Category: International / French & Chinese
Our friend is an ardent food lover and has dined at countless renowned restaurants around the world, so we left the meal arrangements to him. The Turandot restaurant was scheduled for dinner on a Tuesday evening, which I didn’t know much about then, except that it was on the list of Top 10 restaurants in Moscow. Galya, who resides in Moscow city itself, told me that the restaurant next to that, Кафе Пушкинъ (Cafe Pushkin), was good and famous as well, but for classic Russian food.
Tverskoy bulvar, 26А, Moscow, Russia
The street on which Turandot sits isn’t hard to find. It’s a short left onto a busy side street just off the main Tverskaya street. We did, however, miss the restaurant, walking back and forth a few times whilst checking Google maps. The sign was so inconspicuous – Just the word Турандот etched into a piece of smooth grey stone fixed into the column to the left of the entrance. To get to Турандот from the main street, you’d have to walk by Pushkin first, so start staring at the walls after Pushkin ends and you should have no problem at all.
Dining at Турандот is by no means a simple affair, but if you’re willing to spend about $80 per head for the full suite, by all means, dine at Турандот. Price really varies depending on what you order, because there are some more expensive options which are around the 3000RUB mark ($60).
To go: Yes, if you want to feel like royalty and want something different from Russian food 🙂
The food is mostly good but fades in comparison with the ambience of Турандот. Dining in such an impressive hall is an experience in itself, and you feel it right when you walk through the doors, with gold featuring heavily in the decor. They serve a variety of things from Tuna tar-tar with caviar to Dim Sum, although I was still pleasantly surprised to find Fried Rice Vermicelli Singapore style in the menu.
A MORE DETAILED RECOUNT
We’d just wrapped up tea at GUM and began our walk towards Турандот, which took longer than expected; around 25 – 30 minutes. At this time of the Year, in mid October, Moscow was having an international festival called Circle of Light. As we walked along the street, there were all sorts of activities and displays – children running around a swirling globe of light in the field across the street, while adults stood staring at visual art casted in light onto the buildings to our right.
When we finally found Турандот and went inside, we were greeted by well-dressed staff at the reception and our coats were taken by a liveried footman, who in return, gave us the most opulent coat tags ever – weighty blocks of gold-brushed metal in a complex old-european design, with a number on the reverse.
We were led down a short flight of steps and into a large circular room which looked to be a lounge complete with a white grand piano, then guided out left and up a flight of stairs with the most ornate handrails. It was easy to see how the design and decor set its owners back around US$50 million, to earn the title of most expensive restaurant in Moscow. It was hard to believe that what looked like a royal residence akin to Château de Versailles of Paris or the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, was entirely constructed to just to house Турандот.
We dined on the upper floor, right under this beautiful dome – billowy white clouds on a sky blue canvas, the rims of the dome covered in intricate gold detail, with cherubs in various poses holding instruments as if in a serenade – amidst the soft, polite chatter of guests and the waitresses carrying golden trays wearing shoes which, speaking of extravagance, I’m told are made by the very same people responsible for the footwear of the Bolshoi ballerinas.
The dim sum and peking duck we ordered to share was surprisingly quite authentic. The Grilled chicken with morel mushrooms, chanterelle and mashed potatoes which my companion ordered was a pretty hearty portion. The mash was especially good – creamy, and heavily scented with truffle which is undoubtedly, my favourite kind of mash.
I had the Roe deer marinated in red wine served with cloudberries, which turned out to be quite different from what I’d imagined. The deer was encrusted on the top with sort of a crumb casing, but this wasn’t very crisp, I think partly because of the sauce from the meat. The deer itself was tender and juicy, and the red wine marination brought out its meatier notes. The cloudberries were… for lack of a better word, interesting. I’d never tasted cloudberries before, and they sound like something that could’ve been made up. In the mouth, they were like clusters of little seeds surrounded by mild-tasting and firm fruit.
We ended the meal with some milk flower and violet ice cream. Personally, I preferred the milk flower, which tasted creamy, milky and sweet. The best part of it all being the floral notes which felt like I was tasting a beautiful garden. It reminded me of the best floral-flavoured gelati I’d had in Rome, where I’d stood at the counter staring at dozens of the loveliest sounding ice-creams from sicilian wine cream to Garden sage and raspberry, and I wondered about when the next time might be that I should return to Italy.