It was one year ago that I was craving eastern European dumplings known as pelmeni, giving them a try at Café Yarmarka. The menu listed beef, pork, chicken, turkey and lamb options, but while I liked the many options, I found the pelmeni a little mushy and bland, and the sauce lacking in kick. I longed for the dumplings I’d eaten at Pel’Meni in Juneau, and wondered whether they were available in Bellingham.
One year later, I finally took the trip north and found our favorite pelmeni place. And they’re just as I remember them. Pel’Meni was empty at 10pm, but anticipating the post-drinking rush. There’s no menu, just a choice of potato and meat dumplings. Friends and I got one order of each (sixteen dumplings for $6), though I found I’d prefer a three-to-one ratio of meat to potato. Open the package and the scent of curry signals good eating ahead. I like mine with lots of hot sauce and just a splash of vinegar – along with a generous amount of sour cream. Freshly boiled, these are a perfect snack.
As in Juneau, there’s a record player and plenty of vinyl selections. I’d been to the third Pel’Meni place in Madison, Wisconsin – but that’s since closed. The good news is that there’s talk of opening an outlet here in Seattle. That plan’s been in the works for a long time, though, so I’m not sure when it will come to fruition. Soon, hopefully. I can’t help but think that Pel’Meni will be popular in the University District or Capitol Hill, especially since it stays open until the wee hours of the morning, pumping out perfect little dumplings.