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….

MUSSEL

green shell mussel, yuzu-mirin dressing, pickled noodle

Gaijin Mussels

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

PORK BUN

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

sashimi of the day

Sashimi

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

FOIE & UNAGI

glazed eel, duck liver, nori-bread, cherry

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

MISO SALMON, APPLE & LEMON

‘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.

CHICKEN UMEBOSHI YAKITORI

grilled chicken marinated in sweet plum soy

Chicken

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

SESAME, GINGER & SOY SCALLOP

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

Scallops

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

MONGOLIAN LAMB HOT POT

braised lamb neck, grilled and smoked fennel, lamb broth

Lamb

Great meat especially in Easter!

 

GREEN TEA & WHITE XOCO

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

DessertDessert

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.

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

http://gaijin.fi/?lang=en





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

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:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%A4mmi

http://www.kymppi-maukkaat.fi/en





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.

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

Le HavreLe Havre

http://www.hotelliseurahuone.fi/ravintolat/fi_FI/lehavre_inenglish/

https://www.facebook.com/BrasserieLeHavre

 





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.

Taittinger

THE LOOK

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

Taittinger

THE NOSE

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

THE TASTE

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.

REVIEW: OVERALL GRADE 4+/5 – BANG FOR THE BUCK ++ / +++

http://www.taittinger.fr/#/en/Accueil

http://www.taittinger.fr/#/en/TheChampagnes/CuveesGallery/CuveePrestige





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) http://www.chezdominique.fi/home_cd2?

Demo, Uudenmaankatu 9-11, Helsinki: 1 star (owners Tommi Tuominen and Teemu Aura) http://www.restaurantdemo.fi/demo

Luomo, Vironkatu 8, Helsinki: 1 star (owners Jouni Toivanen and Mika Mattila) http://www.luomo.fi/en/restaurant/

Olo, Kasarmikatu 44, Helsinki: 1 star (owners Pekka Terävä and Petri Lukkarinen) http://www.olo-restaurant.com/home.html

Postres, Eteläesplanadi 8, Helsinki: 1 star (owners Samuli Wirgentius and Jari Liimatta) http://www.postres.fi/

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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 https://reijosfood.com/2012/08/10/restaurant-review-spis/





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

THE LOOK

Pale yellow with some green apple, no visible acidity.

Petit Chablis

THE NOSE

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

THE TASTE

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.

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

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…..

TaittingerTaittinger

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

Tuna fish

Have a nice weekend!








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