I’m not going to lie – we’ve eaten fast food a few times on our trip. I don’t go out of my way to look for McDonalds, but when you’ve been travelling in the car for the whole day and it’s getting late, roadside McDonald’s is just about all you have energy for! (Additional point – K and I have what we call the McDonald’s index, where the cost of a Big Mac in various countries is a good indicator of overall cost of dining out in that country. It really works!)
In Russia though, there’s no need to resort to greasy Mcdonald’s or Burger King when you feel like a quick and easy meal – Teremok is the place to go! It’s a Russian fast food chain that specialises in Russian blinis, which you can think of as crepes or pancakes. From what I understand, they have a presence all over the country – we went to branches in both St Petersburg and Moscow.
Ordering at the counter can be difficult, as all the menus above the counters are in Cyrillic. You can always point to the pictures and hazard a guess at what each blini has inside, but we just asked the server behind the counter for an “angliyskoye menyu”. They keep a laminated translated menu behind the counter, which makes it much easier to decide what you want to order! On our first visit, we went for one savoury blini, and two dessert blinis – it was the late afternoon, so I needed a sweet pick-me-up hit.
We ordered the savoury Ilka Muramets blini, with a thick piece of grilled pork inside, as well as a wafer thin layer of wilted greens and melted cheese. Unfortunately, I didn’t taste the mushrooms that the menu claimed were in this blini, which is a shame because I think it would have added some extra flavour. Still, the pork by itself was still quite tasty with a nice savoury flavour.
K was keen for the Creamy Caramel and Apple Blini, claiming it as a combination that couldn’t go wrong. With hot gooey caramel sauce and thick cuts of stewed apple, this was a real sugar hit! I thought it lacked a certain something though – a little bit of extra cinnamon or more spices could have really picked this blini up and made it much more mind-blowing.
I chose the iBlin with Condensed Milk – I kid you not, this item is actually called the iBlin on the menu! The condensed milk was a bit too thick for the blini to handle and slowly leaked out onto the plate. If you grew up like me in an Asian household and are used to spreading condensed milk on toast as a sweet treat, you will absolutely love this blini as it takes the deliciousness of condensed milk to a whole new level. If however, you weren’t lucky enough to become accustomed to eating spoonfuls of condensed milk as a child, you’ll probably find this blini too much to handle – sorry!
Our next visit to Teremok was in a shopping mall in Moscow close to our hotel. Again, we asked for the English menu and were pleasantly surprised when the server was able to take our order in English which made things much easier! This time we opted for two savoury blinis and a salad to share as we had our eye on a waffle place in the shopping mall for dessert.
I chose the Chicken Bogatyr which was a much better choice than our earlier savoury blini. This one had a much more generous number of mushrooms to go with the tender chicken and super melted stringy cheese. You really can’t go wrong with a chicken, mushroom and cheese combination!
K chose the Royale blini, which turned out to be a hamburger in a blini! The beef patty, melted American-style cheese, sauce, and pickles made it taste exactly like a McDonald’s Royale with Cheese. Not bad if you’re craving a cheeseburger, and having it in a blini means that it’s possibly (?) slightly healthier than having the burger bun?
On a healthier note, we ordered a Meatless Olivier Salad to share, made up of small cubes of carrot, cucumber, potato, and canned peas. Served with a generous dollop of mayonnaise and fried onions on top, you mix all the ingredients together to make an Olivier Salad, also known as a Russian Salad. This was actually by far the best Russian Salad we had in the whole time we were in Russia – a big call, but true! I think the fact that we mixed the salad ourselves made all the difference as the ingredients were much more fresher and hadn’t gotten soggy from being pre-mixed.
Teremok is a great fast food chain where you can get some pretty delicious Russian blinis at a reasonable price. It’s not quite as cheap as cafeteria food, but it’s just as tourist-friendly with its English menus. Give it a try if you’re ever in Russia!
Teremok branches can be found all over Russia. For a list of their locations, please visit their website.