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 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/





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/





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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