Food for the Thoughtful

Such a premium is placed here on a restaurant’s being fashionable that it can be hard to tell which ones actually serve good food. For the hip crowd, as long as it’s one of Arkady Novikov’s see-and-be-seen spots, it’s good. Alexey Zimin, restaurant critic for Vedomosti, points the way to three of his favorite eateries in Moscow from a purely gastronomic perspective.

Seiji At three years old, Seiji is an old-timer these days—and the city’s most important Japanese restaurant. Chef Seiji Kusano organizes delivery of the freshest fish from Japan. He creates dishes with a contemporary twist, with influences from Europe, but in carefully measured doses so Moscow sushi fans get what they’re used to—though at much higher quality. Dinner, $200. At 5/2 Komsomolsky Prospekt; 7-495/246-7624.

Barashka It’s Azerbaijani cuisine. Yes, it’s also a Novikov. I like it because the simple, marketlike, peasant Caucasian food is transformed into a pleasant modern package. They use precise, simple recipes. They have good salads. And they have all kinds of stewed ragout-style dishes, meat and potatoes, and shashlik. Other ethnic Azerbaijani restaurants, such as Karetny Dvor, don’t measure up. Dinner, $100. At 20/1 Ulitsa Petrovka; 7-495/200-4714.

Semifreddo Of all the Italian restaurants, I like this one the best. Its Sicilian chef offers creative food made with top ingredients; it’s sophisticated but also light on the stomach. All the seafood is good. I especially like the classical Italian salad—calamari with potato, which is served warm. The dessert here is also delicious. Note: Semifreddo is expensive, even by Moscow standards. Dinner, $220. At 2 Ulitsa Rossolimo; 7-495/ 248-6169;