Khinkalʹnya - Odesa, ukraine
Rating: 8 / 10
Khinkali addiction is as real as you and I. I can count the nights spent tossing and turning in my bed in Tbilisi when I had forgotten to get a plate and the restaurant had closed. That deep fear that a soupy dumpling was lying somewhere alone, weeping at the fact it couldn't feed you. That fear keeps me awake at night.
After I had dropped off my bags at my Airbnb in Odesa, my landlady (a very chic lady in high heels) asked me if I was hungry. I nodded, to which she said "Get in my car, I know a good Khinkali spot". And off she raced in her red mazda sportscar, all of 2 blocks. The door was opened and she pointed across the street and bade me farewell.
I entered with the remnants of Istanbul still ringing in my memory, to find a ludicrously bright restaurant. Absolutely not conducive to a man who had just been partying at Stereogun the night before. Fears were quickly abated when a large bottle of Borjomi appeared. Look, you're already getting bonus points if you sell Borjomi Water.. I mean.. come on!
Out minutes later amidst the bright lights and screams of infants came a steaming pile of goodness. A healing balm of broth and dumpling, cracked black pepper sprinkled on top as the locals do, then lift, bite, soup drained, rest munched, tops left on the plate to form small beheaded driftwood logs.
Life began to return to my bones. Broth has the tendency to do that. Thank goodness I quit drinking so that I could survive an entire pandemic without one single Khinkali.
These recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
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"Tastes are subjective, so take everything with a pinch of salty tears"