by Ashley Roe
– The Capitol Hill Times –
The Capitol Hill crowd will soon be able to try the cuisines of the former Soviet Republic, when Vostok Dumpling House opens in the Harvard Market shopping center, next to Marination Station.
“Vostok means ‘east’ in Russian,” said directing manager Andrey Tokar. “I wanted the name to reflect the idea behind the restaurant, which is the Soviet Union in the 1970s.”
Tokar, who teamed up with Head Chef Anna Mosto, plans to open this duo’s first restaurant venture on May 3.
When scouring the Hill for competition, Tokar and Mosto didn’t find much Russia presence in the food scene, except for Piroshky Piroshky at Pike Place Market, and Piroshki on Madison.
“The design of Vostok Dumpling House has a very commonplace Soviet look, and the food has a Russian influx to it, which I haven’t been able to find anywhere else,” Tokar said.
The interior of the 25-seater will have an industrial Soviet look, mixed with modern Seattle pieces.
“The 1970s soviet feel will portray the creativity that the people were able to express under the communist regime,” Tokar said.
Industrial-style lighting, and table legs made of metal pipes are just a few of the small details that will bring the vision together.
“One of the walls, where the tables are going to be placed, is going to be covered from floor to ceiling with a marble called Forest Brown,” Tokar said. “It has a really rough, intense look to it.”
Since Tokar was born and raised in Ukraine, he wanted the menu to express some of the foods that he grew up eating.
“Full-portion and half-portion bowls of dumplings to accommodate different appetites will start from $6 and $7, and go up to $12,” Tokar said.
The hearty pelmeni dish, a meat-filled dumpling that resembles ravioli, can be filled with a variety of meats, and topped with sauce. Vostok Dumpling House will offer pork, chicken, beef, as well as the occasional rotating meat for customers to choose from.
“Pelmeni came out of Siberia, as a dish that hunters use to take on their long trips. But it’s extremely popular in a lot of the former Soviet republics,” Tokar said.
The Ukrainian vareniki, very similar to a Polish pierogi, is another dumpling option that is perfect for vegetarians.
“Vostok Dumpling House will offer a potato and cheese stuffing for people who do not want to touch meat, as well as sauerkraut and sweet onion stuffing,” Tokar said.
A rotating soup menu will dig up recipes from the 15 Soviet republics, a melting pot of a variety of different cultures.
“The choices will range from the typical Russian red borscht to some kind of exotic Uzbek soup,” Tokar said.
Desserts like Babushkas apple pie—apple pie filling inside of a dumpling with sweet caramel sauce—will satisfy those sweet tooth cravings.
A beverage menu, which is heavily focused on beer, proves to be the ideal drink to compliment the dumplings.
Pints will range from $4.75-$5.50, depending on the beer.
“We’re also bringing in Oktoberfest steins to serve out of, so we’ll have half-liter and full-liter steins, as well,” Tokar said.
The microbrew tap will hold Manny’s Pale Ale, Northwest Brewing Company’s Mango Weizen, plus Kölsch and Troll Porter from Hale’s Pale Ales.
“We’ll have a bottle selection of some lesser-known Eastern European beers, like Russian Balika and Ukranian Opal One, plus some smaller less-known companies from around the Northwest.”
Tokar is excited to share these Russian foods with the Capitol Hill community.
“Capitol Hill has this reputation of being diverse and accepting of everything, so I think that this will be a great starting ground for a venture like Vostok Dumpling House,” Tokar said. “There is a large variety of Latin American and Asian cuisines in this area, but there isn’t a lot to choose from when it comes to Eastern European foods.”
And with Vostok Dumpling House, Tokar believes that these Russian foods could gain great popularity in Seattle.
“With the success that this type of food has had back in Russian, if it’s presented properly to the people of Seattle, [Seattleites] will love it just as much, if not more,” Tokar said.