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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sunflowers and Salo

MTUvaga's modern and bright interior makes for a cheerful dinner setting.
Attention salo connoisseurs, a new Ukrainian restaurant called Uvaga has opened right downtown, on Ulitsa Arbat. Fans of the fatback will be happy to hear that the Ukrainian pork-fat favorite is very much on the menu -- it comes salted, smoked, with red pepper and with black pepper (210 rubles for an assorted selection).

This porky presence, however, does not mean Uvaga is simply a kitschy, cliched, national-theme restaurant. It's quite the opposite. The design of the basement restaurant is refreshingly free of barnyard decorations and is instead bright and modern -- with the only token traditional touches being some sunny murals of countryside scenes and the waitstaff's national costumes. There are four halls, including a nonsmoking section and a dance floor.

The menu offers plenty of traditional favorites besides succulent salo. The Ukrainian borshch comes with classical garlic pampushki, or miniature buns (160 rubles). The village-style mushroom and vegetable salad (270 rubles) comes dressed with sunflower oil, rather than fashionable olive oil, which gives it an authentic taste. Other traditional dishes include potato cakes stuffed with mushrooms (220 rubles), a tasty assortment of mixed salted fish (460 rubles), boiled potatoes with herring (160 rubles) and an excellent mixed plate of salted pickles (280 rubles). Homemade pelmeni with sour cream cost 240 rubles, while potato and mushroom vareniki also cost 240 rubles. Cherry vareniki with jam, butter, honey, sour cream or sweetened condensed milk cost 210 rubles. For those with a bigger appetite who are willing to spend a bit more, there's a dish called Kryavkva -- roast duck with apples for 450 rubles.

The on-tap beers all go for 200 rubles and include Franziskaner, Krusovice dark and Spaten. Vodka starts at 625 rubles a bottle. Fifty-gram shots of plain vodka cost 60 rubles, while honey and pepper flavored Nemiroff go for 50 rubles.

9 Ul. Arbat, 737-0444, noon-midnight, M. Arbatskaya.