Tour: Buyan Russian Restaurant and Bar

Let the interesting interiors of Buyan transport you to Russia and afford you the experience of discovering an izba (traditional Russian wooden log cabin) and khoromy (Russian residential mansion) right here in Singapore.

Updated on August 10, 2017 14:08 pm

Jerni Camposano

review and tour of Buyan Russian Restaurant and Bar

alcohol collection at Buyan Russian Restaurant and Bar

If you've always been curious about how life is in Russia—a massive country spanning nine time zones and two continents as well as home to various nationalities and cultures—owner Julia Sherstyuk and managing director Natalia Makarova invite you to come over to dine and chill in Buyan, one of the few Russian restaurants in Singapore.

Located in Duxton Hill's busy row of hip restaurants and boutique shops, Buyan is intended to be a showcase of what Julia and Natalia's beautiful home country can offer beyond the stereotypical images of vodka, Russian bear, and that winter hat ushanka (Russians spend most time of the year in extremely cold temperature).

Julia and Natalia were publishing 103rd Meridian East, the only bilingual Russian-English magazine in Singapore, before they realised that one of the most effective ways to promote Russia is through design and food.

tour to view the interior design of Buyan Russian Restaurant and Bar

"We wanted to show that this vast country is populated with beautiful and interesting people and that there is so much more than just the glamorous images of Moscow and St. Petersburg," shares Natalia. "Most people who have visited Russia sang songs about our hospitality and food. This sparked the idea to bring Russian hospitality to Singapore so you can enjoy it without all the troubles with visa, tickets, and language barriers. We did our best to stay true to the core principle of our magazine of breaking stereotypes and sharing the true picture of history and culture, in this case through food and interiors."

full alcohol collection at Buyan Russian Restaurant & Bar

cosy interiors at Buyan Russian Restaurant & Bar

True enough, a visit to Buyan will give you a sneak peek of Russian countryside dwelling. The restaurant's stylish and contemporary interpretation of the izba features walls covered with wooden logs to imitate the traditional Russian hut's intimate and cosy look and feel.

"The solid and warm feeling coming from the walls creates the atmosphere of being safe and comfortable no matter what’s the weather outside: Russian frost or Singapore heat. You feel at home," explains Natalia.

bar counter at Buyan Russian Restaurant & Bar

Noteworthy details in its interiors reflect the hard work Julia and Natalia put into the research of the overall look and design of the place. "We tried to use natural materials as much as possible: the walls are real wood and the bar-counter is made of natural stone. The light we chose is not bright and the chandeliers look like cast iron with candles in it. It is not overpowering so we believe it’s the ideal surrounding to have a great dinner with friends or colleagues, or a nice romantic date with your special one."

Yet even if you are not very keen on enjoying a full sit-down meal, you can always visit Buyan for some drinks. Don't be surprised if you see different varieties of vodka in its well-stocked bar. You are, after all, in a Russian place.

wine collection at Buyan Russian Restaurant and Bar

bestsellers food at buyan Russian Restaurant & Bar
Buyan's bestsellers include Khachapuri, hot Georgian flat bread with halumi and mozzarella cheese; Borscht, traditional Russian vegetable soup with beet; and Shashlyk, chunks of skewered pieces of meat left to soak overnight in marinades.

The Russian tradition of communal dining was also taken into consideration when they planned the interiors and culinary offerings of Buyan. "Russian food doesn’t use spicy sauces so it’s very honest in that sense: the fish tastes like fish and meat should be nice and fresh. Also, lots of dishes can be easily shared."

Just when you thought you've seen it all in the izba, you'll be surprised to find more: The upper floor's interiors are brimming with everything quintessentially Russian, you'll be delighted to explore further.

The second floor's ambience is reminiscent of an aristocratic Russian banquet hall. And the true jewel of the space—something you won't miss—are the ceilings, which were handpainted and sculpted to look like a domed ceiling of the Russian khoromy, dwellings of the nobility or church buildings.

"The ceilings are inspired by the works of Russian painter Ivan Bilibin and depict the scenes of sailing and hunting. This reflects the tradition of the ancient stone walls being covered with rich ornamental murals," explains Natalia.

private function room at Buyan Russian Restaurant & Bar

A private function room on the upper level was intended to recreate the communal dining rooms of ancient military and early monasteries. Its long tables, elaborate dining chairs, and elegant cutlery are fit for royalty.

Buyan Pte Ltd, which has been in operation for four years, had to undergo changes a few months ago. The second floor was converted into an Indian signature restaurant and terrace bar called Saha. Despite this change, Buyan retained the design of its interiors as "the murals merged very well with a new concept due to rich heritage of both Indian and Russian cultures from olden days."

But this does not mean Buyan has forgotten where its solid foundation is built: the sunny shores of Singapore. So Natalia and Julia also made sure to add touches of the local culture into this Russian resto.

"We managed to marry Russian history with Singapore heritage. We stripped the walls of any paint and plaster to expose the beautiful brickwork of the original shophouse. We could see how the house grew with different styles of masonry. The different colours of bricks guided us like the rings on the tree trunk," says Natalia.

Natalia maintains that any dining experience is a sensory pleasure, so your eyes should be as satisfied as your taste buds. Everyone behind Buyan is going the extra mile not just to deliver appetising food but also provide an overall Russian experience to remember.

"Buyan," the name of a mythical island in Russian folklore, seems like a sweet escape for those who have heard its story. The distinctive features of an izba and khoromy found in Buyan allow one to step into Russia even for just a few hours.

Buyan, in a way, shares the same philosophy of the famed island "in the richness of its menu offerings, the originality of its interior atmosphere, and the detailed authenticity of its food philosophy."

Ready to embark on a Russian design and culinary experience? Ooveedeemsya in Buyan!

Photos by Alexa Lim Xiangyun

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