18 February 2016

Doors open for Russian who runs restaurant in Harbin

Doors open for Russian who runs restaurant in HarbinTimur Aliev is looking for a business partner to open Russian restaurants in Beijing and Shanghai.

"I know it's not easy, but this is my dream. I want more Chinese to enjoy Russian cuisine."

The 60-year-old Russian closed more than 50 restaurants in Russia's Vladivostok seven years ago and settled down with his family in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, to open a Western-style restaurant called Global Traveler.

"I fell in love with China during my first visit in 2000. Harbin shares the same climate with Russia because they're so close. There are also a lot of Russian cultural influences and that means food too," he says.

Aliev's new business venture tripled its profits in 2012 as the restaurant became a hot spot for locals, who are keen to hold their wedding celebrations there, too.

"Heilongjiang is important for Sino-Russian exchanges. It has a unique cultural atmosphere because of the influence of Russian culture," says Qi Wenhai, a professor of Russian studies at Heilongjiang University.

The success story of Harbin Churin Food is one of the best examples of the close relationship between China and Russia.

Founded in 1900 by Ivan Churin, the company is well known for its lieba (a kind of Russian bread) and lidaosi (Lithuanian sausage). The local government even made lieba one of the province's intangible cultural heritage items in March 2007.

"I have eaten Russian foods like lieba and lidaosi since childhood. They are an inseparable part of my life," says Han Xueying, a Harbin resident.