A couple weekends ago, while JM was here, I decided we should go to Brighton Beach – one of the largest Russian communities in the U.S. – to get a double dose of soup. Cafe Glechik and Cafe Kashkar were just a few blocks from each other, so the smartest thing to do was to stuff our faces at both places during this one trip. Brighton Beach is just not a weekend destination, unless it’s beach season.
I happened to be watching an Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations‘ episode on China while writing this and Tony, as I like to call him, declared: “There’s nowhere in the world [China’s] influence hasn’t spread. Even if you haven’t had Chinese food, you’ve had Chinese food.” I definitely felt a Chinese presence in each cafe’s kitchen that day.
And, with that, I’ll start with Cafe Glechik, a Russian-Ukrainian restaurant that had apparently been featured in the NYC episode of No Reservations a while ago. Watching this episode confirmed something else for me – when you get bad service, it’s not you. It’s the Russian I-don’t-really-care-about-you attitude. Just a little something to expect before going there. In any case…
That’s posted on the resto’s website, and they do serve a lot of things in the crocks that I associate with French Onion soup.
But our Chicken Soup with Mini Pelmini ($6) was served in a homey white bowl. Not sure if it would’ve been served in a crock if we didn’t share one order. What was clear was that one order for one person would’ve been more than enough as a meal.
The broth was clear, light and a little sour, and the generous amount of fresh dill kept it from being completely boring.
The mini pelmini were at first overshadowed by the gigantic spoon, but soon took the center of attention as each firm but chewy bite burst with flavor…just like a good piece of Bubblicious Burst gum. They tasted like home, and I was immediately transported to my family’s kitchen, where my mom, my grandmother and I would sit and make Chinese dumplings (jao zi) – the seemingly king-size versions of their Russian-Ukrainian counterpart.
But, as much as Cafe Glechik’s mini pelmini took me home, just as I wouldn’t go home just for my mom’s dumplings, I wouldn’t make a special trip just for the restaurant’s soup. I might, however, do it if I’m craving a really good full Russian meal.
3159 Coney Island Ave
(at Brighton Beach Ave)
Brooklyn, NY 11235