It’s been many years since my last visit to Shashlik, so I was thrilled when CT suggested that we should go there for dinner to celebrate her birthday.Shashlik was started in the 80s by 9 lifelong friends and migrants from Hainan Island, China. They had learnt the skills of the trade from the head Russian chef at the now defunct Troika Restaurant (which closed in 1983).
This restaurant is like a time capsule. The decor is very old-school (early 80s style) and the stern, middle-aged service staff were still as intimidating as I remembered them from a few years ago. Everytime I go there, I feel like an errant student that had been hauled into the Principal’s office. The service staff have a “no-nonsense” attitude, which makes me feel compelled to place my order in 30 seconds flat (ok, I never timed myself but you get the idea that you should not waste their time).
Starter : Borshch @ S$7.00
Shashlik is famous for their Borshsch, which we love! It arrived on a creaky wooden trolley in a tureen. The waitress ladled our portions into soup plates, gave a generous dollop of sour cream and served us without even so much as a grunt when we thanked her. Well, the service here is just as cold as I remembered it.I’ve not been to Eastern Europe yet (hope to do someday) so I can’t compare this with the real McCoy. Borshsch (aka Borscht / Borsch) is a Ukrainian vegetable soup which is traditionally cooked with beetroot as the main ingredient, hence the characteristic strong red colour. Apparently, an orange coloured, tomato paste-based version exists, which is probably the version that’s served here.Whatever the matter, the Borshch here is delicious! It’s like a cross between Italian Minestrone and Hungarian Goulash
. I loved its robust flavour and the texture of the softened cabbage leaves, carrot chunks and potato chunks. I also loved how stirring in the sour cream thickened the soup and added a creamier dimension to its flavour. Authentic or not, this soup is most satisfying and I must say that its my favourite dish here. This is a Must-Try
Main : Shashlik – Beef Fillet @ S$25
This place is also famous for its namesake, “Shashlik” (a dish after which the restaurant is named). Shashlik is a skewered meat dish that is generally made with beef, pork or lamb that have been marinated overnight with herbs and spices.The beef shashlik served here is marinated tenderloin that has been cooked on a grill and then placed onto a hotplate. It was succulently tasty and is served without any sauce. It doesn’t need any sauce as the beef is very flavoursome and tender. The picture above is that of GH’s main course.
Main : Tournedos Rossini @ S$26.00
CT and I wanted to try the Tournedos Rossini for a change as we’ve always ordered Beef Shashlik whenever we visit. It sounded interesting : steak topped with foie gras
. I go weak in the knees when I see foie gras
on the menu, so I had to try it. It didn’t turn out the way I expected. I thought they would pan-sear the foie gras before serving but a thin sliver of foie gras was placed onto my steak. This dish was good but not as good as the Shashlik. It was served with sides of French fries, tomato and frozen vegetables. I hate frozen vegetables so I gave them away to CT.
Tournedos Rossini is a dish that was created by French Master Chef Antonin Careme. It was named after an Italian composer called Gioachino Rossini, a well-known composer in the 19th century with a great love for food. The dish comprises Beef Fillet, Foie Gras, Truffle [sometimes substitued with cepes aka porcini mushrooms] and a sauce made with beef reduction and Madeira [fortified wine from the Madeira Islands in Portugal]. This is such an ingenious dish as it combines a few of my favourite ingredients in a most exquisite fashion!
Side Dish : Fresh Mushrooms Sautéed in Butter @ S$4.50
Check out the old-school metal dish in which this side is served. It made me wonder if I had enlisted into the army by mistake but it was interesting indeed. Though this was a simple side dish, the mushrooms were excellent and the buttery sauce was richly gratifying.
The main courses come with a side of Russian Salad, which I didn’t like but CT loved so she took my portion too. It consisted of sliced onions, sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers and pickled cabbage.
Dessert : Banana Flambée @ S$7.00
We shared the dessert of Banana Flambée. It was prepared next to our table. I love the dramatic appeal of flambées! The dessert was too sweet for me and I didn’t like the sauce so I indulged in a cup of (Hainanese) black coffee instead.
Here’s a picture of Mr. Tan. He’s one of the few remaining pillars of this restaurant. CT and I recognized him but had never dared to speak to him (beyond placing our orders) in all these years. We mustered up the courage to tell him that we’ve recognized him from our previous visits. He was surprisingly friendlier than he looked and spoke to us in a fatherly manner. I guess we have to look past the grouchy exterior to discover the jewel inside.
545 Orchard Road,
#06-19 Far East Shopping Centre,
Telephone: 6732-6401 / 6734-3090
Daily: 12pm to 3pm (Lunch) & 6.30pm to 10.30pm (Dinner)
PS: The place is very dark so it was very difficult for me to get good shots of the food with my little point & shoot.