FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD
Many of my friends and family have asked me what it is like in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Not knowing much about this part of the world, they have been keen to see pictures and hear about life in the City of Apples. So I am going to post a series of blog posts highlighting different aspects of life in Almaty. I did think of doing it all in one, but to be honest, the post just seemed way too long! Hopefully, you will enjoy it and if I have missed anything for those living here, just pop me a message via social media.
FOOD IN ALMATY
One of my friends sent me some pictures of food I might eat when living in Kazakhstan before I had actually arrived. Again not knowing much they were greeted with traditional Kazakh dishes via Google images. Dishes such as Beshbarmak, a dish made using horse or mutton meat, onions, and large noodles, and Kurt, a small ball made from dehydrated sour cream. Although beautiful traditional dishes, these were far from what I was used to eating at home. If you need time to adjust to new foods, then do not fear, there are plenty of options here to eat, including traditional foods. Although this is not a completely inclusive list or detailed description, I will attempt to give an outline below, on some key points for expat’s living in relation to food.
Almaty is very modern and you can pretty much order most cuisines. One of my favourite dishes is Shashlik, which you can pretty much get everywhere. Back home in the UK, it would be called a grilled kebab, although this isn't the doner kind. We are talking lovely cubes of lamb, chicken, mushroom, or even salmon, along with a salad, rice, and bread. The food tasted fresh and flavoured. I have noticed that some restaurants are a little heavy on salt, and they do favour sauces or powder seasoning on many things. Just tell your waiter that you do not want these on the food before you order, even if the menu does not state it, as it often doesn't. Just say no powder or sauce on food, please place on a side dish. To be safe, I even write this when ordering on my app, just to be sure.
That brings me onto food apps. You have plenty! Chocofood, Yandex Eats, Wolt (Wolt is my favourite as it is also in English), Zenge, and more. These are great for ordering takeaways. You can get your regular McDonalds if that is what you like or your top dollar Thai takeaway. The choice is yours. Fancy a coffee at work, no worries you can order for delivery from some of the many on offer, including Starbucks and Costa, although there are others that are just as nice, such as Coffeedelia. Don't be afraid to try. Ordering food is pretty simple here, although with some apps you will need a Kazakh bank account. That was pretty annoying but once sorted, you will be well away. Sometimes when you order the food they will call you on the phone. Just say English if you don't speak Russian and often they will use WhatsApp.
FOOD: SUPERMARKET SHOPPING
Instashop is your friend when it comes to food shopping. Just like most major cities, there are a number of supermarkets that you can choose from to do your food shopping. If you like large scale cash and carry, you have Metro or Magnum, where you will find many domestic branded goods, as well as imported ones too. If you want a more upmarket shopping experience then you have Galmart or Colibri. They are focused more on imported goods, as well as your high-end product ranges. There are also shops such as Interfood, which also sell imported brands from across Europe in particular.
Accessing any one of these shops isn’t difficult. You can take a bus, drive or take a Yandex. Taxis are pretty cheap in comparison to UK taxi rides, so a return journey might cost you between ￡4-6. Do be careful however to really check the prices of products. As a landlocked country, some items in particular are expensive due to import tariffs. My first shop at Galmart cost me ￡150, as I had no idea of how to convert the cost. The best piece of advice I got was to simply double everything when converting to pounds. If you see 1000 tenge that's around ￡2, so 2000 tenge is around ￡4 and so forth.
Now back to instashop. Instashop is an online platform that allows you to shop from 12 different supermarkets here in Almaty and arrange same-day delivery of items, which you can pay for online or upon receipt. The only issue you have is that you would need to use a translator as it is in Russian. I use Google Chrome and have the translate extension attached to my browser, so it automatically does it for me. This is so simple and easy, so now I can just shop online. When searching for items you may find that these items are sometimes called something else, so you may not always find what you want, as it is under a different name.
FOOD: FRUIT STALLS AND MARKETS
Many apartment blocks will have a local shop, which may also have a local fruit and veg stall. These are great, as you can literally get most of your week's worth of shop here if the bulk of your meal is made up of veg that is. There is also a range of markets here in Almaty, not that I have been to them all. Lockdown limitations! You can try the Green Market where you get loads of fresh spices, nuts, and fruit, along with other items. I recently went there to get some keys cut, as well as a bag, repaired. There are other larger markets that sit outside of Almaty such as Baraholka Market, which I am told ideally you need to visit with a local person, or a fluent Russian speaker. I am sure there is much more to add to the list, which I am yet to explore. When I have more, I'll be sure to update.
The options again just like takeaway are unlimited to an extent. There are so many places to eat and choose from. You can visit Panfilova, where there is a wide range of restaurants such as Ocean Basket which sells seafood, Del Papa an Italian pizza place, Galitos which would be like Nando's in the UK, chicken, and chips Portuguese style, Fornarina another Italian cuisine restaurant, Gosti which is a Russian food experience, SMUG Burger Bar an American style experience and so many more.
The shopping malls such as Mega Centre on Rozybakiyeva also have food outlets such as CRUDO Steakhouse, Starbucks Coffee, Pizza Hut, KFC, and more. Dostyk Plaza has a wide range of places to eat, including Cafe Central which is more European, Roma Caffe which is Italian, Tyubeteika- Family Restaurant, which is Uzbek, and others. Another great spot for food is Dostyk Avenue, with the famous Craft restaurant, which is excellent in my opinion. There are loads more restaurants on Dostyk Avenue to try, as well as a lovely alcohol shop called Nicolas and some cocktail bars. Also down by Colibri on Valikhanov St, there are some great spots and a beautiful ice cream shop, while you can have a more traditional Georgian experience at Mimino, on Zhukova.
TO SUM UP!
I hope that gives you an idea of the wide range of food available here in Almaty and remembered this is in no way an extensive list of places or the hidden gems awaiting you to explore.
*No affiliated program or commission has been used/earned from this blog post. All recommendations are from personal choice.