Today we were back at Kozak, amidst rumours of two new croissant cube flavours, a week before their launch to the public. This is the city’s favourite 4D squared, flaky pastry filled with so much fruit and cream.
Since my original visit to Kozak I have been raving about them. From their extensive bar program with so many house made elements, to their immaculate baked goods, authentic Ukrainian cuisine, and always attentive and courtesy staff. Today, during dinner service on a busier Thursday, this was no different.
Seeing as we were already here we decided to explore a few of their other new offerings and menu updates, starting with drinks, (as always).
From fall to winter they have the transition seasons covered with these two new drinks. Both similar classics, elevated at their in-house bar, and transformed into something all its own.
The Double Apple contained the unexpected baijiu (Chinese rice wine), apple cordial, cointreau, and lemon juice. It had a natural orchard apple flavour to it, not sweet or tart, just lovely and just enough. Easy drinking and dangerous.
And your know the season has changed when you see hot drinks on the menu. The Glintwine is the Ukrainian version of mulled wine, made in-house and fortified with brandy and plenty of their house mix of spices. This was delicious, not winey like I only knew mulled wine to be. Honestly my new favourite version of the seasonal cocktail.
Another one that brings on winter vibes is this Strawberry milkshake, that isn’t currently on the menu, but I was able to get a sneak peak of it today. In-house Strawberry syrup, cream, and vodka. With the cookie on top, it reminded me of milk and cookies for Santa; and they should probably rename it that for the month of December. What looks dainty and innocent, packs a punch. You get the intensity of the vodka hiding behind a silky beverage that does taste like a milkshake. We all need to update our cookies and milk tradition with this adult take that Santa will appreciate.
If you have yet to visit, the one food item I recommend trying is their Pierogies, available in a bevy of plant-based and meat options. Seeing it advertised on the table, I had to try their latest filling option: wild boar. Available only for a limited time, in either steamed or fried. We had it steamed and served traditionally with sour cream and caramelized onion. I found the taste and flavour so unique. The filling had a pate-like finish and taste. Dense and starchy, the sour cream helps to highlight and add tang, whereas the after-note of sweet caramelized onion is the perfect finish.
However, if you are visiting for the first time, I suggest ordering their Kozak Board, an impressive and exciting collection of all their popular items. Some of it once available a la carte on their last season’s menu, but now only as a part of this set.
It covers a good assortment of their Pierogies, steamed Potato & Dill, Pork & Onion, and a deep fried four cheese. The latter of which is something you would dream of as a tasty bar snack with drinks. Each serving comes with a generous side of sour cream that you can dig into.
New to the regular menu and available as a taster portion here is their Salo Board. Thin slices of pork lardo, served three ways: roasted, smoked, and salt-cured, partnered with house-made sourdough and horseradish. Their homemade Sourdough is authentic and used as a base for the fattier slices of pork. The roasted Salo Lardo was fatty and light like pork belly. The smoked Salo Lardo was more like bacon, best accompanied by a spoonful
of tangy pickled beet. And the Salt-cured Salo Lardo was the fattiest out of the three. A harder texture to chew through due to the gristle, and not for everyone. It reminded me of a cross between the texture of raw sashimi and artichoke. It grows increasingly fatty on the lips and more saltier the more you chew. The sourdough was necessary here.
The Chicken Kyiv Bites over mashed potato, in a skillet was a fun modern table on these traditional meaty balls. Alone the chicken was on the bland side, but with a scoop of buttery potatoes they made for a very comforting bite.
Worth mentioning here that included with the board is Adjika a spicy red tomato and pepper based sauce the menu describes as being “mild”. Tolerable but definitely chilli forward. This is available for dipping into and much like the generous mound of Pickled Tomatoes, Pickled Cucumbers, Marinated Garlic, Sauerkraut, and Horseradish; an option to help pick up a bite or wash your palate for the next one.
The “Kovbasa” Ring Sausage was served over a bed of Stewed Sauerkraut. A long sausage rope that was not zesty or salty, but more juicy and roasted.
I really liked the two types of “Deruny” Latkes a couple made with mushrooms and a couple more with crispy bacon. The latter was slightly singed and it had an acrid burnt taste that I quite enjoyed.
And last but not least, we arrived at dessert, and the reason for our original visit. Already a viral sensation these cube croissants are one of a kind. And this season, in time for the Croissant Festival from November 1st to 14th, 2023. Kozak is one of 18 restaurants offering limited edition croissants and good reason for your to visit their location.
Here it is the Pistachio Croissant cube. A thick wall of flakey buttery croissant dough encasing a dense filling similar to pistachio gelato, but less rich, more creamy, and not at all cold. An amazing flavour and my favourite out of the four I have tried thus far, (including their original two, once available during summer). There is no mistaking the unique flavour of pistachio, not too sweet, not too overpowering, it just compliments the pastry so well.
They also have a black current and cream filled croissant cube. This one is not limited edition, but part of their new fall offerings menu. Like the pistachio I appreciated that this wasn’t too sweet, but more tart and tangy, with the cream helping to mellow out some of that punchy acid in the fruit. If I had to choose one, it would be the pistachio. And now seeing the flavour possibilities I suggested that they do alcoholic versions of these boxes, only available for dine in at night. A boozy berry filling, a mix of their in house infused vodkas, using their vodka soaked cherries as a filling. Much like their rum baba below.
Half cake half dessert sponge their Rum baba is a fun one. You can’t miss the nuance of the liquor in this, as it transforms a regular dessert into a unique indulgence and a soft starchy cake.
And for those who like their croissants, but cannot commit to a whole block, their strawberry and cream croissant-muffin is worth your attention. It has the texture of a croissant and the shape of a muffin, coated with coarse sugar and stuffed with whipped cream and strawberries. A classic treat remixed in a way that makes it more brunch and snack friendly.
Worth noting is that they now have giftable boxes for their best selling chocolate babka. So you can order a slice for yourself and get a whole loaf to give away to a friend or as a host of hostess gift. The box a striking orange with traditionally dressed Ukrainian characters and buildings drawn by one of their staff members.
In closing, there are so many reasons why Kozak is my current favourite restaurant to recommend. Their creativity knows no bounds, and I cannot wait to see what else they have in store for all the seasons after fall, and all the croissant cube possibilities.
Kozak Ukrainian Restaurant
1 W Cordova St, Vancouver, BC V6C 3N8