Pelmeni and vareniki, those delicious dumpling cousins of Eastern European pierogi. And Russian red cabbage. And borscht. Andrey Tokar is about to bring his modern take on a Russian dumpling shop to downtown Tacoma. Expect a summer opening for Vostok Dumpling House at 1126 Commerce St. The restaurant will be next door to Dunagan Brewing Co., also under construction.
This will be the second Vostok restaurant. Tokar opened his first restaurant three years ago in Seattle’s bustling Capitol Hill neighborhood. Although Tokar has operated Vostok in Seattle, he’s a Lake Tapps resident. He’ll run both restaurants with his sister, Anna Motso, a graduate of South Seattle Community College’s culinary arts program.
Those familiar with the Capitol Hill restaurant should expect the same style of food and atmosphere, Tokar said. Vostok is a casual dine-in restaurant that also offers take-out. In Tacoma, Tokar has plans for delivery service throughout downtown Tacoma.
Dumplings come in half or full orders, priced from $5-$10, with a short list of Russian, Ukrainian and Northwest brews, and cider. He’ll also serve bread from Fife’s Kusher Bakery, a popular item at his Seattle restaurant.
Tokar, who was born in western Ukraine and grew up in South Seattle, said his dumpling house is a modern-Northwest take on the dumpling cafes he remembers from his childhood in Ukraine. “Back home, we have these dumpling houses. They’re considered quick eats.” He described cafes with high-top standing tables for waiting while the dumplings boiled.
While those places were more grab-and-go, Tokar said his restaurant will have about 30 seats for dining in. “We’re not really aiming for a high-end dining experience. It’s more of a casual place with quick eats,” he said.
He described a menu of pure Eastern European comfort eating. “You’ll need to take a nap after, or you can go next door to Dunagan’s for some Irish brew,” he said. He’s already struck a friendship with Jesse Dunagan, the owner of the brewery.
Vostok’s menu includes a short list of pelmeni and vareniki dumplings with mix-and-match sauces ranging from a vinegar sauce, sour cream, thyme or garlic cream. Side dishes include the Russian cabbage salad, borscht soup and markovka, the shredded carrot salad.
There’s quite a bit of movement happening with Seattle restaurants opening in Tacoma. Take a look: