The Ukrainian East Village Restaurant is housed at the Ukrainian National Home, a community, social and cultural center in New York City’s East Village. The ‘Ukie Nat’, as it is known by long time residents of the neighborhood, has been around since the 1950’s and houses the restaurant, the Karpaty Pub and a performance hall. The hall has hosted some legendary bands; Elvis Costello played there in 1977 on the Attraction’s first tour of the U.S., New Order played there in 1981 as they were developing their post-Joy Division sound (audio here, video here), The Misfits played a Halloween show there in 1981 and Blues Traveler and Phish played together there in 1989 (video of Blues Traveler here, Phish set list here, Phish audio here). The Ukrainian East Village Restaurant has a back room that hosts events, the Manhattan Libertarian Party meets there the second Tuesday of each month and every Wednesday there is a Milonga – an Argentine Tango Party.
The Ukrainian East Village Restaurant is not directly visible from the street, although a chalk board on the sidewalk showing the daily specials marks its presence. The restaurant is an old school looking wood paneled room on the ground floor of the Ukie Nat, at the end of a long hall. We were there on a Wednesday, which is tango night in the restaurant’s back room, so there was a steady stream of well dressed men and women that walked through the restaurant room. It was actually really cool to watch the dancing, some really skilled dancers come to the Ukrainian National Home for Tango night.
The Dumplings: The Ukrainian East Village Restaurant serves Varenyky and Pierogi which are closely related dumpling styles. As I understand it Varensky are boiled and then covered with butter and onions, while Pierogi are boiled and then fried or broiled in butter and covered with caramelized onions. The Ukrainian East Village Restaurant serves potato, spinach, cheese, sauerkraut and mushrooms and meat (beef and pork mix) Varenyky/Pierogi. I got the potato Pierogi which were excellent, the wrapper was crispy fried and buttery with a sweetness from the caramelized onions and the mashed potato filling was creamy and tasty.
For this outing I brought along my buddy El Diablo (his Upper East Side nom de guerre) who filed this report:
I opted to order my usual ratio of pierogis (note: El Diablo had the Varenyky but refers to them as pierogi): three meat, two cheese, and two potato. I prefer boiled pierogis and, for comparison’s sake if not more, remained consistent in my preferred preparation method. I also prefer my pierogis with sourcream (and usually applesauce) although this time, I used just sour cream.
The pierogis took longer to arrive at the table than I am used to waiting for such a simple food. Upon arrival, the first thing I noticed was that the coloration was less “bleached” than those found in my usual pierogi place (just a stone’s throw away, still in the East Village of NYC). In fact the coloration was vaguely, yellow – not usually a color I associate with great food, but in this case, the hue spoke immediately of freshness and, forgive me if I say this in the same phrase as “pierogi”, but…..”health”. The pierogis appeared supple and fresh and radiant in my plate. I usually don’t use these words for food, but in this case, these terms seem natural – as did the pierogis – less of a processed pallor and more of a “live” look to them. Quite nice, actually. I also noticed some type of moisture, water-like but with something else perhaps in it, which seemed to moisten the surface of the pierogis like a brine almost.
Upon tasting the pierogis, I can say to you that I was happily surprised. The moisture element I described did not seem to be water (which I am used to considering the boiling) but seemed to somehow be the remnant of either some part of the preparation medium or perhaps the contents of the pierogis themselves. Either way, each pierogi had a succulent and superlative substantive supple creaminess to its consistency – not mushy by any means – but suppleness that also gave way to a warmth and satisfying dissolution in ones mouth. Truly good. I noticed particularly that the meat and cheese seemed to really shine well.
In summation, I wholeheartedly recommend Ukrainian National Home’s pierogis. My only regret is that I did not order more.
The Dipping Sauce: The Varenyky and Pierogi don’t come with a dipping sauce, just a large bowl heaped with sour cream.
The Location: The Ukrainian National Home is on 2nd avenue between 8th and 9th streets in New York City’s East Village. Look for the big red awning stretching across the east side of 2nd avenue.