The Moscow News #15

Sail away by Kristen Blyth at 22/04/2013 19:34
Lodka, 8 Novinsky Bulvar, Lotte Plaza shopping center, 4th floor, m. Smolenskaya, (495) 647 6404,
Open daily noon – last customer
Walk into Lodka, and you’ll be swept into another world. A lovely teak-floored world, gently backlit by soft candles and color-complementary neon lights.

The interior of this new Asian restaurant, located on the fourth floor of the Lotte Plaza shopping center, is undoubtedly dazzling. A step across the restaurant’s threshold transports you from the harsh lights and hard white tiles of the mall into a dim and beautifully decorated space, evocative of the deck of an exotic wooden ship.
The crowning gem of the interior, though, is the windows. The sparkling Moskva City complex is visible beyond the bright lights of Novy Arbat – but the view changes when high-definition video screens are lowered over the glass, entertaining diners with underwater footage of coral reefs and colorful tropical fish. With playful turtles and lazy sharks gliding past your plates, the meal becomes reminiscent of a submarine adventure.

© Photo / The Moscow News / Kristen Blyth
Shark fin soup was not as exciting as it sounded
Lodka, headed by chef Cheng Fan Chin, is a pan-Asian restaurant. Showcasing mainly seafood dishes, including fish steaks, dim sum, sushi and noodle bowls, the restaurant’s focus is clear: nice fish, high prices. Helpfully, Lodka has organized its menu in increasing-price order. If you really want to impress the person sitting across the candlelit table from you, by all means order the 6,500-ruble Kobe teriyaki beef lurking on the menu’s bottom right; otherwise, let your gaze wander to the top left, where the prices are less of a strain on the budget.

The bar menu boasts the usual wine, cocktails and hard liquor, plus some exotic Asian additions. Sake and plum wine also make an appearance. Though we didn’t order tea, the service at a table nearby was beautifully elaborate.

Our dinner kicked off with a complimentary starter: Chinese prawn crackers, which if you have never had them before taste like a spongier version of fortune cookies, with a side of tangy orange and sweet-and-sour sauce and an origami… something.

Was it a swan? A sail? An abstract sculpture? We’re still not sure. Whatever it was, it didn’t hide the blandness of the crackers.

One of the restaurant’s much-acclaimed selling points is modern technology magic. Come to Lodka, the website begs, and you’ll get to observe the whole cooking process of your food live on iPads provided to your table.

Maybe we dined while the iPads were recharging, or perhaps they’ve rolled back this particular policy due to an excessive amount of soy sauce being spilled on their precious Apple tablets. Disappointingly, we did not receive an iPad, and neither did the diners at neighboring tables.
Thus, we did not get to observe our tuna steak salad appetizer being prepared behind the scenes. The quality of the dish, however, made up for the absence of tablets: the raw fish was well cut and tasted quite fresh, and the tangy citrus-based dressing added a lovely acidic kick.

© Photo / The Moscow News / Kristen Blyth
Complimentary Chinese prawn crackers with sauces
The Tom Yum shrimp were similarly pleasing. Unlike many pathetically-sized shrimp found around town, they constituted a juicy mouthful, though the mass of unruly, crispy glass noodles on the side proved difficult to eat politely.
Shark fin soup – a luxury Chinese item – was an exciting foray into the culinary unknown. Considered one of the eight treasured foods of the sea, shark fins are rumored to increase sexual potency and enhance skin quality.
The soup was cradled in a basin illuminated from beneath by a small candle, which served the dual purpose of looking pretty and keeping the soup hot. It was a bit disappointing taste-wise, though. Shark fins are nearly flavorless, comprising oddly textured gelatinous chunks, so the dish ended up tasting like a slightly fishy vegetable broth.
Lodka was impressive for the ambience, but hard-hitting to the wallet. For those looking to savor an expensive piece of quality fish by candlelight while admiring videos of eels, however, there’s no place better.

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