Palochki's Local Debut

MTThe northern capital's Dve Palochki has come to take on Moscow.
Moscow's restaurant chains have been expanding out into the regions for quite some time now, but it is still unusual for other cities' chains to try to muscle their way into the capital's cutthroat market. St. Petersburg's Japanese restaurant chain Dve Palochki has set about to do just that with its bold, simultaneous opening of two downtown restaurants -- one on Serpukhovskaya Ulitsa and one on Myasnitskaya Ulitsa.

These are slick eateries, not just your average sushi bar. The Serpukhovskaya branch's interior is high-tech and polished with plenty of glass and chrome. There is also a vague air-travel theme, and a digital arrivals-and-departures board on the first floor lists imaginary flights, while the menus describe themselves as "on-board" menus.

As is becoming more popular in Asian restaurants around town, the menus employ a series of symbols to indicate supposedly "spicy," "vegetarian," "newly introduced" or "popular" dishes. Popularity is important, as dishes are regularly rotated and the least favored are dropped.

Naturally, you can expect to find all the usual sushi, sashimi and rolls on the menu at the reasonable prices -- salmon sushi goes for 42 rubles a pop. Other dishes include baked green mussels for 160 rubles, and tiger prawns with red caviar for 290 rubles. Soups include crab meat soup (210 rubles), eel soup (180 rubles) and kimchi cabbage meat soup (130 rubles). Mains include chicken fillet with shiitake mushrooms (190 rubles), teriyaki salmon (220 rubles) and egg noodles with chicken and prawns (240 rubles). Prices are low, but the portions are fairly diminutive.

The beverages menu is extensive and includes its own set of symbols, such as "fresh" or "invigorating." Draft beer starts at 150 rubles for a half-liter of either Pilsner Urquell or Holsten. Under the "know-how" section is a drink set for two people -- two Martinis, two white wines, two red wines, two sparkling wines, a gold and a silver tequila, and two shots of vodka, all for 1,000 rubles. This is quite appropriately tagged with a "fun" symbol.

Dve Palochki, 8 Bolshaya Serpukhovskaya Ul., 11 a.m.-6 a.m.,

M. Serpukhovskaya.