Don’t be Chicken
Chicken Kyiv is a must for anyone visiting or living in this city. Though not a traditional Ukrainian dish (it was created by French chefs working in Russia for the Tsar and was originally called “côtelette de volaille”), it has become a culinary gem that is celebrated in Ukraine and, of course, bears the name of its capital – Kyiv
These days, you are spoiled for choice in Kyiv where gastronomy is concerned. No longer just a former Soviet state where the stolovaya is the place to have your snidanok, restaurants and cafes are aplenty. Not in the mood for sushi? Khachapuri no longer the go-to? Perhaps it’s time to return to a favourite – Chicken Kyiv. We’ve roamed the city to give you a taste of this French turned Ukrainian favourite from a variety of venues. The results may surprise…
Nestled a few minutes away from Khreschatyk, Chicken Kyiv seemed a logical first choice to start our search. Upon arrival, there are plenty of locals enjoying their meals (including chicken Kyiv, naturally). I’m provided a bilingual non-befuddling menu with prices in both UAH and Euro. I opt for Chicken Kyiv right away.
The server is friendly and responds in English. While anticipating the meal, there’s plenty to enjoy about this place – from its free Wi-Fi to the exquisite state-of-the-art interior design. After just 10 minutes, the meal is ready.
Served on a beautiful blue plate, the chicken rests on mashed potatoes with truffles, next to some fried vegetables. The second I bite into the chicken, it unveils the unique taste of the fillet and the crumb, but unfortunately not the signature gourmet filling inside. I cannot help but notice that the meat is a bit dry and the crumb slightly too crispy, although this is somewhat redeemed by the extras on the plate.
Price-wise, it’s certainly reasonable – the bill comes to a moderate 129 UAH.
Next, I wander over to Puzata Hata with mixed feelings; it is a contrast to my previous experience in every possible way.The famous buffet-style restaurant chain with locations across Ukraine offers a wide range of dishes. But you’ll have to guess what you’re eating, because there’s neither an English menu nor an English-speaking member of staff in sight. However, if you ask them in English, they seem to understand, and disappear to fetch your order without a word.
You get exactly what you ask for – this simplicity surprises me every time I go to Puzata Hata. I ask for Chicken Kyiv, and I get chicken Kyiv: a solitary yellow cutlet lying on a plate. Its taste does bear some resemblance to the dish as it ought to be: the meat is nice and juicy, but the crust is too thick and the gourmet filling consists mainly of butter. The most notable thing about this fast food giant is its interior – it features some very interesting traditional décor and looks pretty authentic, which enhances the dining experience.
The dish itself costs 40 UAH – which makes this an affordable contestant.
The most luxurious experience, however, is to be found at the Caribbean Club. This club, which doubles as a concert hall, has been a Kyiv institution for 21 years. I am welcomed by a hostess who checks my reservation, before a friendly server shows me to my table. The moment I open the menu, I’m pleasantly surprised by the array of cuisines on offer, from traditional Ukrainian borscht to numerous styles of sushi. This all comes at a cost, of course, so bringing a thick wallet is recommended (even compulsory).
The service is quick here too – my chicken is on its way within 10 minutes. This alluringly presented dish includes chicken, cherrytomatoes, mashed potatoes and a delicious mushroom sauce, while the chicken itself is served on two slices of toast.
It tastes outstanding: the meat is juicy, the crumb crispy, and the filling adds a certain je ne sais quoi. With the addition of the mushroom sauce, it is a gastronomical delight. While you eat, there’s plenty to enjoy about the place, from its atmosphere to its design, not to mention the live performances. There are also lavishly decorated VIP lounges.
Therefore, for the price (369 UAH), you get a lot more than just a great Chicken Kyiv.
The WO Checklist
English menu ✔︎
English-speaking staff ✔︎
English menu ✘
English-speaking staff ✘
English menu ✔︎
English-speaking staff ✔︎