Sunday, January 17, 2010

Smokin' Good Fish at Dacha

The only time I visited Russia and the Ukraine was back in the old Soviet days. Everything was heavily regulated, including where student tourist types like myself could go and what we could eat, which consisted mostly of cucumbers, borscht, sour cream (in a jar, to be eaten with a spoon) and the occasional really good, home cooked meal in the more remote areas of the Ukraine.

Dacha, in the San Fernando Valley, offers much more and without the Party propaganda of old. Located on Laurel Canyon, all of the seating is indoor/outdoor, in an enclosed but open to the outside patio-type set up.

Dacha has a sizable menu, but as in the Soviet days, not everything is always available. My advice would be to get the cold fish appetizers, and lots of them. The herring is delightfully pickled, less salty than typical and with lots of sour, fishy goodness. The smoked fish plate comes with salmon, sturgeon and sea bass; all three of these were great, but I especially liked the deep smoke that permeated the sea bass.

Another highlight was the stuffed cabbage which was one of the best versions of this iconic Eastern European dish that I've had. The cabbage was firm, the filling was nicely spiced and the sauce, so often a weak tomato water, was tangy and lively.

There are many other dishes on the menu, but none which I found exciting. Borscht, boiled dumplings and chicken Kiev were all competent but fairly standard and a bit bland. As I said, it is a big menu, so there is more to explore, but if I go back it will be for the smoked fish and stuffed that would make any old Bolshevik's mouth water.

5338 Laurel Canyon Blvd
Valley Village, CA 91607
(818) 509-5828

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