A cousin of Chinese jiaozi, Italian ravioli, Georgian khinkali, and Asian manti, pelmeni is widely favoured for what it is – a simple nourishing dish for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. Yet, you may be wrong in thinking you know everything about pelmeni. Gifted contemporary chefs have recently breathed new life into the classic recipe.
People who don’t like homemade pelmeni are few in number. This food is never out of season. Every family in Ukraine has their own preparation secrets passed from generation to generation. However, nowadays nobody has time to cook. A diner serving pelmeni with ‘the taste of home’ is a good alternative.
A few steps away from the Hedgehog Monument you’ll find Zamis, a brand-new restaurant launched last year on 22 December. Its name can be translated from Ukrainian as ‘dough kneading’, but also known in slang as ‘a situation as tough as dough’. Much more than just another snack-bar in downtown Kyiv, Zamis turns ordinary stuffed dumplings into masterpieces.
A Taste of Home
Located in the basement, Zamis has three dining halls decorated in Scandinavian-inspired fashion – clean lines combined with white walls, wood, and the odd splash of colour. Potted-plants on tables add warmth and character to the atmosphere. Like it or loathe it, this type of minimalist design is taking over the world based on the ‘less is more’ motto.
At 19.00, the restaurant is not crowded, since it is still operating in test mode. We make ourselves comfortable and start our dinner with a bowl of hot soup, to whet the appetite. The old-fashioned chicken broth is just the way our mums made it – light and healthy. The creamy red lentil soup is rich, thick, and packed with flavours.
For the main, we rely on the server who diligently goes through the menu offering eight types of pelmeni. Zamis offers a modern twist to well-known cuisine by using unique fillings, producing new taste and visual combinations. We order a set of various pelmeni to try them all. They come in different shapes and colours – white, yellow, red, green, and black. Yet, no artificial colouring agents are used. All the ingredients are 100% natural, using things like curcuma, tomatoes, and cuttlefish ink. The food presentation is impressive – forget about a dull Soviet-style “pelmennaya”. All the elements are excellently arranged and garnished on the plate.
Baked in Different Ovens
As the waitress puts the rainbow platter on the table, we set off on a gourmet journey. The white dumplings are traditionally filled with chicken, beef, or pork. The yellow pelmeni blends chicken, parmesan and basil, while the red ones are stuffed with shrimp and pork. The further we go, the more exciting our experiment gets. The first variant of green pelmeni has spinach, cheese, and nuts inside to provide a truly Italian flavour. The second variant combines neatly minced juicy lamb with fresh mint and cilantro. All the dumplings are great, with a tender texture and generous amount of stuffing.
Any type could become a favourite. However, we unanimously vote for the black delicacies with mussels, which have a strong seafood taste, creating a specific feeling for the palate. It is a dish for real connoisseurs.
To enjoy our feast even more, we choose certain dipping sauces for certain pelmeni, which is a sacred ritual. Apart from commonplace sour cream or vinegar, the list includes yoghurt with greens and pesto, soya, sea, and piquant satsebeli sauces.
Stay or Take Away to Go
The vital thing about Zamis is you can eat in or take-out – pelmeni (both cooked and frozen), soups, varenyky, pickles, and salads (Olivier and vinaigrette). Business people working nearby frequent the place for lunch but also grab something to take home on their way out. In future, the restaurant plans to expand its menu and introduce more distinctive breakfast and dinner solutions. Of course, some things still need improving, but it is a promising start with delectable prospects.
P.S. Zamis does not serve alcohol. However, uzvar and kompot (dry/fresh fruit drinks) as well as an assortment of sumptuous teas (ginger, sea buckthorn, currant) will definitely fill the gap.
Chicken broth (300ml) 20 UAH
Red lentil soup (300ml) 49 UAH
Pelmeni with mussels (250g) 89 UAH
Pelmeni with lamb and mint (250 g) 79 UAH
Pesto sauce (50g) 9 UAH
Sea sauce (50g) 9 UAH
Uzvar (330ml) 15 UAH
Tomato juice (200ml) 20 UAH
Ginger tea x2 (600ml) 80 UAH
TOTAL 370 UAH
Open: 10.00 – 21.00
+38 097 340 30 39
Make sure you try
Varenyky with cherries (250 g) 65 UAH
Varenyky with potatoes (250 g) 45 UAH
The What’s On Checklist
English Menu No (but to be launched)
English-speaking staff Yes
WO Rating 4 Star
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