A Russian restaurant on the island of Bali? You may think that’s odd considering the tropical climes of our island paradise, but it’s actually a shrewd china business idea. Bali has around 2,000 Russian expats, not to mention the thousands who come every year to vacation in upmarket areas such as Nusa Dua where Slavyanka is conveniently located.
Nestled in Bali Collection, an open-air complex of restaurants, cafes and retail outlets, Slavyanka was the first Russian restaurant to be opened in Indonesia and is definitely out of the ordinary. Owner, Vedanta Wijaya originally ran a travel agents which catered for Russian tourists travelling to Bali. He told me that this tourist exodus started around ten years ago, several years after the USSR dismantled and businesses were privatised, “allowing people the wealth to travel and although not originally in large numbers, it was quality rather than quantity.” December to March are the busiest months for Slavyanka as Russian tourists flock to Bali on the four flights a week available from Moscow.
During the peak seasons at Slavyanka, the kitchen can churn out 400 servings of traditional Russian soup of beetroot, cabbage, carrot and pork (Borscht) and 50 kg of dumplings (Pelneni) a day. These two dishes are favourites here, with 95% of customers being from Russia, and the remaining 5% Australian, Japanese and Indonesian. This was my first authentic Russian culinary experience and we sampled enough to get an idea of what Russian cuisine is all about.
To start, we tried the Polevoy Salad, a refreshing and healthy start to a meal, along with a Vinegret Salad, a purple mix of boiled beets, potatoes, carrots, pickles, onions and sauerkraut. Then we got heavier with Borscht, a hearty soup originally from the Ukraine containing beets and pork, followed by dumplings served with sour cream — Vareniki (dumplings filled with potato) and Pelneni (dumplings filled with meat). Rich and dangerous for the waistline, but tasty all the same. Then we sampled Sashlik, grilled skewers of pork, beef or lamb meat.
And what do most punters drink at Slavyanka? Vodka, and lots of it apparently. “Some of our guests will sit outside on the patio during the day, have a beer and drink vodka while reading the paper,” Vedanta tells me. The most popular brand being Smirnoff as import duties make the price of Russian vodka too expensive for anyone’s liking. Wines, beers and non-alcoholic drinks are of course also available at reasonable prices.
If you have Russian clients visiting, or you’re keen to try something different, definitely take a trip to Slavyanka. The décor in itself is enough to entertain — Tsars in gold frames decorate the walls, a decadent chandelier welcomes you upon entry, and red curtains swoop down around you and the jet-black floors. Food is authentic as is the company – Russian diners will surround you. Na zda rov ye!
Bali Collection Block A3 9-10-11, Nusa Dua
Phone: +62 361 770 225