HADJA NASREDDIN – Shashlik, Belly dancers and Vodka – what’s not to like?

3 Nov

“I was told you got the whole experience here…

no one told me I was going to be sat on a cushion and distracted every 30minutes by half dressed girls”

Disgruntled Geriatric

Originally planning to “do a TIP”, meet at Pirogi, have some food, some drinks and then move on to the “party” places anywhere between Sukharevskaya and Kitai Gorod – the editorial Team had a change of heart, and decided that today, on the anniversary of the Chief’s 25 years alive, they would actually go out and splash all that hard earned money they won at monopoly. HADJA NASSREDIN was the second step of our voyage which would bring us from the depths of Chistie Prudy all the way down to the end of Myasnitskaya Ulitsa. Who could have imagined that so much fun resided in such a small part of this huge city. Meeting for beers separately due to a misunderstanding, half met a Cuba Libre for a quick mojito whilst the Editor and Chief Critic headed to Booze Bub for some cherry strudel and the best cosmopolitans in the city – or so they say. Hardly 2 minutes for the former, and 7min from the latter, we all met mid way on Pokrovka Ulitsa at Hadja Nassredin.

This is a bargain – it should not be missed.

What to expect: Even the entrance to this place is, as promised, traditional and part of the “whole experience”. The coat check guy has even grown a magnificent handle bar moustache to make you feel comfortable even after you have taken off your shoes to perch upon a cushion. Or not, they seem to have more standard tables in the middle. After a certain amount of time climbing up and down some stairs, making a quick break to the toilet before the removal of the shoes (it is probably as far away as Cuba Libre), the removing of the shoes and the getting comfortable on the cushions, you can settle in and enjoy everything this place has to offer, and this is quite a bit. There are real birds in cages, real belly dancers who appear every 30min or so, really nice staff and as real an Uzbek décor as can be found in the heart of Moscow.

Food and drink: Wine and vodka (separately of course, TIP staff only mix with beer). Russian Standard or whatever vodka you may choose, is served in little jugs and your shot glass is topped up every time by a member of staff – so your break between the first and the second will inevitably and culturally correctly “ne bolshoi”. Don’t forget the MOPC (sweetened cranberry and berry juice), 3 types to choose from, to wash it down. The wine is served in big wine glasses as it should.

The food, well, the TIP team didn’t actually see the menu and a group order was placed by our Russian advisors and regulars (they have a 10% discount card here), to save us staring at the menu and then thinking that everybody else’s meal was better. In conclusion, no one got any plov, we opted for everything on a stick instead. Chicken and pork shaslik, grilled to perfection, juicy and tender, grilled potatoes on a skewer, far from bland which I would have happily eaten on its own and mixed grilled vegetables upon the Editor’s request (eggplant, tomato, pepper). Get some of their traditional baked bread with cheese to start of the meal and to wipe the last juices of the meat off the plate with!

“I would have happily devoured the potato, with the skewer, had I been served nothing else –

and I would still have enjoyed this place”

The service: excellent by European standards, well presented in a traditional dress/uniform thing which is pleasing and colourful. It may not be traditional but it certainly convinced us!  Friendly and, moreover, patient whilst we spent 30 min changing measurements of vodka to be served and including her in the debate. Apparently she had a little English, but this night the TIP did it Russki style, therefore never took the full measure of her linguistic abilities. Belly dancers, one blond for the western Russian lovers and one brunette, more Eastern – they appear regularly for a 5min dance and then leave you to it – just enough to be entertaining without being annoying.

Average price per head, for a decent meal, shashlik, potatoes, bread, vegetables, 1 bottle of wine and 1lt of Russian Standard was about1700 rub per head – we were expecting a lot more – with our discount card ~(this takes a few weeks to prepare) we paid 1500 per person. This is a bargain – it should not be missed.

Things to know:

Full cyrillic name: ХОДЖА НАСРЕДДИН В ХИВЕ

You must book a table in advance, ask a Russian speaker to do it, or go there yourself, they are very nice – they probably won’t shout at you. You can also do it online apparently, top right hand corner of their website, beside the button to put it in English.

If you are in a group of 4 or more, book a window perch, overlooking the rest of the restaurant, belly dancers. This is where the cushions are at – or settle for a more standard form of seating in the central section where large groups come to celebrate their birthdays and life achievements.

Wear nice socks!

Where: Pokrovka 10, str 2

Metro: equal distance between Chistie Prudy and Kitai Gorod (10mins)



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