If you haven’t heard of pelmeni, it’s time you did. These traditional Siberian-Russian dumplings are beloved among Irkutsk locals and all you need to do is bite into one to see why. Similar to Chinese dumplings and Italian ravioli, pelmeni are made of a variety of fillings wrapped in unleavened dough and then boiled. Pelmeni originated in the Ural region and the word translates roughly to “ear bread” for their shape that is similar to an ear. These comforting dumplings can be filled with meat, cheese, fish, or even berries and vegetables. It’s unclear when pelmeni first appeared in local cuisine, but they are a favourite among Russians.
The best place to get your pelmeni fix in Irkutsk, according to local Urban Adventures guide Yana, is Realniy Zames (or Krutoy Zames), located in the heart of Karl Marx Street. Everything here is made from scratch using traditional recipes and the freshest ingredients – you can taste the love that goes into every tasty dumpling. Here you’ll find both traditional fillings as well as more creative fusions of flavour, and you can pair your plate of pelmeni with a local beer. The atmosphere is laid back and the industrial décor makes for a low-key yet stylish setting.
Karl Marx Street, 39, Irkutsk