From Russia with love

The burgers are good but Straits Times correspondent David Lee also tries a horse-meat kolbasa sandwich offered by Luda and Katia from Tula. Shashlik – skewered, grilled meat – was a hit with the writer. The My-My stolovaya is a Soviet-style canteen that
The burgers are good but Straits Times correspondent David Lee also tries a horse-meat kolbasa sandwich offered by Luda and Katia from Tula. Shashlik – skewered, grilled meat – was a hit with the writer. The My-My stolovaya is a Soviet-style canteen that serves a variety of food, much like Singapore’s economic rice stalls. ST PHOTOS: DAVID LEE
The burgers are good but Straits Times correspondent David Lee also tries a horse-meat kolbasa sandwich offered by Luda and Katia from Tula. Shashlik – skewered, grilled meat – was a hit with the writer. The My-My stolovaya is a Soviet-style canteen that
The burgers are good but Straits Times correspondent David Lee also tries a horse-meat kolbasa sandwich offered by Luda and Katia from Tula. Shashlik – skewered, grilled meat – was a hit with the writer. The My-My stolovaya is a Soviet-style canteen that serves a variety of food, much like Singapore’s economic rice stalls.
The burgers are good but Straits Times correspondent David Lee also tries a horse-meat kolbasa sandwich offered by Luda and Katia from Tula. Shashlik – skewered, grilled meat – was a hit with the writer. The My-My stolovaya is a Soviet-style canteen that
The burgers are good but Straits Times correspondent David Lee also tries a horse-meat kolbasa sandwich offered by Luda and Katia from Tula. Shashlik – skewered, grilled meat – was a hit with the writer. The My-My stolovaya is a Soviet-style canteen that serves a variety of food, much like Singapore’s economic rice stalls.

Before I left home for the World Cup, I posted my first Instagram (@stdavidlee) story - a short clip of my neighbourhood kopitiam with all the local food that I would miss in my 38 days in Russia.

Travelling more than 8,400km from home to Moscow, the last thing I expected to find here was cai png (or economical rice).

So, imagine my excitement when I chanced upon the My-My (pronounced Mu-Mu) stolovaya near the Smolenskaya metro station.

Commonly found here, not only do these Soviet-style canteens offer authentic Russian food at an affordable price - each meal costs under $10 - it also reminded me of home, where you can just pick and choose which dish you want and pay at the end of the line.

There was even rice and beehoon, but that's where the similarities end.

Bread is an important part of Russian cuisine and the more common ones are darnitskiy (black bread, although it looks more grey), and the sour sweet stolichniy rye bread.

Other than the regular chicken, pork, beef and fish options which are priced by the 100g, there are also local delicacies such as the syrniki (cheese pancakes), and pelmeni dumplings, which are often washed down with a glass of kvass, a fermented drink made from rye bread. I took a sip, but alas, it reminded me of the traditional Chinese medicines of my childhood.

Fortunately, my experience with shashlik was far better. As a carnivore, this was my personal favourite, and I was particularly enticed by the fragrance of the grilled meat skewers. Biting into the perfectly marinated chunks of meat sent me to a happy place.

Of course there are the usual American fast-food chains McDonald's, KFC and Burger King.

And talking about Burger King, it was at the Domodedovo Airport outlet when Luda and Katia from Tula sat with me and offered me a horse-meat kolbasa sandwich which their friend from Sochi had made for them. It was salty and an acquired taste, but I made it a point to finish it, with a toast to my new friends.

As they say in Russia, na zdorov'je (let's eat and drink to our heart's content)!

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2018, with the headline 'From Russia with love'. Print Edition | Subscribe