Restaurant review: Gaijin

30 03 2013

Gaijin is Japanese word meaning “non Japanese” or “alien. As well as Farang is a Thai word for foreigner and especially for Europeans “non Thai”.

These both words are used in the restaurant names of Farang and Gaijin, second restaurant of chefs Tomi Björk and Matti Wiberg. Gaijin offers flavours by combining traditional Japanese and Korean dishes with foods from North China. Most of the dishes have been designed to be shared, usually two set menus with possibility to order wine packages. Because Gaijin is popular place you must prepare to reserve table enough early. And restaurant seemed to be full after 5 PM.

Restaurant was honoured with Bib Gourmand by Michelin Guide next year after opening in April 2011 and again 2013. It is located on the corner of Bulevardi and Yrjönkatu next to third restaurant of Björk and Wiberg, Boulevard Social.

We decided to trust on Chef’s skills and ordered tasting menu named MENU GAIJIN. BUT … table reservation started at 5PM and after  2,5 hours we should leave. BUT… we just finished and asked for coffee/tea and got 15 minutes extra time. BUT… after dining several times at so great Farang we were a little bit disappointed with the intensity of flavours. BUT….


green shell mussel, yuzu-mirin dressing, pickled noodle

Gaijin Mussels

Excellent performance by the chef. One of the best experiecens of the dinner.


pork belly, kimchi mayonnaise, pickled cucumber, soft bread

Prok Bun

Quite big soft bread made wonder if this was fast food but it was not. Nice!


sashimi of the day


Sashimis were great. Finns and Japanese are close to when it comes to raw fish. Could eat more….!


glazed eel, duck liver, nori-bread, cherry

Lady is not keen on foie gras, no problem. Otherwise quite tasty portion.


‘saikyo’-miso marinated salmon, apple, cucumber, pickled daikon, lemon jam, walnut, marinated roe, truffle-dashi broth

Miso Salmon

For Lady most prefered dish. OK for me, but expected more flavours.


grilled chicken marinated in sweet plum soy


Chicken was pretty OK but it lacked some taste. Unfortunately two pieces were raw


fried scallop, sesame-soy dressing, spring onion, seaweed caviar


Again, nice BUT……You can create more taste of scallops if you fry them a little bit more


braised lamb neck, grilled and smoked fennel, lamb broth


Great meat especially in Easter!



green tea flavored white chocolate mousse, meringue, granny smith apple, szechuan pepper


Dessert was best part of dinner. Usually Japanese do not eat dessert but these were really delicious

Restaurant Gaijin is cozy and relaxing place to eat. If you decide to order Menu Gaijin, best time to enjoy it is after 8PM. We started dinner at 5PM and should leave at 0730PM. There are dining slots for customers as in many other restaurants today. We were too slow. Go to Farang if you like spicy food, dine at Gaijin if you prefer milder tastes; beginning of journey to more spicy world.

Service is great as you could expect and served by copy cat cute waitresses. They know wines and food which is important.


Mämmi – traditional Finnish Easter pudding

29 03 2013

Mämmi is traditional Finnish Easter dessert which might make you to hesitate when you see the appearance of it. Any thoughts?


Mämmi, also sometimes called “Easter Surprise” (in Swedish Memma) is made of water, rye flour and powdered malted rye. Generally Mämmi is eaten cold with either milk or cream and sugar, and less commonly with vanilla sauce. To be honest I am not the fan of this dessert but like to maintain the traditions of Finnish cooking and dining. But you can encourage to try dessert by serving it a little bit more attractive way than Finns are used to.

Mämmi w creamMämmi with cream

Nowadays you can purchase Mämmi all year around as frozen but years ago it was only available at Easter time. I have not seen Mämmi anywhere else than in Finland but propably you could get it in Sweden because of quite similar food cultures. Wait, of course you can get it in those places where Finns have moved for instance in Fuengirola, Spain from Finnish owned shops.

If you want to know more about this dessert, just click links:

Restaurant review: Le Havre

22 03 2013

Le Havre dining room

Hotel Seurahuone Helsinki, located by the Market Square and housed in a building designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, held its grand opening on 8 December, 1833. The hotel relocated to its current premises in Kaleva Palace opposite of Railway Station in 1913. At that time hotel restaurant was famous, but during the past years it has been “trying to find itself”. Therefore for several years I have not paid any attention to hotel Seurahuone restaurants or bar Socis, but opening of new brasserie restaurant was of course reason to visit and write a review.

Bar SocisHotel Seurahuone

With the name Le Havre, restaurant pays tribute to the site where it originally situated, the harbour, and to the most genuine core of European food culture, the French brasserie cuisine.  Therefore brasserie is used in restaurant name. Le Havre was opened 1st of March 2013. Menu has been created by chef Henrik Poulsen who has been behind of several similar restaurant openings. On Sundays restaurant serves brunch which has become quite popular way to attract customers on otherwise so quiet day.

Entrance to the restaurant is via hotel doors. When you come in you can leave your coat in old cabinets looking like they used to be in swimming halls or at schools decades ago.

Cabinets at Le HavreLe Havre

For starters ordered LES FRUITS DE MER  Queues de gambas grillées, huile de sésame, vanille, persil  Grilled king prawn tails, sesame oil, vanil with parsley and Coquilles Saint Jacques sautées, haricots blancs, amandes émondées et mousse de crabe Fried scallops, white beans, almond and crab foam.

King prawns were excellent, reminded from Mediterranean beach restaurants serving char coal grilled shellfishes. But only four tails :(, could have eaten at least six for starter. Scallops were well cooked and crab foam delicious. Cooking broth had made foam a little bit soggy, but it dit not bother too much. Good start for dinner!

King prawnsScallops

For main courses LES PLATS had Poisson du jour Fish of the Day and Cuisse de canard confite, purée de pommes de terre aux truffes, choux de Bruxelles braisés et sauce au cidre Duck leg confit, truffle-potato pyre, braised Brussels sprouts with dark cider sauce.

Fish of the day was arctic char and potates with morel sauce.  Fish was well prepared because it had not been over cooked. Morels did not include sand or stones which is unfortunately too typical, so well done again! Duck leg was soft and crisp at the same time, really delicious, can recommend. We ordered as side dish Epinards à la crème Spinach simmered in cream because we were first told that certain portions would need that. It came late so we got it on the house. Also it included too much leek which was not mentioned. In overall main courses were success as a whole.

Arctic charDuck leg confit

For Les Desserts had Tarte Tatin, glace vanille Tarte tatin with vanilla ice-cream and Assortiment de sorbets, salade de figues Assortiment of sorbets with fig salad.

Tarte tatin with ice-cream was scrumptious, caused water to flow from mouth. Sorbets were orange, coconut and blackcurrant. They were prepared at restaurant and really well-made. Especially coconut sorbet was pleasant surprise.

Tarte tatinSorbet

Weakest part of dining is wine list. All wines come from France, so you really must be friend of French wines. Only one riesling and unfortunately semi-dry. You can also order from two ciders, apple and pear, which are unsual on wine list but so French as restaurant aims to be.

Service was quick and polite. Some initial confusion about the menu but otherwise professional. Background music…of course French classics. Le Havre complements well the culinary offerings of Helsinki restaurants with succesful French style.

Even the restrooms had been decorated with style…..see the stern eyes in the pictures.


Le HavreLe Havre


Wine review: Taittinger Cuvee Prestige Brut

16 03 2013

Taittinger Cuvee Prestige

International Women’s Day has been celebrated and it is time for actual review for Champagne Taittinger Cuvee Prestige Brut.

Taittinger remains one of the few Champagne Houses to remain owned and actively managed by the family named on the label. The hallmark of the Taittinger Champagnes is the high percentage of Chardonnay used in their winemaking which can be anything from 40% in the Brut Réserve Non Vintage to 100% in the prestigious Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs.

Taittinger Brut Prestige is a blend of around fifty different vineyards, consisting of Chardonnays (40%) and Pinots (60%) from various vintages matured to perfection. Such a high proportion of Chardonnay is seldom found in fine non-vintage champagnes.



The brilliant body is golden yellow in colour. The bubbles are fine, while the foam is discreet yet lingering.



Very open and expressive, delivers aromas of fruit and toast. It also gives off the fragrance of fruits.


The entry onto the palate is lively, fresh and in total harmony. Feels first that it filled the mouth due to bubbles. Aftertaste is dry with minerals.

Taittinger Cuvee Prestige is not available at Alko’s, so you need to purchase it from cruise ships between Helsinki – Stockholm or Helsinki – Tallinn. Champagne suits well for aperitif and with white meated fishes and meats. But also with grilled tuna fish and noodles.


Michelin star restaurants in Helsinki 2013

14 03 2013

Restaurant Demo

Michelin Guide has updated it’s list of rewarded restaurants. All 5 existing Michelin restaurants kept their stars, so no new Michelin restaurants in Finland or Helsinki. G.W. Sundmans might be rewarded soon as it has been highlighted with red letters meaning “rising star”.  Restaurant has had 1 Michelin star several years ago.

Restaurants with Michelin stars are:

Chez Dominique, Rikhardinkatu 4, Helsinki: 2 stars (owner Hans Välimäki)

Demo, Uudenmaankatu 9-11, Helsinki: 1 star (owners Tommi Tuominen and Teemu Aura)

Luomo, Vironkatu 8, Helsinki: 1 star (owners Jouni Toivanen and Mika Mattila)

Olo, Kasarmikatu 44, Helsinki: 1 star (owners Pekka Terävä and Petri Lukkarinen)

Postres, Eteläesplanadi 8, Helsinki: 1 star (owners Samuli Wirgentius and Jari Liimatta)


Bib Gourmand restaurants 2013 are:

Farang, Ainonkatu 3, Helsinki

Gaijin, Bulevardi 6, Helsinki

Grotesk, Ludviginkatu 8-10, Helsinki

Pure Bistro, Pohjoisesplanadi 9, Helsinki (new)

Solna, Solnantie 26, Helsinki

Interesting is that Farang and Gaijin still both have Bid Gourmand (excellent price/quality ratio) logos; both owned by chefs Tomi Björk and Matti Wiberg.  Farang has opened restuarant in Stockholm, must find out the rating. Also interesting is that Grotesk, owned by same chefs as Demo, kept Bid Gourmand logo although it changed it’s style. Update: did not remember to write that PureBistro is owned by Luomu owners! One Michelin star restaurant and one Bib Gourmand restaurant. However, when we vistited PureBistro, we were not so happy about the food.

Restaurant Spis raised also to Michelin Guide, review available

Wine review: Petit Chablis le Donjon des Eschofiers

9 03 2013

The main Chablis Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée was designated on January 13, 1938, but the junior appellation of Petit Chablis was not designated until January 5, 1944. Petit Chablis is the lowest end of the classification, which includes the outlying land. As of 2004, 1,380 acres (560 ha) of a permitted 4,448 acres (1,800 ha) in the Petit Chablis appellation was planted. (Wikipedia)

Grapes are of course 100% Chardonnay, typical to Chablis.

You might sometimes expect from Petit Chablis wines same features  (full-bodied, rich) as from  genuine Chablis, but Petit Chablis le Donjon des Eschofiers did not meet expectations. Would say it was Minuscule Chablis….

Petit Chablis


Pale yellow with some green apple, no visible acidity.

Petit Chablis


Mild flavor of aroma, difficult to sense anything. Maybe some apples and minerals, but only maybe….


First experience was dull and bland, however aftertaste felt better than first impression.

Facts and figures:

Alcohol: 12% by volume
Extract: 20 g/l
Acidity: 5,8 g/l
Energy: 80 kcal/100 ml (310 kJ/100 ml)
Closure: metal screw cap

This wine is suitable with white fishes and meats. Greasy fishes and spiced foods would not pair. Would prefer also real Chablis for aperetif and pay some extra.


Petit Chablis

Coming reviews: Taittinger Cuvee Prestige Brut and Val de los Frailes Vendimia Seleccionada…

Wine review: Taittinger Cuvee Prestige Brut

8 03 2013

Celebrating International Women’s Day with champagne Taittinger, but review is coming later…..


Good food is part of celebrating….recipe coming later….Tuna fish with noodles

Tuna fish

Have a nice weekend!

Restaurant review: Martina

7 03 2013

Restaurant or Ristorante Martina has 16 restaurants in Finland (two in Helsinki). One of the Helsinki restaurants is situated in Ruoholahti shopping center which was reconstructed recently. Decor and menu is Italian style as well as music played background. Dining room is really high, must have been in industrial use before. Interesting detail of interior; “laundry” was hanging from the strings near the roof.

MartinaMartina laundry

You can start with simple appetizer table which is in the middle of the dining room. This buffet is available for diners ordering main courses. Unfortunately cucumber and bread had dried; we ate late afternoon couple of hours after regular lunch time.

Appetizer at Martina

We also ordered for starter Antipasti for two citrus marinated shrimps, salsiccia sausage, roasted sweet pepper, half dried tomatoes, cantaloupe melon, salad, provolone and ricotta cheese and roasted foccacia.

Antipasti plate consisted mainly tinned and pre-packaded food. Best part was provolone cheese, warm and salty, partly smelted tidbit.

Antipasti plate

For main courses had Martina’s Lasagne and Arrabiata Chicken Chicken breast, arrabiata sauce, grilled vegetables and cipollata.

Lasagne was scrumptious and serving in iron pot made enjoyment even better. Absolutely best part of dinner, can recommend! Only if you do not like greasy cheese you might hesitate because on top of lasagne there was quite a thick layer of cheese. Arrabiata Chicken was too salty. Unfortunately grilled vegetables were cooked in too much oil which made whole side dish quite fatty. But waitress did a good job as we requsted to leave onions away because this really had been done in the kitchen before portion arrived to the table.


After quite “heavy” portions decided to stick to basics; Chocolate ice cream and Rasberry sorbet with suitable drinks.

Ice creamSorbet

Restaurant has modest wine list; house white and red (not drinkable) wines + 3 other choises for both. Decided to drink Lumina Pinot Grigio which was 5 euros cheaper than price at the restaurant web page. However, still overpriced.

You might want to order pizza when you decide to dine at Martina. Have heard positive feedback about them. Athmosphere is cozy and informal, easy to drop by.

REVIEW: FOOD 2+/5 – SERVICE 3,5/5 – OVERALL GRADE 3/5 (pity that there is no english version of site)

Asian style whitefish and whole-grain rice

3 03 2013

This ASIAN STYLE WHITEFISH WITH WHOLE-GRAIN RICE is propably easiest and quickest to prepare, least messy, really healthy and on top of all one of the most delicious fish foods ever! Two important things to succeed; tasty marinad and right baking time in oven. Whitefish (lavaret) is popular fish in Finland, fish meat looks like Sea bass but usually size of the fish is smaller. This time we were able to find quite nice pieces from Stockmann Helsinki department store.

WhitefishWhitefish and rice

Recipe (2 portions)

400 g whitefish (scaled and fish bones blucked out)

Thai basilica

1 Red chili

1 Lemon

Salt, sugar and pepper

Teriayki soy sauce

Vegetable oil

Instruction: Prepare marinade by mixing squeezed lemon juice, vegetable oil and teriayki soy sauce. Chop chili and thai basilica and add them to marinade. Add salt, pepper and enough sugar to marinade so that it is not too bitter due to fresh lemon. Pour 3/4 of marinade in baking dish, put fish slices on marinade skin side up and pour rest of the marinade on top of fish.

Bake fish in the oven for 15-20 minutes depending on the size of fish pieces. Remember not to over cook! If fish lays on marinade a littke bit longer it has begun to mature due acids in lemon.

Cook rice in a pot according cooking instructions on the package while fish is in the oven.

WhitefishCitron and chili

Preparing time for portion is less than 30 minutes if you can get whitefish, which is already scaled and even bones plucked out. No fat, not too much salt because of other spices.

Wine review: Bründlmayer Riesling Steinmassel

1 03 2013

Austrian white wine Bründlmayer Riesling Steinmassel comes from Weingut Bründlmayer which is situated in Langenlois, about 70 km north-west of Vienna, upstream along the Danube in the Lower Austrian Kamp Valley.

Tasted wine consists of RIESLING (100 %); surprise, names can tell sometimes you something 🙂

Usually rieslings from Austria are luscious, enough dry and full-bodied. Favourites of ours in addition to Germans.



Color of the wine was pale yellow with tint of light green. Actual look was a little bit greener than in photo below.



First it was difficult to find scent of riesling. Wine was stored in fridge and therefore too cold. After a while could find it and also some fruity with hint of green apple. But scent of riesling was not so strong as in many Austrian riesling wines.


First impression was lackluster but after few sips it improved; again too cold wine. Less acidity, petrol and minerals than in typical Austrian rieslings, but of course could be indentified.

Facts and figures:

Alcohol: 12,5% by volume
Extract: 18 g/l
Sugar: 7 g/l
Acidity: 6,2 g/l
Energy: 80 kcal/100 ml (320 kJ/100 ml)
Closure: metal screw cap

This riesling suites well with whitefish, which is mild and non-greasy (see recipe via link below), which we had for dinner. If food is more spicy you might want to buy a wine with a little bit more intense flavour. Also prefer better balanced wines for aperitif.


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