By Alan Jambulatov
I like to consider myself a connoisseur of haute cuisine, a fancy term for I greatly enjoy food. As such, over the last few years of living in Astana, Kazakhstan, I alongside friends and family have sought out to attend every restaurant in the city. But today, Wednesday April 17th, 2019, I frequented the best restaurant, ever. No Ritz Carlton, Italian Grandmother, or Michelin Star chef could, as it stands, compete with this gastronomically and atmospherically rich establishment—Zina. The restaurant that shines brighter and tastes better than all others. Why? Because the head chef and owner of the restaurant, a renowned cook in Kazakhstan, stops at nothing short of perfection in creating his masterpiece of a restaurant.
The attention to detail, from the tiniest design element—making sure it contributes to the warm and vibrant feel—to the imported, personally-farmed, or self-made (cheese, sourdough bread) food and equipment—tuned and tried to a fault. Марченко Артём Алексеевич has created a beautiful symphony of culinary art by allowing his chef’s creativity, cultivated through years of sweat and experimentation, to run wild. His menu is seamless, choosing only dishes he would be willing to eat every day—meaning he is constantly adding and adapting—while also perfecting each and every single recipe. For instance, before adding pizza to his already culinarily diverse ensemble, he flew in one of the world’s pizza-making champion, 3 years running, from Italy to teach him how to make the best pie possible. Even with his extravagant expenditures, he keeps the prices at a low, considering the level, making sure that anyone could try the decadence he presents—and it’s working with fully booked tables 10 days ahead for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Overall, at this moment in my culinary venture, Zina—an ode to the chef’s grandmother—is by far the best restaurant that I have ever visited (and I didn’t even delve into desserts, which, by the way, are to die for).