Restaurant review: Ristorante Vaelsa

13 05 2018


Ristorante e Taverna Vaelsa is located by Market Square, at Pohjoisesplanadi 9 in the historic Govinius building. At the 2nd floor there is restaurant (Ristorante) serving more sophisticated menu and downstairs is taverna, which serves pizzas and some salads. Vaelsa‘s kitchen combines local food and classic Italian cuisine with a modern twist.

Had dinner at Ristorante when it was full of diners. Also Taverna was packed, reflects the popularity of this concept. Sign of popularity!

As an appetizer Vaelsa serves foccaccia with pesto made from green olives. Nice snack, especially when pesto was so tasty.

For starters ordered Polpo arrosto and Insalata di verza.

Fried octopus with bean mousse and winter salad was delicious. Crispy pieces of octopus with mousse paired well. Only what was missing were double amount of polpo, so fresh and well prepared it tasted.

Savoy cabbage salad with cumin, apple and salad was also very tasty. Vegan version included also vegan mayonnaise, which is not so common yet.

For main courses had Pappardelle al cacao and Ravioli.

Cocoa pappardelle pasta in a juniper spiced wild boar sauce was on of the best pasta dishes ever eaten. Vaelsa makes their own pasta, so it is fresh and cooked as one want’s it to be. Sauce with pieces of wild boar was bull’s eye, juniper flavour was pleasant surprise. One can also order pasta as Primi Piatti, then the portion is smaller and costs less.

Pumpkin filled ravioli was prepared as vegan, cream sauce was replaced with suitable ingredients. Again well done by the kitchen.

Tested also vegan dessert Torta Riso, Rice-chocolate cake. Sweet and luscious!

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

Service was professional, only problems was, that as on the other side of table was wall, waiter had to give few plates from other side of the table. If you want to visit Ristorante, better make table reservation, to Taverna you can just walk in and check if there are free tables. There is also tiny bar for drinks just after the entrance.

Visited Vaelsa in March, yesterday when there was suprisingly warm day, had beer’s at the terrace. Worth to visit also!

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

http://vaelsa.fi/ristorante/





Restaurant review: Rugosa

11 03 2018

Restaurant Rugosa was opened in January 2018 in Lauttasaari in one of the recently completed apartment buildings. The best part of Rugosa is that it takes only 10 minutes to walk there as it is located on the home island.

Specialities are charcoal grill and huge aquarium, which is only for viewing. Fishes are not used for cooking although there are fish dishes on a la carte list. Restaurant is open every day from noon until evening, but only weekends until 23.00.

Dinner starts with home made pita bread with hummus and tsatziki. Really delicious and can actually replace the starter as there is plenty of it.

Only vegan dish for starter is Salad a la Rugosa Naturel. For another starter ordered Blue cheese and Garlic Snails.

Salad was basic and fresh.

Snails were tasty, combination of cheese and butter with herbs made the dish excellent although there was nothing extraordinary. And there should not be as this is traditional starter. More pita bread which unfortunately is not the best bread to wipe hollows clean as it a bit hard.

For main courses ordered Falafels a la Rugosa and Charcoal grilled fillet steak.

Vegan option was nicely presented but falafels itselves were a bit dry. Although menu says that there is also vegan mayo option, restaurant had not yet made that.

Steak was tender as it should be. Waitress forgot to ask how it should be prepared; it was medium minus. Would have anyway liked medium plus ripeness. Mushroom sauce and potato cake supplemented meat. This ensamble made dish quite heavy, maybe grilled roots have been better choice.

For wine ordered house wine Portuguese AdegaMãe Pinta Negra Tinto 2016. Excellent quality/price ratio and definately best part of dinner.

Dining room is spacious but as Rugosa seems to be quite popular, best to make table reservation at least on Friday and Saturday evenings.

There is lots of potential to be the number one restaurant in Lauttasaari. Casa Mare and Blue Peter face now real competition which hopefully encourages them to further develop their businesses.

Portions look spectacular and they are big. Some fine tuning and food grade raises easily.

We did not plan to order aperitives but as nobody asked if we wanted, we sticked to wine.

Ragusa deserves 4 points for overall grade because of location. But as mentioned earlier restaurant have all odds to get higher.

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

http://www.rugosa.fi/

 

 





Michelin star restaurants in Helsinki 2018 – back to track

19 02 2018

 

Michelin Guide announced new list of Michelin starred restaurants in Finland today, one new restaurant got it’s first Michelin star, Grön.

Three restaurants kept 1 Michelin star, all in Helsinki. Chef & Sommelier was closed but same owners got right away one star for their new restaurant Ora.

It seems that other cities are not yet included in Michelin reviews although there are good candidates.

 

Restaurants with 1 Michelin star in Helsinki, Finland are:

Ask, Vironkatu 8, Helsinki – http://restaurantask.com/?lang=en

Ora, Huvilakatu 28, Helsinki – http://www.orarestaurant.fi/

Demo, Uudenmaankatu 9-11, Helsinki – http://www.restaurantdemo.fi/?lang=fi

Olo, Pohjoisesplanadi 5, Helsinki – http://olo-ravintola.fi/en/

Grön, Albertinkatu 36 – https://www.restaurantgron.com/

 

Demo bar - reijosfood.com

Picture from restaurant Demo which has had Michelin star since 2007.

Picture from Grön about 2 years ago – dish waiting for sauce

 

Helsinki got one Bib Gourmand restaurant more. Boulevard Social, Gaijin and Farang are owned by same chefs, incredible achievement year over year. Emo was named again. Jord is the new restaurant.

I would add to this list at least restaurants Copas y Tapas, SPISBar Con, Roster, The CockYes Yes Yes,….Today there are at least dozen restaurants which provide excellent food with decent prices and professional service. I shall bet Michelin consultants have not had time to visit all those.

Anyway, all listed restaurants earned to be named.





Restaurant review: Yes Yes Yes

21 01 2018

 

Yes Yes Yes is bar & restaurant where food just happens to be vegetarian or vegan. Spot was opened in November 2017 by the same chef’s who run popular restaurants The Cock and Holiday. One can not find meat or even fish on the menu but milk products in some dishes make restaurant vegetarian.

In the past there was McDonald’s in the same place. Transformation to totally different style and cuisine has been enormous. Most of the tables are by big open windows. Two bars are mostly meant for diners, to eat there does not require table reservation which is otherwise necessarily to make.

Menu includes so called Munchies, small snacks, Dips and Tandoori breads, Roots & Greens, Comfort Plates, Extras and Sweetie Pies. Pricing is simple; 10€, 12€ or 14€ per dish. But as food is more like shareable tapas dishes regarding to our waiter, you shall get all dishes almost at the same time to the table.

Recommendation for two: Order 4-5 dishes and share at least 2 of them. Sizes of dishes are like racion, not tapas. We ordered 6 dishes, which is a little bit too much although two of them were dips with tandoori bread.

First we got Comfort Plate Rigatoni, kuri squash, ricotta, pistachio pesto and burnt tomato and Roots & Greens Charred kale, persimmon, parsnip chips and toasted sesame. Pasta was cooked as it should be, not too much. Combination of cheese, pesto and tomato matched well with rigatone. From vegan dishes kale was the most attempting. Again chef”s were able to create a tour de force from vegetables.

After 5 minutes we got Munchies which were Halloumi fries, pomegranate and coriander and Cauliflower tempura, sweet pepper sauce. Although these should be small dishes there were actually the biggest one. Hallomi fries were tasty with sauce and spices but even for two this dish quite filling. Cauliflower was excellent, not too hard either soft. Interesting observation was that if felt and almost tasted like fried calamari.

And almost right away crispy tandoori breads with two dips Kuri squash, pine nuts, sun-kissed apricot and ginger and Beetroot, aubergine, blood orange and olive oil. Dips were interesting, first one was almost sweet and we even thought that apricots were figs. Dark dip paired better with breads, at least in our mouths.

Wines have been chosen by Riikka Sukula who owns a wineyard in Italy with his husband, TV celebrity chef Jyrki. Ordered Spanish Alma de Casa (Soul of the House), which is produced from Monastrell (80%), Cabernet Savignon and Syrah grapes. Full-bodied red wine with hints of dark berries. As it has been stored for few months in oak barrels, it made the wine more round.

Yes Yes Yes will be the most popular vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Helsinki this year. Although it is January and for some people the month one tries to avoid alcohol which also leads to less visit to restaurants, restaurant was packed full most of the time. Even the bar chairs were occupaid by diners.

Food is excellent, requires extra innovation to prepare dishes with not so known ingredients. And for vegans very welcomed new spot.

Because all dishes came almost at the same time and our table was full of plates, might make sense to order first few and after eating those order more.

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

https://www.yesyesyes.fi/





Restaurant review: Säm – Asian Bar and Kitchen

13 01 2018


Säm – Asian Bar and Kitchen bistro was opened in Helsinki at the end of August 2017 by a former 2 Michelin star chef Hans Välimäki and Restamax Group. Restaurant Säm is part of Asian cuisine complex. It is located at the ground floor; at the 2nd floor there is Masu – Asian bistro. Masu tries to be more sophisticated but also relaxed. Visited Masu 3 weeks after it was opened, review can be found by using search.

Originally the idea was that Säm serves more like street food. However, many of the dishes and their prices are the same in both spots. That applies to wine list too.

Decided to try order “small dishes” for starter. Chose Nonohana Rabe Broccoli in soy-chili sauce, garlic, sesam and kewpie mayo and Sticky “Vietnamese style” chicken wings Crispy fried and glazed chicken wings 3 pcs.

Unfortunately small dishes came at the same time as main courses. So, do not order them as starters.

Broccoli dish was tasty, amount of mayo actually helped in that.

Wings were exactly as they were described on the menu, very delicious. Mayo dip matched well with them.

Unfortunately small dishes came at the same time as main courses. So, do not order them as starters.

For main courses had Hot Paa Naam Tok Mushrooms in sesame oil, soy, lemon grass, chili, mint, lime and roasted garlic and Ramen Roasted pork ribs, vegetables, kimchi, nudels and lots of goodies….

Vegan dish was huge and because that it became cold too soon. Dish is quite diversified when it comes to herbs and spices. Difficult to find main taste.

As nudels in Ramen were more like thick spaghetti, they were extremely difficult to eat with sticks. Second problem was to overwhelming broth which was easy to drop and splash on your clothes. Unfortunately taste was too mild for Asian dish and pork was quite greasy.

Wine list, when it comes to red’s, is quite short and prices are quite expensive for casual bistro. Tried one of the few full-bodied, Saint Cosme Côtes-du-Rhône 2016 from France. This vegan wine produced from Syrah grapes paired well with all dishes although the tastes of dishes were quite modest. However, the price for this kind of food is too expensive.

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

Last time when we ate at Masu, there were only sticks on the table when you arrived. This time also spoons were given right away.

Location is perfect, try to get window table and you see the Park Esplanade, Swedish Teater and restaurant Teatteri opposite to Säm.

As portions did not taste as Asian as they should, can not give more points for food. Expected more use of spices and herbs. Both Säm and Masu mention on they web-site that they are for Finnish taste, might be then difficult to compete in the future with more taste rich Asian restaurants.

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

http://www.ravintola.fi/ravintola/sam-helsinki/





Restaurant Farang – New Years Eve pictures

6 01 2018

We had dinner at restaurant Farang on New Years Eve. Almost a tradition already as this was second year on a row. Only special menu was available with vegan option.

This time no review, pictures only. But must say that Farang never disappoints!

http://farang.fi/en/

 





Restaurant review: Hoku – re-visit

22 12 2017



HOKU was opened on the 3rd of December 2016, when new restaurant concept was launched in Kamppi shopping center at 5th floor. Area is called Kortteli (Block), which includes 11 restaurants with different cuisines, HOKU being one of them.

Restaurant HOKU is a Hawaiian restaurant started by Ryan Shibuya. It is located by the windows opening to Narinkkatori offering great view, if you get window table. So ask for it, but enough early. Some of the tables are on the other side closer to other restaurants like Beijng8.

Visited again HOKU one week before Christmas. We were the last ones to get table, without table reservation. After us restaurant was fully packed.

For starters ordered POKE SAMPLER Fresh siika and salmon, kaiso wakame, sweet onion, soy-wasabi and spicy mayo dressing and OKONOMIYAKI (v) Savory Japanese pancake, cabbage, onions, tiger prawns, served with okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, crispy prosciutto.

Fish sampler consisted of two towers flavoured with different spices. Whitefish is Finnish lake fish and eaten as “raw” especially in the Christmas time. Salmon is also typical to be eaten as spiced during the holidays. Sampler was delicious and spiced enough strongly and this seemed to be new trend since last visit.

Okonomiyaki can be ordered as vegan version. Prawns and prosciutto are replaced with Silken tofu and asparagus. Very tasty and enough well spiced.

From several main courses ordered BI BIM BAP Thinly sliced beef teriyaki, lightly cook and pickled vegetables served on rice with a fried egg and spicy kocuchung sauce and TOFU TERIYAKI Pan seared with teriyaki sauce.  Served with rice, green or potato salad, pickles.

Bi Bim Bap has actually roots in Korea, so the Asian fusion cuisine has also arrived to HOKU. Dish was tasty, beef tender and sauce paired well with all ingredients. Could have left the egg out, but if one eats only main course it may be needed add-on.

Vegan version did not include potato salad, it was replaced different vegetables. Dish was well prepared and delicious. Only problem with the vegan dishes is, that one has to eat tofu two times, unless you order Emadame for starter.

 

Mm

Wines are really affordable when it comes to restaurant prices. If you get bottle of decent wine under 40€ in Finland, then you are on right track. That is one reason why I can recommend HOKU.

Ordered this time full-bodied Mouth Bomb, which is produced by Casa Vinicola Winepunk in Toscana, Italy. The variety of grapes, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Ciliegiolo, Grenache and Sangiovese are the reason for name. Excellent wine for the dishes we ate!

Restaurant Hoku has been a success. Excellent location in the Kamppi shopping center and window tables at 5th floor with great view help it also.

But of course food is the most important part and it was tasty. Must say that using of spices made the enjoyment even better than last time. Then spices were more mild when it comes to both starters and main courses.

Service was professional being not too formal. Style suits well to casual athmosphere.

Saw many customers trying to walk in without table reservation without luck. Therefore make the table reservation enough early.

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

http://hoku.fi/index.html

http://kampinkortteli.fi/en





Restaurant review: Kungfu Kitchen

3 12 2017

Kungfu Kitchen is the first restaurant concept by Miro Kurvinen, 2014 Finnish Master Chef. Restaurant was opened in May 2017. Both the food and the ambiance of the restaurant itself are straight-forward and unpretentious. The restaurant’s food philosophy is based on a few important cornerstones: Flavor, freshness and presentation. Kungfu Kitchen offers up dishes made from fresh local ingredients. The cuisine ranges from modern classics to innovative cross-kitchen dishes and simple bar food with a relaxed Asian twist.

During lunch service, the restaurant offers up a quick self-service buffet. In the evenings one can stop by for a drink and a few bar snacks. Dinner is based on a la carte list or chef’s menus. The bar itself is small just front of the dining area.

For starters ordered BAHNBAO, Soft Steamed Vietnamese buns, Crispy pork belly and Teriyaki marinated pulled oat.

Pork was crispy as the name of the dish promised. Combination of spices, herbs and meat was delicious. Restaurant could offer this also as main course if there would be two buns in a basket.

Pulled oat (in Finnish Nyhtökaura) is Finnish vegan innovation which has become popular since introduction. Now some restaurants have started to use it and propably it increases their attractiveness. Pulled oat with teriayki was delicious and definately suitable for asian flavours.

Main courses were Daily wish with lemongrass bisque and  All the good stu in bowl: Fragrant jasmine rise, vegetables, fried egg with Shiitake mushrooms and tofu.

Fish of the day was pike perch, delicous white meated Finnish lake fish. After bringing the fish plate to the table, waitress poured the sauce, lemongrass bisque, on top of the portion. Fish itself was perfectly grilled and with vegetables enjoyable ensemble.

One can choose to bowl three different options and one is with mushrooms and tofu. Dish was spicy and tasty, pleasant suprise especially when it comes to strongness of spices.

 

For wine had Antonio Rubini Appassimento, Italian red wine from Apulia. Wine paired perfectly with starters and main courses and the spices used. Full-bodied with medium tannins, wine was luscious and enough spicy. And when it comes to price, affordable bottle for the quality it provided.

Service is professional, only hick-up was in word fries. Tried to order them as side dish but two waitresses heard rice. So better use the whole name of the dish, Kungfu fries.

And then the price of water, paid 6 euros for still water. One can explain the price with Thoreau Water which is a Swedish Design Concept for serving water that is produced locally. But as far I understand it is still tap water?

Kungfu Kitchen is excellent restaurant for Asian cuisine lovers. Food is fresh and tasty, definately a place to re-visit. It has many vegan choises which is becoming more and more popular trend.

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

https://www.kungfukitchen.fi/





Restaurant review: Roster Helsinki – re-visit

19 11 2017
Roster is a Bar & Restaurant near Market Square opposite to statue of Havis Amanda.  TV Chef Kari Aihinen and Paul Hickman and part of restaurant Savoy team established the restaurant and opened second Roster in Turku. One can drink aperitives in the bar before heading to tables upstairs or downstairs for dinner.

What made Roster Helsinki attractive restaurant after opening, if not also otherwise, was the pricing of wines. Wines were priced with fixed margin, which made quality wines more affordable. Enjoyed during first visit Ned & Henry’s Shiraz 2013 from Hewitson. Usually this wine costs 60-80€ in most restaurants, but “only” 46,40€ in Roster. But after success, restaurant had increased the price to 67,50€. And similar price increase was made for all wines.

Started the dinner with aperitives, French Coolers, which were fresh and good start for delicious dinner.
For starters ordered SCAM(pi) Marinated scampi, pickled raddish and mustard crème and Chermoula Grilled squash “Chermoula”, saffron pickled Brussels sprouts and Baba Ganoush.
Scampis were tasty and fresh. I am not sure if dark bread was needed, usually it is served with spiced fishes.            
Chermoula was also well prepared. Vegan versions had improved from last visits.

Main courses were Porky Pork Glazed pork cheek, parsley purée and all spice – red wine sauce and Open Sesame! Deep fried Jerusalem artichoke, oyster mushrooms and sesame mayonnaise

Tender pork was delicious and nicely placed on the plate.

Name of the vegan main course was interesting, sesame was not so dominant taste as one could think. Anyway as mentioned before huge improvement in vegans versions compared to first visit August 2016.

However, without side dishes, Roasted Potatoes and Roster Coleslaw, portions would have been too small.


Roster Helsinki is combination of fine dining in casual athmosphere. Dishes are ambitious and their names entertaining.

If you reserve table enough early, ask for window table. Havis Amanda Square opens up just front of the restaurant.

Although gave food better points than did when visiting first time, new way to price wines decreases overall grade.

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

https://rosterhelsinki.com/





Wine review: Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2017 and Albert Bichot Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau 2017

17 11 2017

 

Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine made from Gamay grapes produced in the Beaujolais region of France. Wine is released for sale on the third Thursday of November. “Beaujolais Nouveau Day” used to see heavy marketing, with races to get the first bottles to different markets around the globe. But not any more, even labels seem to be same

The current release practice is to ship the wine ahead of the third Thursday of November, and release it to the local markets at 00.01 AM local time. In Finland Alko, monopoly company selling wines and alcohol, starts selling these wines at 09.00 on Thursday 16th November, 2017.

This year wines available from Alko were Albert Bichot Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau and Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau. So no changes compared to last year.

 

THE LOOK

Albert Bichot did not have time to renew label? One fun part are the labels which are colorful and creative. Luckily Georges Duboeuf did not dissappoint.

Both wines are almost violet, blue-reddish like young wines always are. But I think this year they are darker than last year.

THE NOSE

Fruity, even sweet aroma especially when using tasting glass. Rasberry and fruit candy scent came in to the nose from both wines.

It seems that Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau has more deep bouquet again.

THE TASTE

Young, light fruity wines. Berries dominate, but on the other hand taste is skinny. Aroma is better than taste, but with street food and pizzas, both wines pair basically ok.

Facts:

                             Georges Duboeuf                                        Albert Bichot
Alcohol:        13,00 %                                             13,00 %
Acidity:         5,2 g/l                                               5,5 g/l
Energy:         80 kcal / 100 ml (280 kJ / 100 ml)   70 kcal / 100 ml (290 kJ / 100 ml)

 

Albert Bichot cost 0,50€ more, why? Same label as last year, more modest taste.

 

REVIEW:

Georges Duboeuf  OVERALL GRADE 3,5/5 – BANG FOR THE BUCK ++/+++

Albert Bichot OVERALL GRADE 3/5 – BANG FOR THE BUCK +/+++





Restaurant review: Sandro Kortteli

24 09 2017


Restaurant Sandro Kortteli is the third Sandro restaurant in Helsinki. It was opened on the 3rd of December 2016, when all other restaurants in the “block” were opened in Kamppi shopping center 5th floor. In August 2017 4th Sandro restaurant was opened in Tapiola, Espoo. The first Sandro in Kallio suburb was established in 2013 and it started the triumphal leading to more openings. All Sandro’s serve African style, mostly Moroccan, food.

Brunches and buffet’s are most popular. In Kortteli, Marrakech Madness Feast, seemed to be mostly chosen portion from the menu. It included starters, main courses and desserts at the price of 33,90€. Recommend to order that instead of dishes from a la carte list. Reason for this is, that there are not actually starters on menu and main courses are quite expensive.

Anyway started the dinner with aperitives called Flower Mule. Very refreshing and tasty drink, which included cucumber, chili and ginger.


For main courses, as there were no starters, ordered Tajines. African Sweet Potato Curry coconut, organic tofu, chili and coriander as vegan dish and Slow Cooked Lamb Shank ginger, cinnamon, chili, prunes, sesame and almonds. All Tajines come with baby gems, tzatziki, harissa pesto, hummus, cinnamon pumpkin, cauliflower tabbouleh, couscus and saffron bread.

The curry was the only vegan option on the menu. It was spicy, but the serving size is quite big, so after a while the taste is overwhelming to the taste buds.

Must say that Lamb Tajine was dissappointment. The sauce sounded tempting when reading what it consisted. But could not find any of listed spices from the taste. Luckily lamb was well prepared and crisp, which compensated a lot.

With many side dishes one can taste different flavors from Morocco. However, value more strong and deeper savors.



Wine list is short and quite expensive for casual restaurant. One wine under 40€ and most cost 60€ or more. Ordered French-Moroccan Tandem Syrah 2014.

Alain Graillot, a highly respected grower in Crozes-Hermitage in the Rhône, met the owners of this North African domaine while on a cycling holiday in Morocco and now they make this wine in tandem. That is how the name was invented. Wine paired quite nicely with food enjoyed.

Sandro restaurants have been popular since opening. Chain is part of Royal Ravintolat group which has changed it’s profile from traditional fine dining chain to co-owner of restaurants serving more diversified and casual dining experiences.

Food in Sandro Kortteli could have been more spicy when it comes to Lamb Tajine. On the other hand curry had enough kick.

Service was professional, but is seemed that waiters were quite busy.

Ask for window table and you can see Narinkkatori and buildings around Kamppi. Location and view restaurant can offer, is one of the draws Sandro Kortteli has.

 

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

http://www.sandro.fi/en/restaurants/sandro-kortteli/

https://kampinkortteli.fi/en





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

 

 








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