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I'm from Russia, so I was hoping to have some nice Russian food in Harbin while I was visiting there last week. We found a place named "Tatos" in 127 Zhongyang Dajie. At first it seemed inviting as the decoration was nice, but when the food came, I was shocked. It's not Russian food at all, just some terrible chinese interpretation! The fish soup was made of milk with a few little pieces of fish floating in it (yuk!), the squid salad was tough, and the baked chicken leg was greasy and uneatable. It was one of the worst lunches I've ever had! So I tried to talk to the manager, an elderly grumpy-looking Chinese man. I explained to him that what we had wasn't Russian food, that we were completely unsatisfied, but all he could do is give us a 10% discount! It would never had happened in Shanghai where I live now as our restaurants' managers realize that reputation is priceless. So I promised the stubborn, rude man that I would write a review on his place and am doing it now. I highly DO NOT recommend this place to anyone who wants to have some decent Russian food in Harbin! Julia.
Updated Feb 8, 2011
Address: Harbin, 127 Zhongyang Dajie
Eclectic best describes this place. The walls are covered in pictures and Americana, It's hard to imagine how all this junk ended up in Harbin.
There are pictures on the wall of a local Chinese guy in various military uniforms. He is the owner. I especially like the one with him and a hot Russian girl who is wearing a naval uniform.
Favorite Dish: The coffee is so good when you are freezing from your walk down to the river.
Updated Mar 2, 2010
Address: 166 Central Street
Want to test some russian food in Harbin ? See the numerous tourist shops along Zhongyang pedestrian street bearing, some of theme bearing a "Russian products" sign. Russian products inside : kind of airport duty free stuff, but 10 times the price you would pay in Lenin's country... Russian food at Russia Cafe ? How to express it ?...
The messy room is crowded with chinese tourists. The kind of folks who want to thrill themselves with the ultimate dining experience in Harbin. The food itself looks like those served in russian hotels before the Perestroïka times... Maybe not good enough to fill up the tigers at Harbin zoological park, so they have created this fake russian cafe as an extension of the zoo. The staff also will indulge the customer with post-revolution care and warmness. Dirty green tableclothes (maybe so many customers are vomitting their dinner that they do not hvae time enough to clean it) are the perfect match to stomach pain this Russian Cafe will leave to your memory !
Favorite Dish: Try the special Bortsh : a kind of soup made with the garbage of the week, the unique smell reminds us a mix of putrid onions and durian. For the adventurers, have a bite in the russian sausage ; they get it twice a month from a siberian kolkhoze. What a delight, is'nt it ?
If you have late dinner at Russian Cafe, be sure that your hotel has a proper room service : the best meal you will get would probably be that one !
Written Jan 30, 2009
Address: Zhongyang da jie (pedestrian street)
It looks a bit Japanese from the outside, but it's not. A bit cramped, the interior decor is interesting, but it's the same old Chinese food- way too salty, way too much MSG, way too much grease. I nearly threw up after eating the "spicy stir-fried shrimp" or whatever it was called. About 12 shrimp placed in a circle around a bed of who knows what- deep fried salt/MSG, probably. Anyway, the noodle dish wasn't too bad, but I can't say I recommend the place. They do, however, serve Dim Sum-style things, which might have been much better, so I'll reserve judgement for now.
Written Apr 7, 2008
Many cities in China and around the world are made even better by easy access to all sorts of good, unhealthy street fare. Vendors behind questionably clean carts are just not as common in Harbin, which doesn't help the already dull culinary beat of this northern city. There are a few places, the vendors who gather outside the Carrefour on Heping Lu, and there are a few who sell you a hot sweet potato and popcorn, cotton candy or corn... maybe it's just too cold here, though the fruit and random item vendors still remain.
In any case, Harbin isn't the most inspiring city when it comes to food. And I maintain that in part that is due to a lack of vendors lining the center street, offering something unnecessary-yet-essential to the traveler and local alike.
Written Feb 27, 2008
The restaurant has been chosen one of the top 50 restaurants is HeiLongJiang Province. Here you can taste real north-east China food. And this restaurant is also quite well-kwon in Harbin, you can simply tell the taxi driver the name of it.
Favorite Dish: Of course the pork bone. Using a straw to suck the juice inside the bone. Yammy!! Originally I tought it might be fleshy, but it really is a nice dish.
There is one little incident before I had my supper -- I arrived at the restaurant a quarter earilier than my companies. So I ask what to eat at this restaurant?! The waitress answered immediately," pork bone."
Updated Jan 21, 2008
Address: No.252 Zhong Shan Rd
Phone: +86 451 82605558
Well, I don't know what's California or U.S.A. about this place. There are lots of these restaurants all around the city. The food is simple, cheap and greasy.
One of the dished we had was a sweet red sauce (in oil) on red meat and fat and a white sauce on chicken and fat (in oil) with onions. Aside from the health issues, it was good.
We also ordered the soup that seemed to be standard there, which was plain with not much to recommend it, and only a little bit of meat with the noodles.
Still, I'd recommend the place just for the experience of eating at a place called, "California Beef Noodle King U.S.A.
Written Oct 26, 2007
Russia Coffee and Food is a cozy Russian tea house and restaurant along the pedestrian street in the city center that is quite good although it seems to be run by local Chinese. They are very hospitable and do a good job cooking, except that I believe the real Russian food would be a lot greasier. I have no complaints!
It's well worth a stop by this place, if not for lunch or dinner, than simply for a bit of tea on a cold day. It's right around the corner from the KFC.
The decor could be called kitschy, depending on where you look. In the front window, there are old and odd items that seem somewhat out of place and bizzare anywhere you find them. The other parts of the restaurant have photographs, old cameras and more interesting items. It's a bit of a trip back in history.
Favorite Dish: The second time we ate here, we had a good curry. The pepper mashed potatos are good on a cold day. The staff is friendly, which always helps make for a good experience, and I highly recommend the place.
Updated Oct 23, 2007
Mayonnaise on an Italian Sausage pizza? At Portman's they serve many "western" style dishes. Some have extensive artistic license taken, but they end up being quite good. Maybe it's the Russian influence. We had coffee at Portman's one night, the house blend, served in an unique test-tube-holder-like-device.
They have what seems like a fairly full bar, though I don't know what drinks the bartenders know.
They have an extensive menu, but here are some items with prices if I remember them...
Black caviar, 168 RMB
Red caviar, 48 RMB
Yellow salad... crumbled egg yolk and mayonnaise over cold meat strips.
Russian red soup
Butter (you pay extra for the butter... 3 RMB)
American-style roast pork ribs(?)
Other western-style meats
Overall, it's a nice place with live entertainment on some nights (or at least earlier in the evenings). Just don't try to take photos of the performers.
Favorite Dish: The pizza wasn't a western pizza. I'd say it was more of a white pizza, but it doesn't fit that mold either. They're somewhat unique.
The other dishes, as I said above, seem to take their own interpretation of western dishes. It makes the food interesting. Not bad, just interesting.
Written Oct 23, 2007
Address: Center Street
The west has seen a decrease in the use of MSG, or at least a euphemization of MSG. Chinese restaurants worth their pound (or two) of salt have signs declaring, "No MSG."
Not so here. So far, many of the meals I've eaten out have been laden with MSG.
Am I saying Chinese food i s bad and not to eat it? Of course not. Simply watch out for MSG, as, from my experience with it so far, based on a western stomach, it is used in such quantities that it can give you the runs, fast. And that's not something you need to deal with traveling.
Simply ask them to leave it out, or avoid saucy foods. The food quite good enough on its own, so it doesn't need MSG!
I don't know how common MSG use is, but from the pallet loads in the local Carrefour...
Updated Oct 14, 2007
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