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NOUVELLE RUSSIAN Russian food conjures up bland images of black bread, boiled potatoes and cabbage soup. The stereotype often runs true, but on Sakhalin, it's possible to sample what Russian dining can achieve when it exploits what's available locally.

The place to go is Russian Kitchen, or Slavianka in Russian, in the center of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Found directly across the street from the not-so-secret offices of the secret police, it is reputed to be Sakhalin's best restaurant. Diners come from as far away as the northernmost town of Okha, and the venue is fast gaining fame among tourists...

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