Харбин / Harbin
ул. Алеутская, 45а
Hours of Operation: Daily from 12:00 pm – 1:00 am
Meals from $8 (Lunch specials from $2)
Despite my Russian friends trying to dissuade me from eating at one of Vladivostok’s many Chinese restaurants, I decided to take a risk and visit a Chinese kitchen called Harbin. I’d been warned that most of the Chinese restaurants were pricey, but Harbin advertised cheap lunch specials, so I gave it a try.
The restaurant is located on Aleutskaya Street, a few blocks up from Cloverhouse. When visiting, make sure to use the second door, labeled “Harbin Restaurant”, as the first door will lead you into the Chinese-run hair salon. I was definitely surprised by the interior of the restaurant, which was decked out in flashing Christmas lights and the word ‘Harbin’ written out in bright, neon lights. In fact, the restaurant also doubles as a night club, and is a popular hangout for local Chinese residents. The service is a bit slow, and many of the waiters are not native Russian speakers, so there’s sometimes a need to repeat things. However, those working at Harbin are generally a bit happier and more respectful than most servers in Vladivostok’s restaurants.
The menu at Harbin is huge. There were well over a hundred different dishes to choose from, including, salads, soups, and hot dishes. As most Russians aren’t accustomed to spicy foods, the majority of dishes are toned down, but you can always ask for a bit more flavor. While the prices for most entrees exceed 10 dollars, the portions are huge and are best split with one or two friends. There’s also the option to order a half order for 70% of the price of a full order. I visited with a (skeptical) Russian friend and we split a plate of sweet and sour chicken (350 rubles), rice (50 rubles), and a pot of tea (100 rubles). I also grabbed a beer (100 rubles) for good measure. Even with two of us sharing the meal, we still had more than a third of the food left to take home. Harbin also offers a variety of lunch specials (offered daily between noon and 2 pm), starting from 30 rubles for a dish of fried rice with vegetables. The majority of lunch specials cost around 150 rubles and include a hot dish, such as noodles and chicken, rice, and a cup of tea.
Harbin is a decently priced, Chinese restaurant that offers a huge variety of dishes. If you are willing to shell out the typical 300 rubles for a meal, you won’t come away disappointed.
For groups and faculty-led tours, the restaurant is gigantic and can host a group as large as 40. They also offer catering.