Restaurant review: Hoku

12 03 2017



HOKU was opened on the 3rd of December 2016, when new restaurant concept was launched in Kamppi shopping center 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 behind glass walls after Beijing8 restaurant.

For starters ordered EDAMAME Lightly boiled and seasoned soybeans with a sesame-soy chili dressing and SOFT SHELL CRAB Deep fried and served on mixed salad with a creamy sriracha vinaigrette

Edamame, which is common in Hawaii,  was a very simple dish, and a bit lacking imagination.  As tasty as the sauce is, at the end they are just soy beans. Suitable for snack to be shared but maybe not for starter.

Crab was delicious and actuallu quite big for starter. Crispy shells with tasty salad made this crab starter maybe the best of all dishes eaten.

 



From several main courses ordered STEAMED SEABASS WITH BLACKBEANS Seabass steamed in cabbage leaf, salty black beans, shimeji mushrooms, ginger pesto and TOFU TERIYAKI Pan seared with teriyaki sauce.  Served with rice, green or potato salad, pickles.

Seabass was wrapped in cabbage leaves, 3 pieces, which make portion generous. Sauce or soup was quite salty but rice lightened it. Fish itself was perfectly cooked, soft and tasty.

The tofu was silken, and pair well with teriyaki sauce. In menu dish is with salmon but can be replaced with tofu.  In the plate there are 3 different flavors, sweet with the red cabbage, sour with the pickles  and chilli with cabbage.  The green salad is simple, usually served with a mayo dressing, but as it was served as vegan, the dressing was a vinagrette.



Wines are affordable when it comes to restaurant prices. If you get bottle of decent wine under 40€ in Finland, then you are on right track. Had South-African The Innocent Syrah 2015 from wineyard Lammershoek. The palate was soft and round upfront mouth feel. Quite light for Syrah but paired well with Hawaiian style food.

Restaurant has it’s own beer as you can see from the picture below. One of the Hawaiian islands, Kona, can be seen on the sign behind bar desk.

Restaurant Hoku will be success for sure. Excellent location in Kamppi shopping center by the windows with great view help it also.

But of course food is most important part and it was tasty. Especially not too strong Hawaiian flavors should melt Finnish mouths.

Service was professional being not too formal.

Saw many customers trying to step in without table reservation. On Saturday evening restaurant was fully booked.

 

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

http://hoku.fi/index.html

http://kampinkortteli.fi/en

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Restaurant review: Kaarna – bar and kitchen

12 02 2017

Restaurant Kaarna is a laid-back Finnish restaurant with a Scandinavian twist. The restaurant offers simple food and as speciality beers from microbreweries. Most of the dishes also have beer suggestions. To start with, restaurant recommends to try snapas, a sortiment of tapas made from Finnish ingredients. 

Kaarna is located in Forum shopping center in two floors. Street level, there is a small bar, and at the second level there are the dining area and lounge type of bar. There is even small inside terrace by the entrance in the shopping mall.

Ask for window table by Mannerheim street, if you want to follow by-passers and shoppers.

 

For starters had Green salad and Blini with pike roe.

It looked beautiful, but unfortunately the taste was not.  No dressing was added to the salad, or oil offered.  This salad is not listed on the menu, but there were not vegan options for starters.  Nice of them to improvised, but not a success this time.

As it is blini season, had to try it for starter. Only roe available was pike, usually salmon or white fish roes are served. Blinis were ok, but the amount of roe was ridiculous. Never have I seen that tiny pile of roe. And seldom, if ever, syrup is served with blini. Missing black pepper was the third thing, which went wrong.

For vegan food Pulled oats flatbread Pulled oats flavoured with tar and fennel, onion purée and flatbread from Lapland and Roasted country chicken Chanterelle sauce, fried vegetables and roasted potatoes.

Pulled Oat is oat and bean based protein food developed by Gold & Green, new Finnish vegan food producer.

Finnish flat bread is tasteless and dry as it is, so the toppings should be the opposite.  In this case, once again, it looked delicious, but there is just one word to describe this dish:  Bland.

Taste of chicken was nice, but is was quite dry. Portion included sauce, which tasted mushrooms. Maybe, if there had been some bites of chanterelles, it might have tasted, what it should have been.



Wine, which was so called Loyalty Customer wine, was best part of the dinner. Banrock Station Shiraz 2016 from Australia paired well with slightly spiced food. Quite sweet taste still because wine is really young.

Restaurant Kaarna has perfect location in one of the busiest shoppping centers and by the Mannerheim street. If you want window table, it is recommend to make table reservation in advance because restaurant is busy on weekend evenings.

Because of fully booked tables, had to wait 40 minutes for starters.

Unfortunaly food experience was not at the level we expected but location and window table increased overall grade.

REVIEW: Food 2/5 – Service 3+/5Overall grade 3+/5

https://www.raflaamo.fi/en/helsinki/kaarna-baari-keittio





Restaurant review: Loiste at 10th floor

21 01 2017

Restaurant Loiste is located in the heart of Helsinki at the 10th Floor of Hotel Vaakuna and Sokos department store. There is a nice view from terraces and part of the restaurant windows. If you are seated on the right side of the restaurant, when you come in, you can not enjoy of the view, unfortunately. Therefore ask for window table and you can take a look at Kamppi and Forum shopping centres. Loiste is casual type of restaurant, but tries to put effort on the menu and food.


If you just want to enjoy aperitif or you are not hungry enough, you can visit the bar, which is located at the same premises, at 10th floor.

 

This time no starters as had decided to eat dessert too. However, as portions were not that big, could have eaten Blini, the season dish, for starter.

For main courses ordered Fish of the day and Chickpea steak, baked shiitake and kale, bell pepper tzatziki, which was the vegan dish.

Fish of the day was Arctic char, which is cold-water fish in the family of salmonidaes. Quite common in Finland. Side dishes were beetroot, potatoes and mushroom sauce. Simple, tasty but fish pieces could have been bigger.

For vegan porton, not your typical Chickpea steak.  A combination of chickpeas, shredded carrots, and zucchini put together in tasty steak shape. Served with a delicious red pepper tzatziki sauce and a side dish of seasoned wild mushrooms. Overall a delicious dish worth a second try.

For desserts ordered English cranberry-chocolate pudding  and Basil-Coconat sorbet.

Pudding was more like a cake, but delicious. Again few bites bigger and experience would have been perfect.

The vegan dessert was a creamy, structure like ice-cream.  Basil and coconat are not a common combination, but it totally works!



 

This time had for red wine Trapiche Astica Merlot-Malbec from Argentina. This basic wine had intense red color with ruby hues. Fruits and vanilla aromas, great complexity of the red and black fruits in the palate with sweet tannins. Malbec softened Merlot taste nicely.

 

Bigger portions for the price paid is a wish, when it comes to non vegan dishes.

Service was polite but we were wondering why we did not get window table although requested. Few tables were empty all the time by the window. Otherwise restaurant was quite busy.

 

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

https://www.raflaamo.fi/en/helsinki/restaurant-loiste

 





Restaurant review: Oficina – Latin Grill and Bar

8 01 2017

Oficina – Restaurante and Club Social – locates at Kaivopiha plaza in Helsinki, offering Latin food. Inside the restaurant, which is one floor down from street level, you’ll find the dining area, open kitchen and bar. Oficina is owned and operated by S-Group/Raflaamo, which has several restaurant chains in Helsinki area.

Oficina menu comes from Latin America, but not from some particular country. The Argentinean asado culture and their charcoal grills are used to prepare steaks, fish and vegetables. From Peru,  restaurant has selected the sharp pisco sour, salsa verde from Costa Rica and from Brazil, grilled chicken marinated in coconut. If salsa verde would be from Mexico, the taste of chilli jalopenos would have been stronger.

For starters (entradas) chose Ceviche Salmon ceviche, avocado mole salsa and corn chips and Nachos con salsa Oficina’s own corn chips and fresh salsas.

Ceviche was fresh and included many pieces of salmon. Typically dominant ingredients are vegetables and herbs but this time there was enough fish. However, lack of lemon or lime and acidity disturbed a little bit, but otherwise salmon paired well with chips.

Nachos included 3 salsas and part of them were spiced with red chilli powder. That gave extra taste to so common Latin American starter or snack. The guacamole and pico degallo added were nice, but as mentioned ealier green salsa could have been hotter, not lemony taste dominated.

For vegan main course ordered from Latin Grill list Tofu Asado Tofu on a skewer, pineapple salsa, beans and ginger daikon radish and Ribs de Cerdo Pork ribs glazed with chipotle chilli and served with fennel and apple.

Tofu was grilled to a firm crispy consistency. On the plate there was also edam and black beans seasoned with chilli/mango sauce, which really complemented the tofu

Ribs had delicous sauce but I think that fennel had been replaced with Pimientos de Padron. At least I could not find it, and apple was also difficult to find.

When you order main course from Latin Grill you need also to choose side dishes for them. Ordered Ensalada de quinoa Quinoa, red rice, lemon almonds and apple and Patatas fritas House made chips ja tomato aioli.

You might think that patatas fritas are like french fries, but english version tells already something else. First thought that they really were chips, but actually they were little bit thicker and softer. Excellent match with ribs, and would be also good option for starter.

Wine list is short but includes enough choises for Latin American food. Decided to enjoy bottle of Marques de Casa Concha 2013, made from Merlot grapes. Enough full-bodied and spicy to pair with herbs, salsas and slightly spiced food.

Restaurant has used material for decoration from different South American countries as well as Caribbean Island cultures. One example is Pinata hanging in the roof presenting Mexican plays.

Music comes also from the same direction as food and decoration. Welcomed genre, because you mostly hear same rythms from USA and UK in other restaurants and bars.

Food at Oficina is scrumptious and suits for many tastes. A little bit more spicies (read chilli) and herbs, then resataurant would be perfect small Latin America kitchen in Helsinki.

Service was polite and professional.

Overall grade is 4+ because this restaurant concept has been well designed. Everything around food complements it nicely.

Must come back some day later in the evening to check if Club Social continues with same music and athmosphere.

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

https://www.raflaamo.fi/en/helsinki/oficina





Restaurant review: SPIS

10 12 2016

Restaurant SPIS is small 18-seat Nordic restaurant in Kasarminkatu, Helsinki. It is open only in the evenings. Because restaurant is tiny and very popular, during weekens you have to choose to dine at 0530/06.00PM or 0830PM. From Tuesday to Thursday dining starts between 0600-0800PM without time limit. And then and at “night shift” you can order Long Tasting Menu with six courses. However, with snacks and greetings from kitchen, you get over 10 plates front of you.

Enjoyed Short Tasting Menu with 4 courses. Price varies from 50-57€ depending on ingredients. Vegan menu is also available, which is not yet so typical for fine dining bistros. But this is quite natural for SPIS, as main ingredients used are vegetables.

 

First surprise were crackers, which started the dinner. Had already ordered glass of champagne, bubbly and fresh.

Second snack were vegetable greetings from the kitchen, yellow root and spiced cucumber, so simple but always delicious.

And third snack was even more interesting and scrumptious, “spaghetti” with cloudberries. Creative way to combine ingredients, which you may not use together in your own kitchen.



After 3 apetizers kitchen brought first dish, starter, which name I do not unfortunately remember any more. First picture below tells more. As menu do not describe what it includes, post should be written quite soon after dining. Now it has gone three weeks.

Second dish was pike perch with two ways with onions. Pleasantly soft and tasty fish and sweet onions paired well with each other.

And third dish, second main course, was braised pork with fennel. Excellent mixture of salty meat and slightly sweet vegetable!



Before desserts we were served cup of cloudberry soup. This led perfectly to sweeter world of SPIS dishes.

First dessert was greetings from the kitchen, kind of apple crumble.

And fourth dish and actual dessert was cake, which melted in the mouth.

You can combine food with recommened wines with price of 36€, which we did. Because SPIS uses lot’s of vegetables and way of using spices is Nordic, also the wines are light.

With starter we were served sauvignon blanc, which unfortunately not, is my favourite wine.

For vegan version next two wines would have been orange wine, totally new experience, but after first glass changed it to stronger red wine from Italy, which was served with pork. Orange wine is produced from different white wine grapes, which have spent some maceration time in contact with the grape skins, giving the wine an orange color.

Must say that as a friend of full bodied red wines, would next time order a bottle of ripasso or something similar.

 

After asking for check, restaurant always serves final culinary pieces, some sweets on huge Lego brick

SPIS is one of the best Nordic food restaurants in Helsinki. Food served is well prepared, creative and tasty. And I really appreciate that restaurants goes through the trouble of preparing all snacks between the dishes.

Service has always been one of the strengths of restaurant. Chef”s bring some of the dishes to tables, which makes the dining more intimate. However, this time it was sort of difficult to hear what waitresses explained to us.

Some changes in wines and overall grade would have been 5-.

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

 

http://spis.fi/





Copas y Tapas – Finnish food & Spanish wines

18 11 2016

Restaurant Copas y Tapas is one of the best Finnish food restaurants in Helsinki. The name might be a bit misleading, but allmost all ingredients and dishes are Finnish. What is unique Spanish, are the wines, which are usually from small Spanish producers.

As have visited at Copas y Tapas several times, this post is not typical review. The idea is to clarify that restaurant serves Finnish food dispite the name. What is also remarkable that most of the ingredients come from local or small producers, which usually are listed when dishes are served to the tables.

Menu of the Day costs 49€. You can choose from four different main course; fish, vegetarian and usually from two meat options. Usually one meat dish is a little bit more expensive due to ingredient. Restaurant also prepares vegan versions. Recommend to ask for that when making reservation and you can enjoy delicious set of dishes.

Starters always include three bites, usually delicious soup and two other small dishes.

This time pictures tell more than writing. If you would like to know more about dishes, please ask.

 

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Usually let waiters to choose wines which pair with dishes.

This time had for aperitif Raventos i Blanc, nice and bubbly cava http://www.raventos.com/

For main courses recommendations were Laderas de Leonila with beetroots and Altos Iberico with ragu. Both wines matched perfectly with food.

Digestive or dessert drink was Gramona Gra a Gra from pinot noir grapes. Already favourite from last visits.

If you are interested in wines at Copas y Tapas you can always hear short lecture of wine origins, procuder and wine itself. Restaurant start to import themselves wines next spring, which sounds fascinating.



 

As Copas y Tapas is family run business, you can see it in the service. Extremely polite but natural.

This time shall only give overall points which is 5 without no hesitation.

http://www.en.copasytapas.fi/

 





Restaurant review: Hard Rock Cafe Helsinki

5 11 2016

Hard Rock Cafe Helsinki was established in October 15, 2012. It’s location is excellent, opposite to Stockmann Department store by Aleksi street. Dining room and bar are at the 2nd floor and shop at the 1st floor.

All restaurants must develop their operations in order to attract new customers and keep existing. Visited HRC in October 2016, when they had special vegetarian menu. Hard Rock Cafe Helsinki was celebrating Vegetarian Awareness Month by expanding its legendary menu offerings and introducing brand new limited-time meatless options.

For starters there were no vegan options available, so ordered only main courses.

Vegan main course was KEFTA BURGER A house made burger of potato, shiitakes, portabellas, balsamic glaze, barley, thyme and seasonings served on a burger bun with a sriracha hummus, arugula and tomato.

It is now easier to find vegetarian/vegan options in restaurants in the Helsinki area.  It was a nice option having a vegan burger made from other ingredients than lentils or chick peas.  The burger was juicy, and hummus was a good addition to the dressing.

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For meat dish ordered ORIGINAL LEGENDARY® BURGER Topped with smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, golden fried onion ring, crisp lettuce and vine-ripened tomato.
Every half-pound burger (225g) is made with HRC proprietary blend of premium grade beef. Grilled medium well and served on toasted brioche with seasoned fries.
Must say that quality and taste of burger had improved a lot compared to last visit. Burger itself was enough “moist”, couple of times it had been quite dry making it almost difficult to eat. Also fries were well prepared, big enough not to be over cooked.

 

For wine had young 35 South Organic Cabernet-Carmenère-Merlot 2015. Wine was full-bodied, medium tannic, with blackcurrant and blueberry notes. For vegeterian month organic wine suited well.
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Below is a picture of Vegetarian Menu.   It could easily become part of the regular menu as they did a great job at putting the menu together.


Hard Rock Cafe chain is quite successful because of concept and food (if you do not dislike that kind of dishes). Service is quick and polite and always chance to practice english.

Once there was even Planet Hollywood in Helsinki, but global restaurant concept did not survive.

O’Learys has established restaurant in the capital area. Tries to serve similar food with sports concept. But unfortunately food is not at the level what HRC can offer

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

Some examples of decoration….

 

http://www.hardrock.com/locations/cafes3/menu.aspx?LocationID=627&MIBEnumID=3








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