I’m back with the new post for one of my favourite sections on the blog: “Visit Helsinki”. I’m always asked by many where to go, what to see or where to eat when visiting Helsinki and I’m always more than happy to give suggestions and help out to experience (and taste) Helsinki at it’s best. 🙂
One of my favourite recommendations on where to go and eat, because as a self proclaimed, certified foodie and bon vivant, I’m always keeping my eyes and ears open on what good new spots have opened up in the city as well as what’s on the offer in some of the good, old favourites such as Gaijin!
As somebody who works half of the day at the office in city centre and half of the day from home, I’ve been exploring a lot lunch places in the very city centre and most of the places either offer too simple, too unhealthy or unappetising food/ meals that I don’t even want to spend the minimum of 12eur for that kind of lunch. I also like to sit down in a nice place and take a proper break from work, have somebody serve me and feed me well at the same time. 😀 For this kind of “treatment”, I’m always willing to pay a few extra bucks.
Gaijin’s tasting lunch menu has proved to be one of my favourites, it def. covers all three requirements I have just pointed out above. Gaijin’s interior is def. zen like, service is quick (as it should be during the lunch time) and food is equally pleasant to the eyes and the stomach.
In order to show Gaijin’s variety and expertise in Asian fusion kitchen, I have decided to put two lunch tasting menus to test, one regular and one “Vege” menu.
As small snacks and starters of both menus arrived avocado bun with Gaijin kimchi mayo and pickled daikon as well as green muscle with yuan kocho and seaweed caviar. Both dishes were so simple but delicious ones. I have already tasted Gaijin’s mussels before so the freshness and salty sea water taste wasn’t surprising, but the avocado bun immediately became one of my favourite dishes at the moment! Grilled avocado and kimchi mayo paired so well with the fluffy yet dense bun! YUM!
Right up followed a bite sized roasted mushroom gyozas and dim sum of the the day which was chicken with a satay like sauce. Both, the gyozas and dim sum were very delicious and coming pretty close to our favourite ones at Yauatcha and Hakkasan.
Next up came spice rice noodle salad with tofu and cauliflower tempura with mushrooms, pak chop and Gaijin’s goma dressing. Noodle salad tasted well, but maybe bit too spicy for my taste and I felt as if I was missing something in the dish ( not sure what it was but something just didn’t click right ) and cauliflower tempura was just perfect blend of crunchiness and deepness of taste. I already got sold at mushrooms and goma dressing alone! 🙂
The space in stomach started to fill up a little already but as true foodies never give up, I was very happy to see what was coming next. All of the dishes were plated so beautifully that I have eaten each dish with my eyes first and then with my other, tasting senses. 😀
Following dishes arrived: Choy sum and crispy fried tofu and pork skewer with kimchi mayo.
Choy sum as well a pak choy are my favourite type of leafy greens! I could eat them alone just like that, but somehow in this dish with crispy tofu, I didn’t like the mix of taste and didn’t think that they have mixed that well. Soy mirin dressing was bit too salty and not according to my liking.
On the other hand, the meat version of tasting menu, pork skewer had been done perfectly, chunky, tender and “falling off the skewer” pieces of pork made an explosion of the taste when mixed with kimchi mayo. It was def. a highlight of the lunch menu.
As main acts arrives miso eggplant with roasted mushrooms and hazelnuts, grilled octopus in yuzu and brown butter and finally a beef brisket with a colourful selection of small toppings such as kimchi, Japanese pickles, salad leaves, pickles, etc.
Misso roasted eggplant is possibly the best eggplant dish I have ever had. Ok, the Southern European in me still adores Caponata but a mini geisha woman in me is dominating right now so yes, I could eat dish over and over again. Perfectly done, hearty vegetarian main course.
Grilled octopus in yuzu and brown butter is the best octopus dish I’ve had in the past 10 years of my life and restaurant hopping in Helsinki. Unless you’re visiting South of Europe, octopus is usually not something I would recommend you to try in Scandinavia, esp. because it’s so rare to get it fresh and it’s also very pricy, but oh my… This octopus itself is pure art! The way how how it’s been “dressed” with yuzu brown butter, yuzu cream, walnuts, fish roe and pickled apples was simply divine. Besides avocado bun and eggplant, this was a star on the menu for me. It made me also realise that “this ain’t your regular lunchtime offer”, this was a full blown fine dining moment.
Beef brisket with selection of toppings is a perfect main course for sharing, as Gaijin’s philosophy is to share the dishes, so I would def. recommend this as a great option when dining in pair or with more friends. No fault was found in this dish either, perfect for every meat lover and if you don’t eat the Gohan rice which comes with it but instead assemble everything in the lettuce leaves, you get a very well balanced and light dish.
Final stars of the lunch menus were vegan orange and chocolate cake with blood orange sorbet and cashew as well as Mochi Mochi 2.0 – green tea flavoured white chocolate creme, strawberry and shiso sorbet with mint broth.
Vegan orange cake was a bit weird tasting to me, I couldn’t decide if I love it or dislike it completely. Maybe the blood orange sorbet didn’t work so well with the raw chocolate but I’m sure that this dessert will find many likes and approval from vegans looking for that perfect restaurant dessert.
On the other hand, Mochi Mochi was to die for! I’m a shiso junkie and this was the best Mochi ice cream I ever had anywhere!
Thank you Gaijin, this was the best lunch I had in a long time.
*This post had been made in collaboration with BW restaurants, all of the opinions are my own.
*Thank you to Miss Elina for making this collaboration possible and to all the wonderful staff at Gaijin.
*Photography by: Natali K.