Harbin’s Russian heritage is inscribed on the city from the cathedral to the Jewish museum to the railways: most taxi drivers who speak any foreign languages speak Russian. So it’s little surprise that probably the best Western food in the city is in fact Russian – and served at Cafe Russia 1914, a lightly antiqued, ivy-clad building that feels like a slice of émigré heaven.
The food at Cafe Russia is, in fact, surprisingly authentic for China. Borschts are delicious, tangy and meaty, packed with big flavours; meat dishes are sturdy and reliable; pickles are great; and salads are as you’d expect. During peak tourist season – Lunar New Year – you may wish to book ahead, but outside those times there’ll be no problem getting a table.
Cafe Russia 1914
57 Xitou Dao Jie, Harbin
0451 8456 3207