Dear working executives, do you wish your workspace was a little bit more like home?
Dacha, a Ukrainian restaurant specialising in authentic Eastern European flavours, seems to grasp that concept very well. 'We usually spend most of the time at the restaurant, so it only makes sense that we make our work environment as homey as possible,' said Olena, one of the founders of Dacha.
Homey vibes were felt from the moment we walked in, leaving Hong Kong at the doorstep. Dacha's walls are dressed in dainty floral wallpaper, family portraits of various generations are hung throughout and even more personal artefacts, such as Olena’s grandfather’s home carpet and her sister’s delicately hand-stitched artwork, can be found in various corners of the restaurant. With oldies music playing in the background, I felt like I was having tea at my non-existent English gramp’s place. We hadn’t even tasted the food, and gosh, we were already in love with the place.
It's not surprising that the food served is all based on family recipes, with Olena’s sister the head chef. Kick-starting our meal was homemade bread with a special spread. Although the bread was dense and dry, the fatty paste of lard and garlic was an interesting alternative to the conventional butter.
It’s not an Eastern European meal without pierogi. We got our hands on some Siberian pelmeni, which are traditional handmade Russian dumplings in light herb butter. The juicy filling was well complemented with fresh sour cream on the side.
Another appetiser we adored with Dacha’s Ukraine-flown sour cream were these crispy potato pancakes topped with home-cured smoked salmon.
This deceiving, colourful-looking parfait stopped us in our tracks – hey, it couldn't be dessert already, right? This shuba salad when translated into English was a cutely termed Herring under a Fur Coat. We had to dig through the layers of egg crumbs, potato, carrot and beetroot before we reached the salty Baltic herring chunks. This strategic combination of sweet vegetable layers and salty fish easily made this dish one of the best of the afternoon.
There's nothing like a hot stew to warm us up on a chilly afternoon. Dacha's traditional borscht was light yet so flavourful from the natural sweetness of the beetroot. With no meat used, this would make a great stew for vegetarians.
Chicken Kiev, one of the restaurant's signature mains, converted a non-chicken-breast fan like me to, ‘Yesss, chicken breast!' The deep-fried cocoon was crispy on the outside and revealed a buttery, herby surprise inside, which got us craving for more of this juicy, tender chicken.
Desserts were savoury potato cheese pancakes called syrniki, topped with icing sugar and fresh fruits. Chomping down on this dessert reminded me of the beautiful potato pancake appetiser we had tried earlier on, which made me feel that these pancakes were better off in a savoury setting rather than sweet.
Honey napoleon cake, made with layers of fresh cream and home-grown honey, ended our meal on a sweet note, coupled with a cup of hot Ukrainian coffee.
I have never felt more at home at a restaurant than I did at Dacha.
38–40 Hollywood Road, Central, 2420 3555
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation.