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Old Jun 12, 06, 12:24 pm   #1
 
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Helsinki Dining Guide

Brothers and Sisters in RAR!,

This is the first in an ongoing thread related to dining in Helsinki.

As my career takes me to Finland on a regular basis, I have suffered through the pain of many poor choices in dining. I hope this list helps you avoid my mistakes. Not being included on the list means nothing, as I forget a lot of places and, frankly, I don't want to limit the possibility that you might have a horrific meal.

Thai: Villa Thai Restaurant, Bulevardi 28

First, Thai food. The best I've discovered so far is Villa Thai Restaurant at Bulevardi 28. It's off the 6 tram on the way toward the SAS Radisson Seaside, about halfway between the hotel and the Esplanade. The food was remarkably spicy by Nordic standards (I did, however, ask for it that way) and they managed to have the proper condiments and spices (normally, I've found a real lack of proper basil in European cuisine). Not open on Sundays.

http://www.villathai.com

Indian: Namaskaar, Bulevardi 6 A

Indian is right down the street at Namaskaar. I suggest the Thalis, which come in meat and meatless varieties. It's also off the #6 tram, right down the street from Villa Thai, though closer to the Esplanade.

http://www.namaskaar.fi

Russian: Saslik, Neitsytpolku 12

Across from the Russian Embassy, Saslik is a frequent destination on my travels. I highly suggest the bear, combined with a decent selection of ice cold vodka. The restaurant is rather cramped, so it makes escaping the Russian folk singers a bit difficult.

Note that this restaurant company has other branches serving Finnish and other cuisines, some of which I've eaten at, and seem to be equally as good.

http://www.asrestaurants.com/saslik/index.asp?lang=en

French: Michelle, Mikonkatu 4

Though I can't say I've tried all the French places in Helsinki, I can recommend this place as a reliable and tasty destination. The escargot are delightfully buttered and garlic'ed and the cuts of meat have been quite good. Dessert is worth it.

Again, note that this restaurant company has other branches serving Finnish and other cuisines, some of which I've eaten at, and seem to be equally as good.

http://www.ravintolaopas.net/michell...yId=30&lang=en

Irish: Molly Malone's, Kaisaniemenkatu 1C

I don't recommend the food, but the Guinness is generally fresh and the live music makes it for a good late night out.

http://www.mollymalones.fi/mollymalones_perus_en.html

Italian: Sasso, Market Square

Tasty Northern Italian cuisine, located off the market square at the end of the Esplanade. Good place for Martinis.

http://www.palacekamp.fi/etusivu.asp?rest=sasso&lang=fi

Finnish: G.W. Sundman's, Eteläranta 16

Excellent, High-End Finnish cuisine. The Krog downstairs is the same kitchen, but dining is al fresco and only in summer. Eat Rudolph, his friends and your favorite salted fish here.

http://www.royalravintolat.com/sundmans/index_eng.asp

Japanese/Sushi: Nori, Eteläranta 1

Next door is a good sushi place. Reasonably priced by Helsinki standards and very close to the fish market. Closed on Sundays.

Japanese/Sushi: Ichiban, Mikonkatu 8, 2nd floor

Another highly regarded sushi restaurant.

http://www.ichiban.fi/

Tex/Mex: Cantina West, Kasarmikatu 23

Though I always hesitate to recommend any European-based [Tex]Mexican, this is about as good as it gets in Helsinki.

http://www.ravintolaopas.net/cantina...Id=158&lang=en

International: Eatz, Mikonkatu 15

Got a group and can't decide what to eat or, alternately, crave low-maintenance comfort food? Try Eatz in the city center, across from the train station. Stay away from the American and Mexican cuisines, but the sushi (conveyor belt-style, though you can usually convince them to make off the menu) and Thai food aren't too bad, but not as good as the dedicated places listed above. It has a lively Australian themed bar upstairs and, frankly, we all know how the Aussies party.

http://www.ravintolaopas.net/eatz/ (Finnish only!)

That's it for the start. I will amend it as I remember/discover new places. Alternately, post your own suggestions or dispute mine.

Timothy

Last edited by GodOSpoons; Jun 14, 06 at 4:57 pm. Reason: Corrected Name/Address
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Old Jun 13, 06, 3:03 am   #2
 
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Have you tried the Santa Fe run by my good friend Henry? ( Also the proprietor of nearby Grande Grill and Dick Tracy's ) Henry has lived in the US for years and I don't know any other non-American person with as much love for stateside food than he has ( and it shows ; ). We've had long disputes about the right onions for burgers and equally important stuff when I've visited him in Helsinki.

Are you familiar with the restaurant owned by three young French gents about 30 kms west of Helsinki? I think it's called something along the lines of "The Three Musketeers". Had a dinner there last summer and it was quite nice despite of long waits between courses.

Edited: Well, actually it's called Arsene Flipo and also has a homepage: http://www.arseneflipo.fi/fr/

Last edited by mosburger; Jun 13, 06 at 3:32 am. Reason: dementia
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Old Jun 16, 06, 5:33 am   #3
 
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And one particularly enjoyable development: The Kamp Hotel whose culinary offerings were on the verge of dreadful ( and way overpriced considering the quality ) has finally outsourced the restaurants to local professionals. The Kamp Cafe ( upscale French bistro ), Kamp Club ( think caviar, oysters and champers ) and Yume ( Japanese Kaiseki ) all seem fairly promising. The Japanese chef of Yume is the longtime personal cook of the Japanese Ambassador so he should know what he´s doing.

Last edited by mosburger; Jun 16, 06 at 5:36 am. Reason: sp
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Old Jun 16, 06, 10:03 am   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosburger
Yume ( Japanese Kaiseki ) all seem fairly promising. The Japanese chef of Yume is the longtime personal cook of the Japanese Ambassador so he should know what he´s doing.
OMG! Could there finally be a halfway decent Japanese restaurant in Helsinki? Any idea how stratospheric the prices will be?

Now if somebody would only open a Korean place and a Vietnamese joint...
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Old Jun 16, 06, 2:55 pm   #5
 
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Amen. I'll explore the Vietnamese angle on my next trip (I'm a total ho' for Pho), but I have to admit that I've not developed a taste for Korean, so y'all are on your own there.

Timothy
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Old Jun 17, 06, 8:45 am   #6
 
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Well, I´ve thought of Kabuki as a fairly decent place despite of the somewhat dusty interior. As for Yume I´d expect prices be par with London as they are importing a lot of costly stuff like fresh tuna and premium sake.

I think there is at least one Korean place open but haven´t been there. Anyway, most Korean restaurants I´ve eaten at in Europe are not allowed to use at-table charcoal grills because of fire safety and ventilation regulations. Takes away a lot of the fun and taste.

A pho joint would get a warm welcome also from this corner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jpatokal
OMG! Could there finally be a halfway decent Japanese restaurant in Helsinki? Any idea how stratospheric the prices will be?

Now if somebody would only open a Korean place and a Vietnamese joint...
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Old Jun 17, 06, 12:33 pm   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosburger
Well, I´ve thought of Kabuki as a fairly decent place despite of the somewhat dusty interior. As for Yume I´d expect prices be par with London as they are importing a lot of costly stuff like fresh tuna and premium sake.
I've always been really unimpressed with Kabuki... the appearance I actually kinda like, it's like a homey shokudo back in Japan, but the food just isn't that good and the prices are crazy.

Quote:
I think there is at least one Korean place open but haven´t been there.
Koto is run by Koreans, but it's a Japanese restaurant and even their yakiniku (which should be bulgogi in disguise) is pretty bad.
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Old Jun 20, 06, 10:52 am   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpatokal
OMG! Could there finally be a halfway decent Japanese restaurant in Helsinki? Any idea how stratospheric the prices will be?

Now if somebody would only open a Korean place and a Vietnamese joint...
I believe it is about 70 euros for the kaiseki dinner set at Yume. Menu is available here.

There is a Korean place in Kruununhaka, on Mariankatu. They make some decent dishes. I kinda liked their kimchi jigae last time.

Last edited by ORD Finn; Jun 27, 06 at 2:43 pm. Reason: Added link
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Old Jun 20, 06, 11:27 am   #9
 
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I posted a few restaurant recommendations in an earlier thread:
http://flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=551754
(the original thread includes links to the restaurants' homepages)

Quote:
Some of my favorite restaurants in Helsinki include:

Demo
tel. (09) 2289 0840
Uudenmaankatu 9-11
demo@restaurantdemo.fi
Reserve a table ahead! This is a small and popular place run by ambitious, but very nice young chefs. Cuisine is Scandinavian-French style. Service is great.

George
Kalevankatu 17
tel. (09) 647 662
The chef is very good and has one Michelin star.

Nokka
Kanavaranta 7
Tel. +358-9-687 7330
This place is in a nice old red-brick warehouse. Good food made mostly from local "Finnish" ingredients.

Havis
Eteläranta 16
Tel: +358-9-6869 5660
The best upscale seafood restaurant in town.

All the restaurants mentioned above are quite upscale and pricey. For a 'rougher' experience (with great food!) try
Sea Horse
Kapteeninkatu 11
(09) 628 169

If you want to try reindeer stew, I'd forget those touristy Lapland theme restaurants and go to
Manala
Dagmarinkatu 2
(09) 580 77 707
Well, maybe I would not go there for a business dinner (or wearing a business suit)... but you won't leave feeling hungry
What comes to the restaurants mentioned by the OP, I have to say I only like Villa Thai and Ichiban out of them. Well, Sundmans is great too, but if you are going for that high price level, there are better options.

Maybe I should also correct my earlier recommendations... I had a dinner at Nokka very recently and was quite dissappointed with their food and indifferent service this time.

Last edited by ORD Finn; Jun 20, 06 at 11:33 am.
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Old Jun 20, 06, 11:38 pm   #10
 
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One interesting note about Demo, the restaurant mentioned by ORD Finn. I believe one of their cooks is always on rotation at FINDS ( http://www.finds.com.hk/ ), a Scandinavian restaurant in Hong Kong. While I haven`t eaten at either place, reviews have been consistently good at both locations.

Any current recs for the seasonal island restaurants?
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Old Jun 22, 06, 6:28 pm   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosburger
Any current recs for the seasonal island restaurants?
I'm dining at one on Monday and will update then.
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Old Jun 24, 06, 10:23 pm   #12
 
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On to steak, where Helsinki is lacking behind many other cities in Europe, not to even mention the US. Would be room for any enterprising American chef to try his/her luck.

I think the consensus is that the spartan and diner type Grill Toro in the Tapiola suburb offers the best steaks around. The Johan Ludwig at the SAS Radisson Royal hotel and the classic Lehtovaara with their signature Couer de fillet provencale for two come close second.

Grill Toro
Louhentie 16, 02130 Espoo
Tel (09) 460 427
http://www.grillitoro.fi/

Johan Ludvig
Radisson SAS Royal Hotel,
Runeberginkatu 2, 00100 Helsinki
Tel: 020 1234 800 Fax 020 1234 646

Lehtovaara
Mechelininkatu 39, 00250 Helsinki
Tel: (09) 440 833 Fax (09) 454 0954

Last edited by mosburger; Jun 25, 06 at 4:00 am.
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Old Jun 25, 06, 11:49 am   #13
 
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It's been years since we've been to Helsinki. We keep saying we'll go back, and this Helsinki culinary thread certainly whets our appetite.

I recall then that the Torni hotel had a small but very delightful restaurant ( we enjoy a salmon soup starter which still resides in our memories if not our stomachs to this day ). Has anyone been to the Torni recently? I also recall a summer beer garden outside the Torni ( O Malleys? ).

Back then, I was just learning Finnish and was not at all confident in the language. Yet my first "real " conversation in Finnish takes place in a Chinese restaurant where they spoke only Mandarin, Finnish, or a little German. Forced to operate in Finnish, I manage to get things done and I remember the irony of the moment when the first time I really use Finnish, it is not with a Finn, but with a Chinese waiter who has his own Sino-Finnish accent. I also recall that it was a very good meal, but also expensive ( $65 USD back in the days before the Euro is circulating).

Barry
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Old Jun 25, 06, 8:18 pm   #14
 
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The last time I ate at the main restaurant at Torni must have been in the 80'ies so cannot be of help regarding that. But both O'Malleys and the rooftop Atelje bar are still going strong as far as I know. O'Malleys offers a decent all day cooked breakfast, fish & chips and a few other pub standards so you don't have to go hungry there. There is an American Bar within the hotel as well, but I personally prefer the Hotel Palace for martinis & co.

Another traditional Brit style pub with a good drink selection ( including Real Ale ) is the nearby Angleterre, but I wouldn't encourage to try the prefabricated food. For rugby and cricket TV coverage, the Angleterre might be the premier spot in town. The Old Skipper's on the southern tip of Helsinki is another place to spend a nice "pub" evening with reasonably good food and drink ( and occasional live music ).

Last edited by mosburger; Jun 26, 06 at 2:56 am. Reason: added some details
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Old Jun 30, 06, 5:12 am   #15
 
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Lets' continue with fish and seafood. Now this is one category where Helsinki truly shines:

Finnish fish:

Havis as successor to the legendary Havis Amanda ( "Daughter of the Baltic" ) and included in the splendid recs by ORD Finn.

Messenius
Messeniuksenkatu 7
Tel: (09) 241 4950
http://www.messenius.fi

This fine neighbourhood place outside the city centre is famed for the "catch of the day", often caught by the fishing enthusiast owners themselves. Also fairly good steaks for the carnivores amongst us.

Finnish fish and seafood:

Rivoli
Albertinkatu 38, 00180 Helsinki
Tel (09) 643 455 Fax (09) 647 780
E-mail: kala.cheri@rivoli.inet.fi

Traditional fine dining restaurant quite close to the Sas Royal and Scandic Simonkentta hotels. Specialities include oysters, shellfish and mussels in season ( this was the first place to import them at all ) and Zander in a onion and cream sauce trad style.

Carelia
Mannerheimintie 56, 00260 Helsinki
Tel (09) 270 90 976 Fax (09) 270 90 977

Finnish-Italian with a strong fish and seafood emphasis. Oysters and other seafood in Winter, local fish in the Summer season.

Fried herring with potato mash:

"Working class" fare similar to fish & chips in Britain and a mainstay in several Helsinki restaurants. Good versions can be found f.ex at Salve, Sea Horse, Elite, Kosmos and their luxury cousin at Savoy.

Crayfish:

From end of July until early September it's worthwhile to ask for crayfish menus and prices at many of the better restaurants in Helsinki. It's not cheap, you don't get full from the crayfish alone and there are many rituals involved but it should be tried at least once. Or try to sneak onto a corporate crayfish party guestlist, places are extremely coveted at some.

Last edited by mosburger; Jun 30, 06 at 6:32 am.
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