The need for street food in Kyiv is satisfied by approximately 50%. Historically, street food in Kyiv has been promoted by spontaneous private trade for many years. In Soviet times the scarce range of street food consisted of pies and chebureky, cotton candy and lollipops. Kyiv city folklore of that period abounds in black humor about “granny´s pies” with all kinds of weird fillings. Obviously, back-yard production did not guarantee any standards of quality and sometimes was detrimental to one’s health
The Kyiv perepіchka was the first legitimate street food. The kiosk was opened fifty years ago at the grocery department of the Central Department Store in the capital. The legendary street food is offered to this day at the same place just off the corner of Khreschatyk and Bohdana Khmelnytskoho St. After having changed several owners Kyiv perepіchka did not change its signature dish – deep fried sausage in yeast dough. People usually buy sodas, juice, coffee or hot tea to go with it. One of the urban legends says that a window with the first street food was invented by the central grocery store to get rid of expired sausages. Capital patriots indignantly reject this version, praising the “true” juicy meat sausage and crispy batter. Perepichka’s taste “in the past and nowadays” is discussed on online forums, you can read about it in the reviews of tourists on Trip Advisor and you can always see long queues by the kiosk. Perepichka costs UAH 5.50.
Since the second half of the 1990s and early 2000 shawarma has been the main street food in Kyiv and at the same time the main headache for the city authorities. Until now, the lion´s share of kiosks selling shawarma has been operating illegally and the quality of the food sold there still remains unpredictable. Samir’s Shawarma in the building of the Bessarabskiy Market is one of the time-tested outlets with a long-standing reputation. The quality of Samir’s shawarma is dictated by the location of the kiosk in the tourist center of the city and 24-7 operating hours. In daytime Samir’s main customers are white collar workers. The busiest time of the workday and the longest queues are from 1 pm till 3 pm. Young party-goers come to Samir’s place at night and in the morning. Regular customers claim that the most delicious shawarma is made with chicken and cheese. The price depends on the size – from UAH 15 to UAH 30.
Domestic street food turned into an industry in 2004, when the first foreign operators entered the Ukrainian market. The most successful among them is the Hungarian Fornetti, which today has a franchise network of six hundred points of sale. Fornetti is a chain of mini bakeries that heat up frozen semi-products made of dough. The product range includes 70 types of baked goods, including buns, baguettes, pies with various fillings, cheesecakes, sausage rolls and pizza. Mini puffs are filled with cheese, chicken, mushrooms, cabbage, apples, cherries and apricots (UAH 3.50 for 100 g).
Three years ago the total number of Georgian mini-bakeries in Kyiv was no more than two dozen. Today, the city is experiencing a boom of hot lavash bread baked in tandoor ovens. Kyivans are attracted by the quality, prices and wholesomeness of baked products made in ovens, the main ingredients of which are water, flour, salt and fresh yeast. The most popular Caucasian bread in Kyiv is Georgian and Armenian lavash. Georgian lavash has different shapes: round (matnakash), stretched (puri) and boat-shaped (shoti). Armenian lavash is thin and looks like a sheet of paper. Flat bread ovens are also used to bake khachapuri with suluguni and herbs, kebabs in dough, lobiani with beans, sweet puffs called kada. A shoti costs UAH 5, a khachapuri costs UAH 20.
Diner is a successful example of a new wave of street food created by Anna and Stanislav Zavertaylo, who also own the chain of mini-cafes Coffee Nostra. Today Diner chain consists of three kiosks in downtown – in the Podil district, on Lva Tolstoho Sq. and near the Golden Gates. The first kiosk in Kontraktova Sq. is the most popular among Kyivans. People line up for its burgers, fries and panini even from other areas of the city. The kiosk sells 8 kinds of burgers – five varieties with beef, fish, vegan and some special recipe burgers that are introduced every two months. Panini is filled with salami, ham, chicken breasts and arugula with mozzarella. Quotes from the menu: classic burger – UAH 20. Cheeseburger – UAH 30. Fish burger – UAH 27. Panini with arugula and mozzarella – UAH 26.
Furgoneta van is another representative of the street food segment opened in late summer at the intersection of Gorky and Fizkultury streets. On its menu you will find beef and chicken burgers, sandwiches with grilled vegetables, ham, salmon and avocado, wok egg noodles with chicken, beef and vegetarian noodles with vegetables. Among soups of the day: miso soup, tom yam and mushroom cream soup. Prices vary between UAH 29 – 47. Owners and ideologists of the project Oleh Kurylenko and Alla Ovsyannikova call Furgoneta a “representative of the new generation of street food”, because it is not just a place that sells street food, but also a place to socialize and relax. Entertainment and new proposals are actively promoted on its Facebook page. There you can see Furgoneta chefs singing while cooking, look through photos from the last Halloween party or find some information about sushi days.
On the menu of the new Burger farm snack bar on Vorovskoho St. you will find classic burgers with beef and chicken, cheeseburgers, home-made potatoes, falafel, sandwiches and hot vitamin drinks. Owners of the place name among their strong points the use of fresh farm meat and vegetables from the market purchased from a trusted supplier, exclusive homemade minced meat, tahini and BBQ sauces, and comfortable benches next to the kiosk. Some prices: chicken or veal cheeseburger – UAH 35. Falafel – UAH 25.
The potential of street food in Kyiv is confirmed by urban street food festivals, the fourth of which was held in October on the parking lot of the Darynok market. The goals and objectives of the event were outlined by its organizers in the following way: “We know that it would be nice if in the streets of Kyiv people could buy a herring with potatoes no worse than in Amsterdam, black pudding with buckwheat no worse than in Krakow or the same sausages that are sold on the streets of Vienna. Therefore, these and other European cities became our reference points in terms of quality, taste and availability of food for take-out. To improve the quality and taste of street food, we hold regular events where you will be introduced to new brands or present your own product to the public. The mission of the festival is to change people’s attitudes towards street food. We believe that street food can be really tasty and wholesome. We gather like-minded people to make a difference, set new standards and make the city a good place to live”.