Pel’meni is as uncomplicated as a restaurant can possibly be. Only one employee works at a time, as they take your order, make change (cash only!), cook, and deliver your food. This is only possible due to pelmenis, a traditional Russian dumpling, are the only food on the menu.
You can get your pelmenis filled with top sirloin or potato. These dumplings are approximately 1/3 the size of a typical pierogie, but 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!
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, as the chewiness provided a little more texture. Feel free to help yourself to small containers of sour cream from the refrigerator, but we found that unnecessary. A slice of thick rye bread comes with each order, to help soak up the leftover spices.
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 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.