Russia Winter Tour 2014 (9/10) – Vladivostok

The check-in in the hotel was a bit chaotic but we finally got a 5 bedder with a bathroom. After all of us were showered and perfumed we could satisfy our next most urgent need: food. Being so close to Japan, the most natural thing to eat was sushi. Tochka Sushi looked too fancy for our budget but we decided it was okay to splurge after enduring the big train ride.

Tochka Sushi

Most of us started with a seafood soup with prawn, salmon, scallop and seaweed. The only one that didn’t feel like soup had a salmon salad instead.

Seafood soup

Salmon salad

We had mixed sashimi with salmon, tuna, prawns, scallops, squid, kingfish, etc., and a mixed sushi with salmon, tuna, eel, etc. Both were super fresh and very, very tasty. A single octopus nigiri was also ordered. Including drinks (a couple of beers, a Coke, bottled water, lemonade and a pot of green tea), we spent R966 (about $30.34) per person. Not cheap but not outrageously expensive for the quality.

Sashimi

Sushi

Octopus nigiri

We stopped at a cafe for a coffee. My americano costed R90 (about $2.83). Then we headed to the venue, for the start of the 5-day course on conscious dying (Phowa).

Phowa course

After the first session we went for a walk in the city. After the evening session I bought a meal (chicken and mash) from the sangha cafeteria, which was as well-stocked as the one in Tomsk.

Chicken and mash (R100, about $3.14)

That night we went to a pub to celebrate a birthday. By then we had already noticed that prices in Vladivostok were more expensive than in the smaller cities, similar to Moscow’s. For instance, a glass of red wine costed me R350 (about $10.99).

06 Feb 2014

My breakfast was instant coffee. Sad, I know. Diego and I had lunch at a canteen in the Clover House shopping centre. The dishes looked more “international” than those in canteens in the other cities we visited.

Shopping centre canteen

I had two salads (one with cos lettuce, cherry tomatoes, beetroot, quail egg and Russian dressing, other with seaweed, calamari, carrots and oil, plus a chicken thigh and a beef stew with potato. Everything was tasty, but the beef was not very tender.

Lunch in shopping centre canteen (R327.50, about $10.29)

After the second session of the day I bought dinner from the sangha cafeteria: salmon in “marinade” (a tomato, onion, pepper and oil sauce). I also had some raw hazelnuts and almonds that I bought at the supermarket super cheap.

Salmon in marinade

That night we went to the Vladivostok Buddhist centre, the best of the 85 centres our school has in Russia. They were selling some nibbles and drinks; we ate some devilled eggs with caviar, olives and crudités.

07 Feb 2014

I improved my sad breakfast of instant coffee by adding some coconut oil to it. After the first session of the day we went to a nearby Chinese restaurant called Harbin. It had tablecloths and proper napkins, a small dance floor, a white screen for karaoke and neon lighting. Most importantly, it had a menu with pictures and a waitress that spoke some English.

Restaurant Harbin

We ordered three plates to share. First, a broccoli salad with onions and tomatoes that was strangely garnished with olives, and sliced cucumber and orange. Perhaps not the best combination in the world, but the fresh fruit was certainly very welcome.

Broccoli salad (R290, about $9.11)

Then came the fried rice, a Westernized version with corn kernels and sliced frankfurters. Not very authentic, but tasty.

Fried rice (R280, about $8.80)

Finally, the meat. We ordered what looked like roasted duck in the photo but we were told it was goose. Sadly, the bird wasn’t roasted, but had been fried in months-old oil, and burnt in some parts.

Goose (R950, about $29.84)

It was an expensive lunch and I learned my lesson: Vladivostok is great for Japanese food but not Chinese.

After the second session for the day I went for a walk by the sea and then came back to the hall for dinner. I had leftover tinned fish and nori plus a very nice beetroot, walnut, prune and mayo salad I bought from the sangha cafeteria.

Nori, tinned fish, beetroot salad (R60, about $1.88)

08 Feb 2014

I was a bit sick and feeling like soup for breakfast. I stopped on my way to the course venue at a canteen.

Canteen Stolovaya No. 1

I had a bowl of borsh and a couple of boiled eggs. Not gourmet, I know, but exactly what I needed.

Soup (R44, about $1.38), boiled eggs (R18, about $0.57 each)

That afternoon we went for a walk via a pedestrian street to look for a place to have lunch. The street was full of food stands, including burritos, blinis (pancakes) and charcuterie.

Food stands

We didn’t find the cafes that were recommended in our program but a turn into a side street revealed the unexpected: a kebab shop.

We stepped in and fell in love with the place. It had the same eclectic vibe than most Sydney cool cafes, and the owner spoke enough English to help us with our order.

There were handy photos of the items of the menu with prices. There was a plate of meat with salad and a dollop of yoghurt, which the owner explained contained chicken mixed with bread. I asked if he could skip the bread for me and he was happy to do so. The chicken was covered in a tasty tomato paste-based sauce.

Chicken, salad, yoghurt (R170, about $5.29)

I also ordered a soup, which had potato, meat, tomato, rice, parsley and dill. It was delicious.

Soup (R100, about $3.11)

The boys ordered kebabs and mentioned that the wrap and veggies were not soggy and the kebabs were great.

Kebab (R150, about $4.67)

On our way back to the course venue we discovered a street market. Sadly, we couldn’t buy anything because it was our last full day in Vladivostok.

Post-afternoon session I bought dinner from the sangha cafeteria: calamari with mayonnaise and a cooked veggie salad with beetroot, potato, peas and carrots. Very tasty and super cheap.

Calamari with mayo (R100, about $3.11), cooked vegetables (R50, about $1.56)

09 Feb 2014

My last breakfast in Russia was hazelnuts, almonds and jerky, my version of the Charles Poliquin’s meat and nuts breakfast, plus a detox tea.

Vitamins, detox tea, jerky, nuts

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