The Kmart Plaza in Herndon is like a mini-United Nations, with its ethnic restaurants and shops. Thai, Vietnamese, Afghan, Indian, Mexican and Salvadoran restaurants all pull a loyal following of customers, so it seemed natural when a grocery and deli opened offering yet another region's food: Russian.

Russian Gourmet is a brightly lit, spacious store that stocks a wide variety of Russian and Eastern European delicacies.

In addition to packaged items such as Russian cherry preserves, instant borscht, Siberian herbal teas and a colorful collection of bite-sized chocolate candies, the store also has a well-stocked deli case of cheeses, salads and preservative-free cured meats. Shoppers can choose among Estonian and Georgian sausage, and Hungarian, Moscow and Gypsy salami. There are also Lithuanian cheeses, as well as tender meat- or cheese-filled piroshki that are made in the store and are perfect for a snack.

Manager Dima Ramimov, who's Russian, says the first Russian Gourmet opened in McLean eight years ago. Since then, the area's Eastern European community has grown, particularly in Herndon, Leesburg, Sterling and Fairfax, as well as in Maryland, he says. A year ago, another Russian Gourmet opened in Rockville, followed by the one in Herndon.

The Herndon market is large enough to offer catering as well, says Ramimov. Its specialty, he says, is Russian and Georgian cuisine.

Customers can order borscht (the famous Russian beet soup), blini with caviar, piroshki, Georgian-style Cornish hens, and kotleti po Kievski (Kiev-style chicken cutlets). "Many people like ordering our piroshki for parties," he says. (The price ranges from $1.25 to $2.50 each.)

There's even Russian beer and wine, he notes. But, sorry, no Russian vodka.

Russian Gourmet, 468 Elden St., Herndon, (703) 707-8181, open Monday to Friday 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 6:30 p.m.

-- Candy Sagon

Prepared salads are ready to go in Russian Gourmet's deli case.