Almaty is the former capital, and one of Kazakhstan’s largest metropolis. It’s a city of contrasts that lies amidst mountains and incredible nature, has some traditional buildings, but is mostly very futuristic with high-rise buildings, modern architecture, and wide roads.
This diversity is mirrored in the food scene. Just as the country, the culture of eating and dishes cooked are of a multicultural nature. Besides the most popular cuisines being traditional Kazakh, Uighur, and Georgian, you’ll find all kinds of food you might wish for.
The Kazakh cuisine is dominated by a lot of meat dishes, and mainly lamb or horse. Milk products, too, are very popular. Georgian cuisine features different variations of khachapuri, a fluffy bread filled and topped with eggs, cheese, and sometimes vegetables or meat. Shashlik, the traditional meat skewer, is very popular, too. Langhman is the most eaten Uighur dish; a plate of hand-pulled noodles topped with spicy vegetables and meat.
It’s #WorldFoodDay! Those who visit and live in #Kazakhstan get to enjoy dishes like Beshbarmark, Baursak, and more! What is your favorite #Kazakh dish? #KazakhCulture #VisitKazakhstan #KazakhFood pic.twitter.com/uyCy5ZMZ0b— Kazakhstan 🇰🇿 (@Kazakhstan) October 16, 2018
Other popular dishes are for example Kazy, a sausage made from horse meat, which often accompanies central Asian noodles. Samsa is a meat and onion filled bun that’s baked in a special oven. Another dish is Uzbekh Plov, also said to be the national dish of Uzbekistan. It’s a cooked rice dish with vegetables and meat, often lamb or chicken. Spiced with garlic, cumin and chilis give this dish a Middle Eastern touch.
Try these five restaurants in Almaty
1. Traktir Medved
Nothing special location-wise, but food-wise it’s worth a visit because it’s specialized in Russian and Ukrainian food. Fresh-grilled fish with herbs and vegetables, pelmeni, or traditional pickles are dishes you’ll find here. Make sure to also try the herring, blinis, and borschtsch, a classic beetroot soup.
Not only the food here will show you Almaty’s cuisine at its best. This very colorful place that looks like a temple with its turquoise towers at the entrance is quite unique. It’s a bit hidden, a few minutes away from the city center, and specializes in Uzbek cuisine. Here is where you can try the plov while listening to some live music.
Gakku is an unmissable experience, where you can try traditional Kazakh dishes like the horse meat sausage and handmade noodles. One part of the restaurant charms with its dark red interior, chandeliers, and old photographs. The other part is a yurt, a traditional tent from the nomadic times. Come here for traditional Kazakh food.
Here, you can try traditional Central Asian dishes. Kishlak is a cozy restaurant, with a light patio, colorful carpets, and authentic dishware. The different rooms of the restaurant show how typical houses belonging to different parts of society looked like back in the days. Here you’ll be able to try food from Georgia like their famous khinkali dumplings, grilled meat with fresh onions, and other dishes from Middle Asia.
Cozy couches, green and vibrant red lamps, and warm lighting as well as wooden chairs and tables make you feel at home. The restaurant serves Russian, Central Asian, and European food, including plenty of stews, soups, and meat. On nights and weekends, this place turns into a bar and dancefloor and becomes a place to mingle with locals and internationals.
Are you hooked? Once Covid-19 is over, I’d say we’ll all book a trip to Almaty.