We won’t lie—we’re not fans of Russian food. Not normally, anyway. In fact, our love for Russia primarily extends itself to one thing: Vodka. However, our desire for something less run-of-the-mill in the homogenized dining climate of Singapore prompted us to pay Buyan a visit one weeknight.
Occupying two shophouses in Singapore's hotspot of the moment, Duxton Hill, you’ve got a choice to sit upstairs in the dining rooms (where you’ll find the requisite red and gold color scheme) or spare yourself the climb by sticking with the bar area. We opted to dine downstairs, since the copious amounts of dark wood, much more subtle hints of red and gold, and very welcome dim lighting was much more low-key and laidback.
As we scrolled through the iPad menus (seriously; dishes have detailed descriptions and photos of the food), the helpful wait staff offered a few suggestions. The khachapuri ($10), a flat, slightly crisp Georgian bread filled with melted goat’s cheese, proved to be a winner. We couldn’t imagine a better way to start our meal, or a better bar snack in between shots of vodka. Our crock of piping hot, deep red borscht ($12) was another worthy highlight. The balance of sweet and savory flavors was spot on, the bits of beef and julienned beetroot gave it texture, and it almost didn’t need the sour cream. Even the chicken kiev ($18), which we expected to be heavy and bland, turned out to be a triumph. It was surprisingly light, despite being breaded then fried to a golden crisp, and the meat inside was not the least bit dry or rubbery.
In all honesty, we could probably have done without the blinis ($12) and condiments of mixed berry jam, condensed milk and sour cream which, while thoroughly pleasant, were nothing to shout about. Our advice: Nab a table downstairs. Even if the date’s a dud, at least the food’s different, the service competent and most importantly, there’s a selection of over 50 vodkas that’s hard to resist.
Have you tried the Chicken Kiev? It's one of I-S Magazine's 50 things to eat in Singapore before you die (2011).