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Restaurant Review

RONI Nedalny Light
Charles Borden

We’ve known for months that Glen Ballis, the chef that made Nedalny Vostok such a sensation, planned to open a new restaurant with Arkady Novikov. Where, when and what were answered this month when he opened Roni, best described as an Asian urban brasserie, more democratic and quiet than its big brother. Roni is just off Petrovka next to Barashka, which is owned by Glen’s other partner in Roni, Rudy Movsumov. Don’t expect the Nedalny favorites at Roni—Glen has a new line-up of small plates, new-style sushi and sashimi and grilled meats, fish and veggies off a big robata grill. He brought a Nedalny apprentice, Rashid Abd Rashid (pictured below), to run the Roni kitchen.

Glen was in the kitchen on the two consecutive nights we sat at Roni’s centerpiece, a huge, heavy, and fat slice out of what must have been a magnificent tree. Dark and fissured, coated with dozens of coats of poly, it comfortably seats eight, surrounded by another ten or so tables that together with the monster accommodate about 50 guests. There is a private room just off the entrance. A long bar stretches across the back separating guests and bar stools from the open kitchen and robata grill—looks like a nice place for bar dining, and to watch the action. The robata grill, fed with charcoal from buckets underneath the construction, prepares meat, fish and veggies for much of the menu.

The menu is a simple, single place-mat size page with headings that include Salads, Small Dishes, Tempura, Dim Sum, Teppanyaki, Robata Grill and New Style Sashimi and Maki. Plates of puffy rice chips with a spicy, sweet dip came out just after the menu. Glen refused to recommend anything saying, “Everything is good, and I like to get feedback from guests. I like to know what appeals to them.”

To start, we took the Robata Tomato and Spinach Salad (490r), Robata Grilled Shishito Peppers (490r), Tuna Tataki (890r), and Deep Fried Tofu Hoisin (390r). The spinach salad, served with a bit of feta, dried miso, onion and a dill dressing was a table pleaser. Guests hesitated over the small green, grilled Shishito peppers—they look like fire, but in fact are quite mild and flavourful. The tuna tataki, slightly grilled, and then thinly sliced, rolled, was topped with a light ginger chili dressing—also a hit. The tofu had been my choice—it’s difficult to find tofu at all in Moscow—and most meat eaters find it bland and wonder why anyone would dream of eating it. Not me, Roni’s soft but firm tofu had a stiff carmelized Hoisin pepper sauce that was delightful.

Other favourites these two nights were the Robata Smoked Eel (590r) served with BBQ and sesame seeds, Robata Char-Su Duck Breast (690r) with wasabi yuzo dressing, and the Portobello Mushroom (390r) with sweet soy sauce. We managed a delightful dessert helping of Green Tea Tiramisu (490r).

Tel +7 (495) 625 26 06

As of this visit, Roni did not yet have an alcohol license so wine and drinks had to be ordered from neighbouring Barashka. It is early yet to make a judgment, but Roni certainly has a great heritage, and the Moscow market now favours the modest prices and comfortable environment. We will be happy to go back.

Next Dinner for Two
Robata Tomato and Spinach Salad 490r
Robata Grilled Shishito Peppers 490r
Deep Fried Tofu Hoisin 390r
Portobello Mushroom 390r
Robata Char-Su Duck Breast 690r
Total 2450r

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