Helsinki’s robust restaurant scene has its share of Nordic kitchens, but there are several which diverge from that very trendy road. Pastor Drink & Dine stands out in this category by bringing a completely different flavour profile to the scene. While you can find several restaurants who serve non-European fare in Helsinki, Pastor is the only one serving Nikkei style food.
The dishes at Pastor reflect the flavours of Peru and Japan with a Nordic influence. This unusual spin sets the cuisine at Pastor apart, especially when you consider that within the Nordic area there are no other Nikkei restaurants, and they are near impossible to find in Europe (Barcelona and London are the closest alternatives).
What is Nikkei cuisine?
For anyone unfamiliar with the term, Nikkei refers to Japanese-Peruvian cuisine, which originated when Peruvian ingredients were used in place of the traditional ingredients found in Japanese dishes.
Nikkei is often mistakenly thought of as a new-fangled fusion food trend when in fact, Nikkei has nearly a century of history behind it. An influx of Japanese labourers into Peru during the late 19th century resulted in this intriguing mix of cuisines. Japanese cooks needed to improvise when the usual ingredients were not available and over time the cuisine developed its own unique identity.
In the same way that Nikkei has developed gradually, the dishes at Pastor have continued to evolve. It is an ongoing process intended to bring out the best possible flavour from each dish that makes the final cut onto their menu. Dishes at Pastor have a simplicity in appearance that often disguises the hidden complexity and technique that goes into its making.
As Head Chef Richard Sloan explained, the underlying philosophy behind their menu is that flavour trumps style and presentation. The freedom to explore and develop culinary ideas and tastes is actively encouraged in their kitchen, and the result is a unique and personalised interpretation of Nikkei.
Their desire to always kick things up a notch was well demonstrated in April 2019, through their non-profit, live-streamed event at which Pastor’s chefs worked with Mexican chef Jorge Vallejo, who was the #11 chef in the world in 2018. Together with several of Finland’s top chefs, they put on an incredible food event at which Vallejo prepared some of his signature dishes and shared his philosophy about food with the diners who were in attendance. You can view the stream here.
What’s on the menu
The menu is designed with shareability in mind – so large groups, whether with friends or in a corporate setting, work well when dining at Pastor. The menu is intentionally structured loosely so that you can decide for yourself what courses you want to have – stiff dining code of conduct need not apply!
Starting options include fresh and delicious ceviche, a Peruvian classic that (in Nikkei tradition) is prepared using the clean, cutting techniques that are traditionally associated with Japanese dishes like sashimi. Non-ceviche starters are also included on the à la carte menu, which is then followed by a selection of main courses and pastor classics, and the finale – dessert.
AND let’s not forget the creative cocktails on their drinks list – it ought to be mentioned that Pastor started off as a cocktail lounge first, and they have carried on crafting unusual and high-standard cocktails that are sure to whet your appetite and your curiosity all at once (Check out their drinks menu to see why!). Feeling for something a tad less daring? Pastor’s sommelier Pekka Koiranen can handle that, with a selection from their 200-strong wine list.
Pastor Drink & Dine is open from Tuesday to Thursday, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m; Friday 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. and Saturday 4 p.m to 3 a.m.
Erottajankatu 4, 00120 Helsinki