M y family and I suffered a tragic loss. Our beloved Chinese restaurant Chef Wong’s, where we celebrated birthdays and anniversaries,...

Nargis Cafe

My family and I suffered a tragic loss. Our beloved Chinese restaurant Chef Wong’s, where we celebrated birthdays and anniversaries, had shut down. It was cheap, it was good and it was close to home. Since our loss, we went back to our roots and started hitting up Russian restaurants.

My family came to America from a small town in the Ukraine in the late 70’s, and I have eaten Russian food most of my natural life. We are connoisseurs of the cuisine. Much like the Chinese, Russia has different regions, thus different cuisines. Borscht is Ukrainian. Pelemnia/Varanki are Siberian. Shashlik (shish-kebab) is more of a Southern Russian food from Baku, Tashkent, an Uzbekistan region. We tend to call the people from the southern region "Bucharian," and most live in Forest Hills, Queens, or what I call "Bucharlem ". There aren't many Bucharian restaurants in Brooklyn, but one spot, called Nargis Café and located on Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn, has been our go-to spot lately.

On any given day the place is packed to the brim with people and they do not take reservations for parties 6 and under. The secret to reserving a table: my pops always makes a reservation for 6 and says the last person dropped out. It just goes to show that you should never trust a Russian Jew from Brooklyn.

As you walk into the place, which is decorated like a Russian farmhouse meets the inside of a genie lamp, the Russian language can be heard buzzing in the back ground, along with the clanking of shot glasses filled with ice cold vodka. I know the menu like the back of my hand and here are a few favorites we get:

Shashlik ($3-$4 each):  Lamb, chicken lulya kebab and chicken hearts. One thing Nagris Café does perfectly is their shash-shlik. Perfectly spiced with hints of cumin, onion and yogurt come through. Their Luyla kebab, which is chopped lamb mixed with red peppers and spices, is one of the best in Brooklyn.

Chiberki ($2): A light dough stuffed with raw spiced meat and then flash-fried to a golden brown crisp. This is the Russian version of a Jamaican beef patty. It’s a little greasy, but nothing a little vodka won’t wipe away. I bet any Ras-Clat, bumpa would love this dish.

Herring ($6): No matter the region in Russia, this is a staple on any dinner table. A fillet herring topped with raw white onions, corn oil and vinegar. It’s served with boiled potatoes, which are mixed with butter and parsley.  Do yourself a favor, put a piece of herring on top of the potato and eat it. Bring a change of underwear because the ones you have on might get wet.

Spiced French fries ($3.50): Frozen french fries, fried with paprika, garlic and parsley. Although the potatoes are french fries, this dish is surprisingly good and we order it every time.

We also had a radish salad and a few other salads but I hate radish and, honestly, at this point I was on my 6th shot of Vodka and not really interested in eating salad. Besides, I was busy drunk text with this girl I met at Le Baron the night before. By the way, it's B.Y.O.Vodka in a flask. You know how we do.

There are a lot of “where to eat” lists lately on Russian food. They work if you’re a tourist from Nebraska. Other than that, they fucking suck! Just because Nargis is not located in Brighton Beach doesn’t mean it should be looked over. Honestly, half of the restaurants in Brighton actually suck and cater to the Goyum. I won’t mention the name of a place we last dined in Brighton Beach. The food sucked, but somehow made it onto the Village Voices Best list. Our bill at Nagris came to $120, including the tip. The food is excellent, so stop reading those terrible lists and venture outside of Brighton Beach.

Nargis Cafe 
2818 Coney Island Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11235 
(718) 872-7888 


  1. Totally agreed. I love this place. My friends and I go there after the beach in the summer and eat til we hate ourselves...

  2. Russian food is a cuisine I haven't really delved into, but those Spiced French Fries look delish! Not to mention the appeal of BYOV! May just have to try out Nargis Cafe!

    Bummer about your Chinese food joint being closed! We recently went to a fabulous place we think you would appreciate (well, minus the long commute to Flushing...)