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Wandering around the streets on my first night in the Ukraine, I had no idea where to eat, or even what genuine Ukrainian food would be. I’m quite happy that I stumbled upon Mafia, a fancy, family restaurant serving just about everything, although not exactly authentic Ukrainian fare.
What drew me to the restaurant was seeing that Mafia had a great sushi selection on their menu, along with everything else. There were pizzas and pasta, hamburgers and roasts, Ukrainian dishes and lots and lots of drinks. What I wasn’t expecting were the proportions, and the prices they charged.
Take the pizzas for example. Instead of your usual personal or medium-sized pizzas, Mafia serves a meter-long pizza – for as little as $7.50. That same size pizza would cost a small fortune in many of the countries I’ve been to. It quickly became evident that the Ukraine was one of the cheapest countries I’d traveled to, perhaps second only to Albania.
Sushi is one of Ukrainians favorite food. Mine too, which is why I was so happy to see it in almost every restaurant I went to in the Ukraine, regardless of their cuisine. Surprisingly, the sushi was actually really good, but the best part was the price. 48 pieces of sushi (not that I could ever eat that much by myself) was $10! That’s even better than Thailand when it comes to quality pieces. Getting that many rolls (half the size, mind you) at a night market stall in Thailand would still cost $6, and the quality wouldn’t come close.
Mafia’s menu is several pages long, which is not exactly what I’m looking for when I go to a restaurant. That’s because it takes me literally forever to decide what I want. After minutes poring over the pages, and sneaking glances to see what other people in the restaurant were eating, I finally decided on a plate of pasta carbonara and two sushi dishes. Yeah, these are Italian and Japanese, but that’s a lot of what you find in the Ukraine.
Sure, it wasn’t the best food I’ve had in the world, but it was still really good. The same could be said about the rest of the restaurants I ate at in the Ukraine over the next several days. Whether it was pizzas at the Venezia Pizzaria with Scott Paton for $5, a massive Italian sandwich (reminiscent of Al Antico in Florence) from Gorbushka gastrobar at the Arcadia promenade for $2.50, or a surprisingly good fish and chips dinner at Druzy Cafe in Kiev for $3.50, I certainly couldn’t complain about any of it. The only question left is – when will I be back?