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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Trough

A river runs through Ki Ka Ku -- it flows from a waterfall, past a bamboo garden and under a wooden pagoda decorated with red lanterns, all the way to a cherry blossom tree.

This Chinese restaurant boasts a wide selection of alcoholic drinks. I chose a Tsingtao beer ($11 for 330 ml) - it was light, with a subtle flavor.

My companion and I then sipped jasmine tea, which stimulates the appetite and is, therefore, the ideal prelude to the Ki Ka Ku buffet ($48).

Many of the non-buffet dishes have interesting names, including Mao's Favorite Snack ($9) and a dim sum platter called Mao's Precepts ($10).

My Ki Ka Ku Soup ($12) was a very large portion, enough for two. I enjoyed the thick broth of tofu, mushrooms and vegetables, but the soup was a bit too salty.

Of the many main dishes on the menu ($11 to $39), some use very unusual ingredients: One features shark fins, another chicken feet. Still another, called Fire Bowl, is described as "slightly spicy."

The pork in my Tofu and Pork Dish ($40) had been cubed and the texture of the tofu was appealing.

I sampled the desserts ($5 to $16) my companion had selected from the buffet and I recommend the pies.

Ki Ka Ku roughly translates as "The Call of Home," but the only Chinese person present on the night we visited was a member of staff.

"Our cuisine is very 'Europeanized.' The food is not as spicy as what Chinese people eat," a manager said. "Chinese patrons come, taste the food and never come back."

But, if the restaurant's packed dining room is any indication, Ki Ka Ku has found its public in the local population: Plenty of Russians are heeding the "Call of Home."

Ki Ka Ku, at 28/30 Begovaya Ulitsa, is open from 12 11.30 p.m. Metro Dynamo, Begovaya. Tel. 945 30 31. Credit cards: all.

- Robin Munro