by David Nguyen
スラヴ料理 カフェアリョンカ (Slavic Cuisine Alyonka)
There's a new Slavic restaurant in Sendai and it's called Cafe Alyonka. The restaurant serves food from not only Russia, but also from neighboring Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, and many other cuisines from the former Soviet Union. This is perhaps the only place in Sendai where you can find such a wide variety of food from the region.
The owner of Alyonka, Mr. Iwamatsu, has spent a considerable amount of time in Belarus, which he considers his second home. As a result, Mr. Iwamatsu is quite fluent in speaking Russian, Belarusian, and English in addition to Japanese. It was during his time in Belarus hat he learned how to cook a variety of Slavic cuisines.
Alyonka offers two menus, a lunch menu that is limited to two or three sets that change daily, and a dinner menu that is much broader. The dinner menu (above) consists of a variety of food found throughout the former Soviet Union. This includes pelmeni (a dumpling similar to Chinese/Japanese shumai or Nepalese momo), golubtsi (Ukrainian cabbage and meat roll), shashlik (chicken kebab), and Borsch (tomato and beet stew). In addition to the dinner menu is a special menu that changes every week, for example beef stroganoff. Most of the dishes are between 600-1000 yen.
Sour cream to Slavic food is like kimchi to Korean food or miso and soy to Japanese food. It serves as the core for many of the dishes served, and Mr. Iwamatsu prides himself in his home made sour cream. The pelmeni for example (pictured above), is topped with sour cream, which sets it apart from dumplings from other parts of the world. In addition, many of the ingredients are home grown as they are difficult to import. This gives the food a fresh and unique taste.
For those who want to drink, Alyonka's got you covered with a wide selection of alcohol from the former Soviet Union such as wine from Georgia, Russian Vodka, and beer.
Alyonka is located on Bansui Street (Bansui Dori), about a five to seven minute walk from either Aobadori-ichibancho station or Omachi Nishi-Koen station on the Sendai Subway Tozai Line. For those familiar with the area, it is near the famous ramen restaurant, Ippudo. Simply go north and look for a tall grey building called Arusu Omachi (アルス大町). You should find a small Alyonka sign. From there enter the building and the entrance to the restaurant will be on your left.
Lunch 12:00 to 14:00
Dinner: 18:00 to 22:00
(Note: It is best to contact them in advance as seating is limited and can quickly become crowded, especially during dinner time)
Aoba-ku Omachi 2-6-26 Arusu Omachi 1F
Sendai, Miyagi 980-0804