>> Borsh Deli | Eat the World Los Angeles

Monday, 1 August 2022

Borsh Deli

RUSSIA 🇷🇺
Los Alamitos Blvd. facade

COVID-19 UPDATE: The deli is fully open and there are a couple places to sit inside and outside for customers wanting to eat their prepared foods immediately.

Los Alamitos's newest business is far from what you might envision a deli to be. More than just a store to buy products and prepared foods, the place seems alive with friendliness when you approach it during busier meal times. People are enjoying some of the shop's foods at the table outside and on a bench inside, as if they got too hungry to get the foods home.

And why not? The shop is a bit sparse for now but is outfitted with art and after spending a few moments with the husband and wife who opened the place, you will want to hang around with them as well. They are purposefully trying to be something of all the Eastern European foods they love and not focusing on themselves. The husband jokes that their birthplaces are Mars and Venus rather than whatever the unimportant answer to this question might be.

Interior of store

On Instagram from even before they opened, Borsh Deli has been promoting not just the foods of one country but from almost the entirety of Eastern Europe. Posts have been made about specific dishes popular in Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine. There are also products from Armenia, Georgia, Lithuania, and more.

The chef herself has actually lived in this country for almost 50 years, but keeps the recipes of her grandmother back in the Soviet Union alive with the foods she prepares today. With the help of a Ukrainian chef, there are some major hints about the specific dishes that will be best here. On any first visit, the foods of both Russia and Ukraine, and especially the ones they enjoy in both, are the ones you should gravitate towards.

A full meal made with five items at home

A refrigerated case near the back holds some of the shiniest treasures the shop has to offer, including the namesake beet soup and others like Russian barley mushroom known as gribnoy ($6.95, above far right). This one is full of dill and other herbs, and despite being meatless still packs a hearty punch for cold Russian winters.

The borsh ($6.95, above bottom right) itself is delicious and has way more shredded beef than you might be expecting. Combined with a broth that is slow-cooked with beef bones, it is a delightfully meaty treat surrounded and colored by beets and cabbage. As always, if you have some sour cream at home, do as a Ukrainian or Russian would do and spoon a big portion in while it is hot.

A plate of prepared pelmeni

There is also a small freezer in the shop that holds a few different varieties of homemade pelmeni (above), a container of 50 is priced at $15.99 and two cost $30 flat. These small dumplings are notorious for being time-intensive to make, so Borsh Deli makes it really easy to have them whenever you want if you keep a few cartons in your own freezer.

A printed out set of instructions will be handed to customers that look like they might need a little guidance, but it only takes a couple minutes of boiling to bring these nuggets back to life. A combination of frying in butter after boiling is probably the best way to prepare, adding a nice slick coat to the exterior and slightly crisping up an edge or two. No matter which ingredients you choose stuffed into your pelmeni, they just have a palpable homemade feel when you pop each in your mouth.

Frozen pelmeni

The stolichny salad ($4.95) shown in the top food photo is also very good, like the more common olivye but with small amounts of smoked chicken rather than the mortadella-esque "doctor's" sausage. The chef prepares it wonderfully with smaller amounts of mayonnaise than usual and definitely more herbs, creating a flavorful companion to the soups and pelmeni.

You can also ask for as many or as few pieces of golubtsi ($4.95 each, top middle of photo above) as you desire, and this is another dish not to leave without. These stuffed cabbage rolls are usually high in rice content, but it is much more meat that dominates in this chef's version. As with all the other foods offered at this new Los Alamitos business, quality is key and no corners are cut.

Daily specials board

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