Ukrainian dishes to try in Kyiv
Kyiv is a foodie city. There are restaurants everywhere serving a huge range of food from all over the world. You’ll see pizza and sushi everywhere, lots of Georgian food and even Asian. However, you are in Kyiv to try the local food, right? There are some delicious local Ukrainian dishes you should eat here.
Ukraine is a huge country, and food in Ukraine is regional. As we live in Kyiv, we’ll focus just on what Ukrainian cuisine we think you should try from this city. Here are our recommendations of the Ukrainian food in Kyiv you should eat.
Disclaimer: Apologies if you feel I’ve spelled any of these foods wrong. There are Ukrainian, Russian and other spellings and I’m not sure which is which. If I’ve mixed them around, sorry.
Borscht – one of the most famous Ukrainian dishes
A well-known Ukrainian food in Kyiv is, of cou
This is the borsch you’ve probably seen before, with its typical red colour coming from beetroot. It’s often made with pieces of meat in it, so be careful if you are vegetarian, and served with sour cream (smetana) and small bread rolls soaked in garlic called ‘pampushki’.
An alternative to the red borsch comes with sorrell, giving it a green colour. It is often served with hard boiled eggs, as well as the sour cream.
Where to eat borsch in Kyiv: Kanapa Restaurant on Andryivski Descent serves borsht in a hollowed out cabbage, which is quite funky, especially for photos.
Okroshka is a cold soup, like gaspacho. To me, cold soup isn’t quite right, but some people find it refreshing on a hot day. It’s made with raw vegetables, boiled eggs and meat, cooked with kvass. Kvass is a common drink in Ukraine which is made with bread. Yes, you heard me, it’s a drink made of bread. And it’s used to make the soup.
What are you going to do in Ukraine during your visit? How about visiting a nuclear missile base and pushing the button?
Salo – Food in Ukraine you must try
As locals what Ukrainian cuisine you have to eat when you come to Kyiv, and it’s salo. Salo is basically cold pork fat. It comes in a surprising number of variations. It can be salted, smoked, cooked or raw, comes mashed like
Salo is typically served on black bread, with
It might not sound good, but it is actually quite tasty, if incredibly fatty. Ukrainians claim that it doesn’t make you fat if you just eat a tiny amount each day and that it’s very good for your health.
Where to eat salo in Kyiv: Korchama Taras Bulba at 2-4/7 Pushkinskaya
Coming to Ukraine? Read our Tips for Travel in Ukraine
I guess we can’t talk about Ukrainian food in Kyiv without talking about the famous chicken Kiev. I’ve been eating chicken kiev since I was a child, but I never gave a thought to why it was called that or where it came from. The one from my childhood was filled with garlic butter and parsley. The originals are made without the garlic, but lots and lots of butter.
Be careful when you cut into it, as the pressure can make the hot butter squirt out at you, or a passer by. I once hit a passing waiter.
Where to eat chicken kiev in Kyiv: Chicken Kiev Restaurant just behind Kreshchatyk serves a few types of the dish in a cool Soviet-style restaurant.
For more on specific restaurants to try, see our post on the best Ukrainian restaurants in Kyiv.
Verenyky – True Ukrainian cuisine
Another typical feature of Ukrainian cuisine in Kyiv is the dumpling. After living in Asia for so long, it was interesting to see dumplings in a different part of the world. Partly because, well, they are almost the same!
Our students get very upset when you tell them that we have one word ‘dumpling’ to describe a range of completely different foods.
Where to eat verenyky in Kyiv: Katusha Restaurants specialise in varenyky with a wide variety of fillings. The setting is old Soviet style with traditional cartoons playing on the tvs.
Pelmeni are also dumplings, and very similar to Verenyky, but slightly smaller and pinched together. Again, they can be filled with a variety of ingredients, but generally some kind of meat or fish.
Like street art? Check out our post on street art and craft beer in Kyiv
It’s not only dumplings that seem to exist all over the world. I’m sure most people will recognise a potato pancake. In the UK we have potato cakes, Belarus’ national dish is draniki, and in Ukraine they have duruny.
Duruny is a combination of grated potato and sometimes onion, which is fried into thin patties. As with many things, you’ll probably notice, they are served with sour cream.
If you’re a fan of potato cakes, you need to visit Belarus, where it’s the national dish. See our post on the cool things to do in Minsk.
Where to eat deruny: The restaurant at the Mamayeva Sloboda Cossack Village
The thin pancakes popular in the UK on Shrove Tuesday are also a
Just like Shrove Tuesday, Ukraine has a pancake festival before the start of lent. Called ‘Masnytsya’ which means ‘butter week’, its origins are apparently pagan and celebrate the end of winter and coming of Spring (although it doesn’t always seem that way when it’s snowing). If you are visiting Kyiv during Masnytsya, there are festivals at the various exhibition grounds such as Expocentre.
Syriniki – Ukrainian breakfast food
Popular at a Ukrainian breakfast and as snacks,
Looking for something other than Ukrainian food? How about some Asian food in Kyiv?
The story of Red Riding Hood originated in the Slavic world. Remember the bread in the basket that Red was taking to Grandma’s house, to give to her Grandma who was sick in bed? If you think about it, it’s a bit odd that she was just taking a loaf of bread. Not a sandwich or other tasty snack, just bread.
Come on Grandma, make your own sandwich, you lazy mare.
Well here’s my conclusion. She wasn’t taking a loaf of bread, but a basket of filled bread rolls – pyrizhky.
Pyrizhky are basically bread dough stuffed with a filling and either baked or fried. Just like vereniky and pelmini, the fillings can be savoury or sweet, including cabbage, mushrooms, potato, meat, curd cheese and fruit.
Pyrizhky are the perfect snack
The Kyiv Perepichka window on Bogdan Khmelnytskoho Street has always got a huge queue outside. Rain or shine, -20 and snow…there are people patiently waiting to buy this snack. Perepichka is a sausage in a doughnut. There’s no other way to describe it. However, if you ask someone from Kyiv what Ukrainian food they recommend you eat here, and they will say that.
Lavash is another food in Ukraine that comes from outside the country. Lavash is a flat bread that originates in the Caucasus region. It’s sold as a wrap sandwich, filled with Suluguni cheese (a salty cheese from Georgia), herbs and sometimes meat or tomato.
Greek food has stuffed vine leaves, and Ukrainian food has stuffed cabbage leaves. Golupsi rolls are filled with rice and minced meat and then either stewed or baked.
Here’s another dish that we are not fond of, but it forms part of a traditional Ukrainian meal. Holodets is basically meat and vegetables, set into gelatin. Like a dinner jelly.
Olivier Salad – Celebratory Ukrainian food
Ukrainians follow the Orthodox calendar, so their Christmas is celebrated in January. For both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, 12 dishes are prepared and served at midnight. The 12 can be traditional Ukrainian dishes, such as
One thing our students say is always on their table is olivier salad. You might know it as Russian salad, it’s diced vegetables, boiled eggs, pickle and meat, mixed in mayonnaise. Is the definition of a salad generally something healthy? The same suggests it is, but this dish probably isn’t.
You’ll see a lot of mayonnaise in Ukrainian salads. Another typical one is herring salad, or ‘herring under a fur coat’ as it’s known. It’s layered herring, grated vegetables, and grated beetroot, all mixed in mayonnaise. Yep, another dish that sounds like it should be healthy, but probably isn’t.
Ukraine is known as the breadbasket of Europe, and the country is full of fields growing a whole range of fruit and vegetables. In the summer, markets and shops are full of fresh produce. In the summer and autumn, all this produce is pickled to take people through the winter. Ukrainian pickles include gherkins, sauerkraut, beetroot, and tomatoes. Grated carrot is pickled to make
Ukrainians even pickle watermelon. Pickled
If you leave or arrive in Kyiv from the railway station or the bus stations, look out for lots of stalls selling circular cake boxes filled with Kyiv cake. This cake is layers of meringue and butter cream, with hazelnuts and covered in chocolate frosting and icing.
Where to buy Kyiv Cake – in any Roshen chocolate store, such as the one on Kreshatek street next to Bessarabia market.
Napoleon cake is another layered cake, with thin layers of puff pastry and custard.
Ok, so this is a Lviv product, but you’ll find the Lviv strudel shops around Kyiv. Lvivski Plyatski shops sell a range of different strudels with
Where to eat Lviv strudel: Lvivski Plyatski cafes around Kyiv.
Beer Snacks in Kyiv
Most bars in Kyiv will also serve food, but sometimes you just want some snacks to go along with your drinks. There are always chips/french fries, but Ukraine also has a few different beer snacks/
On many bar menus in Kyiv are grenki. These are chunks of dark rye bread that are fried and coated in garlic oil.
When we lived in the north of Vietnam, there were bars that served dried squid and dried fish with the beer. Women walked around the bars and sold them, you could buy them in the street and you could buy it in crisp bags. Along with the dumplings, this is another thing that also exists in Ukraine. Bars serve whole dried fish, or strips of it.
Beer Point bar in Podil has a huge selection of dried fish on the bar you can choose from. It’s quite a quirky pub because you take your own glass out of the fridge and hand it to the bar man to fill with one of a selection of local beers.
Where to eat dried fish in Kyiv: Beer Point
Who doesn’t fancy some slices of pigs ear with their beer? In the UK, pork crackling (the fatty part of the pork, fried) is popular in the pub, in Ukraine, people snack from plates of pigs ears.
Traditional Ukrainian Drinks in Kyiv
As mentioned above, Kvass is a drink made from bread. It looks like beer but it non-alcoholic. It comes fresh in some restaurants, and you can also buy it in plastic bottles like soft drinks in shops.
Mors, Kompot and Uzvar
These three drinks are all made with dried berries and/or fruit. Non-carbonated, they also don’t contain alcohol, although they can be used as chasers for vodka.
Horlika and Nalyvka
Ukrainian vodka is known as horlika. It also comes flavoured and infused with different ingredients, which are called nalyvka. Some are mass manufactured, but many are made small scale, both by companies and by small producers.
It’s typical drunk in shots accompanied with salo on black bread.
Some you should try are horseradish (Khrenovka) and chilli.
Where to drink nalyvka: Last Barricade Restaurant
This is a tincture made with fermented honey. It’s very similar to mead, really, that drink that was popular with monks.
We’ve lived in Ukraine for four years now, so have a look at our other posts on Ukraine.
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