Restaurant review: Masu – Asian bistro

3 09 2017


Masu Asian bistro was opened in Helsinki at the end of August by former 2 Michelin star chef Hans Välimäki and Restamax Group. Masu has been operating in Tampere several years and now it arrived to capital city.

Restaurant Masu is part of Asian cuisine complex. It is located at the second floor; at the first floor there is Säm – Asian bar & kitchen. Masu tries to be more sophisticated but also relaxed. Säm serves street food, you actually walk trough it when entering to Masu. However, many of the dishes are same in both spots.

In the past at the same location was Italian restaurant Vespa, but it seems that concept was not any more successul.

You can choose 4 or 7 course dinner but ordered first starters Pork Buns Miso grated roasted pork loin with pineapple salsa and warm Nanohana rabe and Nakame seaweed salad Broccoli, tomatoes, marinated seaweed with garlic-sesam dressing.

Buns were delicious, pork crispy and tasty. Salsa matched well to this dish. And must say that 2 pieces is a lot for starter but this can be ordered also as main course.

The warm salad was tasty, and because of the soy and seaweed, a bit too salty.  The portion is big for a starter.

For main courses had Ca Kho To Fried crispy pike perch, broccoli, tamarind, soy-chili caramel and black radish and Hot Paa Naam Tok Mushrooms woked in sesam oil, nudels, soy, leon grass, chili, mint, roasted onion and peanuts.

Pike pirch was extremely well prepared, crispy but not dry. Combination of spices and ingredients paired perfectly. But as there was already noodles in the bowl, there was no need to add Gohan as side dish. Would not have ordered rice if waitress would not have asked.

The portion is big; plenty of vegetables and noodles. The dish mentions the mushrooms as the main ingredient, but there were not many to be found. The taste of the starter was too similar to this main dish.

Ordered also Kimchi as side dish but as portions were that big just tasted it.

Dessert was Banana King Kong. Had to order that because of the name! Deep fried banana, salt toffee and vanilla ice-cream was delicious. Can recommend it!

Wine list, when it comes to red’s, is quite short and prices are quite expensive for casual bistro. Had so familiar The Velvet Devil, which is one of the favourite Merlot wines.

 

Portions are well prepared and stylish looking. Main courses are large, which means that you do not necessarily need additional side dishes. Several vegan options was also positive.

As there are only sticks on the table when you arrive, would have appriciated spoons with main courses and fork with dessert, got then only small spoon. As ordered main courses were partly like soups, it would have been nice to have few sips of the broth. Also needed finger with dessert to help with. One could also ask for those but practiced service should notice those beforehand.

Location is price, remember to ask window table and you see the Park Esplanade, Swedish Teater and restaurant Teatteri opposite to Masu.

With some fine-tuning Masu will be one of the top Asian cuisine restaurants in Helsinki.

 

REVIEW: FOOD 4-/5 – SERVICE 4/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4+/5

http://www.ravintola.fi/ravintola/masu-asian-bistro-helsinki/

 





Restaurant review: Oh Lala! – Playa del Carmen, Mexico

13 08 2017

Usually write about restaurants in Helsinki, Finland, but if find nice restaraurant worth to try outside of territory, you shall find the story here.

Travelled to Playa del Carmen during summer holidays and found a unique restaurant which differs from all others. Oh Lala! was opened in January, 2011, by co-owners George and Mikaela With a total of 9 tables divided between the indoor and outdoors seating, and an open kitchen, Chef George, Mikaela and professional staff, make sure that every visit to Oh Lala! is to be remembered.


Mikaela spends her time with customers in dining room. She told that originally restaurant was opened around the corner, which was not the perfect place due to by-passing carbage trucks. But existing location, although it is not by busy 5th Avenue, which is actually good, seems perfect.

Menu is actually quite versatile and international, but also local dishes like grouper fish is available.

Dinner starts with appetizers, restaurant served Foccacia with parma ham and mozzarella and as vegan version 3 different kinds of cherry tomatoes, olives served with the house vinagrette.

For starters ordered Shrimp and Scallop skewer and Mushroom salad.

Skewer was very well spiced, shrimps were kind of wrapped around scallops. Cherry tomatoes are not so easy to eat, which I noticed in Kappeli on Mid-Summer, therefore took extra attention when trying to pick them up.

The dressing made the salad.  Mushrooms, lettuce and cherry tomatoes made for a simple, but very tasty dish.

For main course had Octopus with potatoes and green salad and Red Curry.

Octopus “tower” was impressive piece of art. Again well spiced and salted and what was most important, it was not soft and chewy as it unfortunately many time is. Crisp and firm structure and delicious side dish, although “only” potatoes, guaranteed enjoyment.

When ordering curry, waiter asked how hot curry can be. Ordered strongest one and indeed it was spicy and hot. For country of salsas, like habanero, curry was prepared to meet the requirements of spice enthustiac.

Mexico is growing wine producer country, which means that many of the wines are still quite young.

Casa Madero’s Casa Grande Gran Reserva Seleccion de Barricas 2012 is produced from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot grapes and it meets even the most demanding needs. Bouquet was nice and taste enough full-bodied. One could even see from the glass that is has been stored some time. And this also meant that price was at least at the same level as European wines in Europe.



Dessert drinks are also international. Difficult to imagine how many restaurants serve grappa in country of tequila.


Oh Lala! is restaurant worth to visit in Playa del Carmen. It is one of the most expensive but if you compare it to restaurant prices in Finland, more affordable.

Food was excellent, service professional and dining room cozy. Some food scent from the open kitchen, but it made one more hungry. And part of uniqueness was, that co-owner Mikaela spent time in dining room discussing with customers and creating relaxed athmosphere in fine dining restaurant.

 

REVIEW: FOOD 4,5/5 – SERVICE 5-/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4,5/5

http://www.ohlalabygeorge.com/





Wine review: Matsu El Recio

16 07 2017

 

First time I saw this kind of a “hilarious” series of Spanish red wines, was couple of years ago at some wine fair in Helsinki. Already then I took the cards of the wines to study them more closely later.

Several times have ordered basic Matsu El Picaro in restaurants and it has always been enoyable. Medium-bodied, almost full bodied and pairs nicely with meny dishes. Therefore expectations for Matsu El Recio were maybe to high.

Matsu wines come from an area called Toro with very favourable conditions for obtaining a good quality grape. The climate in this area is a continental climate with an Atlantic influence. It is an area that experiences extreme temperature changes, reaching 11 degrees below zero in winter and 37 degrees in summer. There is also a considerable temperature contrast between night and day, which favours an optimum maturation of the grape. In addition, the annual rainfall is very low, so the risk of diseases appearing is also very low and therefore grapes grow in a perfectly healthy state.

Vineyards produce the Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo) variety; between 80 and 100 years of age and have a very low yield per vine.

THE LOOK

What was attracted my interest, was the label. Or actually series of labels. In this wine there is a middle aged man.

Color of the wine is quite deep red but not as brownish as I expected-

THE NOSE

Ripe plum, cranberry and sour cherry. Quite mild, actually difficult to find anything, but somhow acidity came through.

THE TASTE

Regarding to notes, wine should be full-bodied, but this one was not. Would say it medium-bodied. And acidity and tannins dominated also in taste as well noticed in bouquet. Also spiciness was obvious. Not my favourite.

 


 

Must say that this Matsu El Recio was dissappointment. I tried to find some wine error, acidity maybe was, but could not actually identify. Cork was ok also. Maybe it is just so, that this wine is too light and blend for my taste.

However, suggest to try El Picaro which is also affordable. I am now wondering if I shall try El Viejo at all. Any experience?

Facts:

Alcohol: 14,5% by volume
Acidity: 4,4 g/l
Energy: 80 kcal/100 ml
Closure: Natural cork

 

REVIEW: OVERALL GRADE 2/5 – BANG FOR THE BUCK + / +++

http://bodegamatsu.com/en/





Restaurant review: Kappeli

9 07 2017

Restaurant Kappeli was opened to the public 1867 as summer restaurant but since 1970′s it has been open all year round. Latest renowation was in autumn 2011 still keeping same traditions in building structure.

In the summer you can also dine at the outside terrace, which is at the end of the building behind main terrace. If you want to sit in the middle of the main terrace but inside, ask for oriel window table for two. It is small but charming and one can even watch bands and singers at the stage opposite to the restaurant. We dined in that small glass walled space on Mid-Summer Eve.

Kappeli - reijosfood.com

Menu today looks tempting and first time it included vegan dish. But as it was Mid-Summer, it was nice to start the dinner with Vodka Martini. Unfortunately, as drink order was taken at the same time as food orders, starter came earlier than aperitif.

For starters ordered Kappeli’s Green salad and Prawn salad and smoky chilli dressing Citrus and tarragon marinated prawns, fried potatoes, samphire, cherry tomatoes seasoned with sorrel and egg.

Prawns were fresh and tasty. Potatoes were extremely delicious, they were cooked somehow differently than ever seen before. I do no recommend to try to spoon the tomatoes with fork, they might surprise you…

As green salad was so basic, no picture or story.

As main courses had Chargrilled whitefish, fried scallops and a fish roe and crème fraîche sauce Almond potato purée seasoned with dill, grilled spring cucumber and carrots and Broad bean and tomato ragù Deep-fried kale, fried mushrooms, macerated mini plum tomatoes and vegan cheese.

Long names for portions and all ingredients well listed.

Whitefish is favorite Finnish fish, light and not greasy at all like salmon. Side dishes were delicious and paired well with the main dish.

Ragu was made of Finnish invention called “Härkis“. It is made from broad beans and also available in the supermarkets. Vegan dishes are not basically meant to look or taste like meat, but this one was made so well that could have thought it was minced meat like ragu usually consists of. With spaghetti would be perfect, made like that.

 

For wine had organic Savia Viva from Pares Balta. Paired well with all dishes enjoyed. Take a look at the label! You can see some historic pictures from Finland, including Kappeli.

Kappeli is a perfect place to try Finnish kitchen in the center of events. Most of the diners are tourists especially now when it was Mid-Summer Eve.

Food was the best one so far compared to previous visits. Especially ragu surprised.

Service was polite and professional, but as mentioned earlier, aperitif was brought too late.

 

REVIEW: FOOD 4+/5 – SERVICE 4/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4+/5

http://www.kappeli.fi/index.php?id=etusivu

 

 





Restaurant review: Taverna Vaelsa

18 06 2017


Ristorante e Taverna Vaelsa opened spring 2015 at the Market Square, at Pohjoisesplanadi 9 in the historic Govinius building. At the 2nd floor there is restaurant serving with wider menu and downstairs is taverna, which serves pizzas and some salads. Vaelsan’s kitchen combines local food and classic Italian cuisine with a modern touch.

Visited taverna at late lunch time on Saturday and tried pizzas. Ordered them from the menu under Pizze Speciali headline.

Chose Bresaola Mozzarella, Rucola, Bresaola, Parmigiano, Lemon Vinaigrette and Vegana Zucchini, Paprika, Eggplant, Parsley, Vegan Cheese.

Pizza Bresaola was delicious, but quite dry as there was not tomato sauce. Pizza base was quite thick and had to cut quite hard pieces. There was enough fresh rucola, which is not always the case when pizza includes rocket salad.


Pizza Vegana was also tasty and it was pleaseant surprise to see that taverna served also vegan version including cheese. That definately increases points.


Wines were a little bit problematic, only 3 red wines available and 2 out of them had run out and replaced with other brands. Of course pizzas do not necessarily require full-bodied wines but for instance the one we enoyed was quite light.

Location is excellent, just opposite to Market Square. And if you get window table like us, it is nice to watch the crowds outside.

Service was a little bit limping, maybe due to busy lunch hour, which was ending. If you want to visit ristorante, better make table reservation, to taverna you can just walk in and check if there are free tables.

REVIEW: FOOD 4-/5 – SERVICE 3,5/5 – OVERALL GRADE 4-/5

http://vaelsa.fi/taverna/





Restaurant review: Bistro Telakka in Lauttasaari

20 05 2017

Summer restaurant Bistro Telakka opened it’s doors just before MayDay. First warm weekend in Helsinki and had to have late lunch there. Telakka operates in the premises of Yacht Club Sinbad like Blue Peter in HSK. By the way, Telakka means shipyard in English.

Restaurant renews its menu every summer and this year it seemed to be very promising. More ambitious and more vegan versions.

For starters ordered Vietnamese summer rolls, ginger-sweet chili dressing. Extremely healthy version of so called spring rolls but as it is summer (almost), rolls were cold, not stir-fried as spring rolls usually are. Carrot dominated as filling and coriander as a taste. Promising start as said before about the menu.

Main courses enjoyed this time were Salmon and tiger prawn smoked at Telakka, asparagus, summer potatoes and lime hollandaise and Roasted Cauliflower Ras el Hanout, warm soy bean-millet salad, lemon yoghurt.

Fish dish looked luxorius as prawn was placed on top of salmon. Salmon was perfectly smoked, not too dry and very soft. Summer potatoes will hopefully be new ones when they are available because of the name. Fried potatoes are not that summery.

Ras el hanout or Rass el hanout is a spice mix from North Africa. It plays a similar role in North African cuisine as garam masala does in Indian cuisine.  Light and tasty dish perfect for a summer day, but it was more like a salad or a started dish when talking of the serving size.

Avarage price of wine bottle on short list is about 35€, which is really affordable concerning wine prices in Helsinki restaurants in general.

Telakka bistro - reijosfood.com

 

Telakka bistro is excellent supplementary dining place in Lauttasaari. Food is excellent when it comes to outlook and taste. With existing prices bistro is quite expensive compared to size of portions and the interior of restaurant.

Terrace outside tempts to dine outside but as May has been one of the coldest in Finland so far, one should have dine inside. We were lucky to have sunny afternoon and could eat at the terrace.

It is a little bit difficult to review service as you have to order from the bar inside. Portions are brought to the tables, no need to pick them by yourself.

REVIEW: FOOD 4+/5 – SERVICE 4-/5 – OVERALL GRADE – 4-/5

http://www.bistrotelakka.fi/

 

 





Restaurant review: Venn Helsinki

1 05 2017

Restaurant VENN Helsinki was established in late April 2017. It replaced Michel, which more restaurant than bar, which VENN aims to be. VENN positiones itself as wine bar and obviously there is going to be new nationwide chain as city is added after the name of the restaurant.

Menu is short including modern pizzas, burgers and salads. Wines are reasonable priced, which of course increases attractivess of VENN.

Decided to try burgers for late lunch.

Avocado burger consisted of avocado, grilled vegetables, salad and piri-piri mayo. Tasty burger with big slices of avocado, zucchini and red peppers.  A nice choice as a vegan version, and different from other burgers served in other restaurants.

VENN burger included 200g minced meat steak, comte cheese, grilled zucchini, tomato and horseradish mayo. Steak was ordered as medium but it was medium – due to redness of meat. And could not find zucchini this time. Otherwise burger was very tasty and fresh.

For both burgers ordered potato blocks which paired well main dish. Other options would have been potato chips (big ones) or salad.

For wine had Californian Barefoot Merlot, which was classified as Velvety red on wine list. Wine has good combo of cherry, plum, and even chocolate. A mocha finish is complemented by hints of smoky vanilla oak.

Decoration is cozy, same big bar in the middle of room dominates the space. Windows open on two sides, both pedestrian streets, but one of them is in the summer time famous outdoor night club with live music.

Venn is part of S-Group restaurant complex in old buidings in one of the best location in Helsinki. New concept will be more popular than Michel was due to more relaxed athmosphere and easy food. Drinks and wines are now main part of operation.

REVIEW: FOOD 4-/5 – SERVICE 4-/5 – OVERALL GRADE 3,5/5








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