Pel’meni | Traditional Russian Dumplings | Juneau, Alaska

Review by: Cliff Strutz

Focused Menu

Pel’meni is as uncomplicated as a restaurant can possibly be.  Only one employee works at a time. They take your order, make change (cash only!), cook, and deliver your food.  This is only possible due to the fact that pelmenis, which are traditional Russian dumplings, are the one and only food on the menu. The beverage list offers nothing more than soda pop by the can.

Not the Least Bit Fancy

You can get your pelmenis filled with either top sirloin or potato.  These dumplings are approximately 1/3 the size of a typical pierogi, but they are denser.  When an order is placed, a good 16-18 are scooped out of the freezer and tossed into one of five tall, already boiling pots.  Less than ten minutes later, they are served in a Styrofoam container with a plastic spoon.  Luxury dining, it is not!

Toppings, Spices, and Condiments

For toppings, we highly recommend “the works”, which is butter, cilantro, curry powder and hot sauce.  We were anticipating this unusual mélange of flavors to be overwhelming, but found it to be well balanced and irresistible.  We slightly preferred the beef over potato pelmenis. Its chewiness provides some pleasurable texture. Feel free to help yourself to small containers of sour cream from the refrigerator. But we found sour cream to be unnecessary on these traditional Russian dumplings.  A slice of thick rye bread comes with each order. It is welcome, as it helps soak up the leftover spices.

Pelmenis for Late-Night Revelers

Located on the wharf where cruise ships dock in warm weather, Pel’meni can be popular with tourists.   A dozen or so bars in downtown Juneau (Alaska’s capital city) are just a few steps away, which explains why they stay open until 1:30AM on weekdays and 3:30AM on weekends.  No doubt, pelmenis make for an ideal late-night drunk food.

What To Eat

Beef Pelmenis

Potato Pelmenis


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