Picture: Nina Ijäs / Visit Finland
Traditional Finnish food can be hard to find in Helsinki, as most of the fine dining places have French or Mediterranean influences.
You can try the restaurants listed below for Finnish and Lapp favourites.
Another good way to have a taste of Finnish delicacies is to try them at lunch time – a number of restaurants serve Finnish classics like pea soup, casseroles or meat balls for lunch.
Savotta (Aleksanterinkatu 22, www.ravintolasavotta.fi) is located in the heart of tourist Helsinki by Senaatintori square. Decorated with old wood and serving its dishes on traditional Finnish china, everything matches the menu that includes lake fish, casseroles and game. If you are feeling particularly strong, try their tar-flavoured Sisu ice cream.
Aino (Pohjoisesplanadi 21, www.ravintolaaino.fi) uses domestic raw materials and seeks inspiration from traditional Finnish cuisine. The decor is a bit more upmarket and classy than many of the competitors.
Kamome (Pursimiehenkatu 12, www.kamome.fi) is populated all year round by hungry locals, media types and Japanese travellers, the latter drawn here because the Japanese movie Kamome Diner was set at the restaurant. This charmingly plain restaurant offers hearty, affordable food.
Saaga (Bulevardi 34 B, www.ravintolasaaga.fi) serves Lapp food. The Lapp cuisine has been based on what the rough nature and short summer can offer; thus, the flavours are intense and the dishes are simple but alluring. The menu here includes reindeer, fish, bear and berries.
Established some 20 years ago and thus the first Lapp restaurant in Helsinki, Lappi (Annankatu 22, www.lappires.com) gives you a taste of Northern flavours. You’ll find all the Lapp staples from salmon, reindeer and elk to cloudberries here in an interior imitating a log cottage.
Kolme Kruunua (Liisankatu 5, www.kolmekruunua.fi), established in 1952, serves traditional Finnish food. Their signature dish is meatballs with mash, and the popular herring dish is also delicious.
Konstan Möljä (Hietalahdenkatu 14, www.konstanmolja.fi) serves a Finnish buffet with traditional herring, reindeer and other fish and meat dishes. It is a great value at 19 €.
Finnjävel (Eteläranta 16, www.finnjavel.fi) is a unique, profoundly Finnish fine dining restaurant. They use traditional, sometimes forgotten, Finnish cooking methods ambitiously and create something for the future.