at room temperature. Ceramic, glass or plastic utensils are the best choice when consuming caviar, as steel cutlery would cause the taste to turn metallic. Pairing it with vodka or champagne will improve the lip-smacking experience.
2. Kamchatka crab
The world famous Kamchatka red crab is considered as Russia's "other caviar" and fetches high prices in foreign markets. Also known as the red king crabs native to the Bering Sea, these creatures are commonly found along the Vladivostok shores of the Sea of Japan.
Many Russian chefs have developed special cooking techniques based on local tastes. Restaurants in Vladivostok usually boil or steam an entire fresh crab directly taken from the tank. Frozen ones would never be cooked under any circumstances. If you find cracking crab legs laborious, grilled cleaned legs as well as cheesy crab pasta and crab salads are less of a hassle.
Scallop is one of the most beloved seafood by locals. No matter which way you prefer consuming it – raw, baked or fried – the mollusk is simply tasty.
Visitors are advised to try raw scallop with a squeeze of lemon or a few drops of soy sauce, to get all of its nutrients. A quick, easy seafood casserole mixing scallops, shrimps and halibut, is a specialty recommended by many.
4. Sea cucumber
Chinese called the bays near Vladivostok Haishenwai, the bays of sea cucumber, in ancient times. The not-very-appetizing appearance of the sea cucumber actually hides its miraculous qualities. It is both food and medicine in Asian culture.
The sea cucumber is the only creature in the world whose meat does not contain microbes or bacteria. Vladivostok is one of the rare places where you can try it, so make sure to either buy sea cucumbers from stores or order it in restaurants. You don’t want to miss the chance to taste its muscular texture.
5. Pyanse (steamed buns)
Pyanse is said to have first made in Kholmsk, by Sakhalin Koreans in the early 1980s, as an adaptation of Korean "king dumpling." It has been considered a signature street food favorite in Vladivostok since the early 1990s, as women could be seen selling it near bus stops and train stations.
Although the bun, stuffed with cabbage and meat, is a calorific concoction, tourists can have it as a good lunch choice when taking trains or climbing hills.
6. Pelmeni (Russian dumplings)
You cannot leave Vladivostok without trying pelmeni. Pelmeni are dumplings stuffed with either meat fillings, mushrooms, cheese, or Russians’ beloved vegetable – potatoes. Restaurants in Vladivostok would also choose fish or scallop to replace minced meat as a new twist to the ordinary dish.
Typically, pelmeni are served without dressing, or with sour cream or ketchup, offering a completely different experience from eating dumplings in other countries.
7. Primorsky candies
In Vladivostok, even confectionery products can’t be made without sea products. Among the region's most popular sweets, the most signature ones are candies and chocolates made with sea salt and seaweed.
Popular candies known as "Ptichyemoloko" (bird's milk) make use of agar produced from algae. With various flavors such as lemon, vanilla and almond, it would be a pity if you forget to grab a box of the snack before leaving.
Vladivostok is a place where different culinary approaches and styles blend harmoniously. Its natural ingredients, various spices and incredible range of aromas valued both in restaurants and home kitchens will stay in visitors' memories.