Have company lunch voucher, will eat! Midday meals are a big thing here. Restaurants in Helsinki can be full at lunchtime and quite empty in the evenings. Hence, competition is tough. Here are some of my favorites.
Soup’s up at Qulma, where you can indulge in a sumptuous soup buffet with plenty of yummy trimmings such as hot chili paste, sour cream and homemade bread for just under €10. Dig into tomato-based Salmon Solyanka with olives, capers, plenty of garlic and served with dill pesto or Goulash soup made with beef, bacon and lamb. Eat as much soup as you like, but remember that baked potatoes are also on the menu as are crispy salads and innovative sandwiches. Owner and chef Marc Aulén is proud as punch of his spot with its floor-to-ceiling windows and pleasantly unpretentious atmosphere, and so he should be. Even his retro-style music is great.
Sharing space with ethically produced goods store Nudge, Rulla is a little restaurant that makes some of the best Vietnamese rolls in town. There is no end to chef and owner Marko Laasonen’s imagination. Choices include duck and sesame omelette, North Sea shrimp and fennel, overdone pork with a sauce consisting of rice wine vinegar, lime juice, chili and a little sugar. There’s not a lot that can beat this tasty, light lunch. Be adventurous by washing it all down with a glass of champagne.
Nestled amongst the locally produced products in a store called Eat&Joy Farmers Market, there’s Armas Pikaruokala (“Darling Fast Food”), but nothing could be further from the truth. Here you can eat delicious, homegrown dishes created with love. Try the doner kebabs, which are served in pita bread freshly made on the premises, sample sweet beetroot soup and lamb stew all for under €10. For a real taste of Finland, this is the place.
Under the glass roof of Kluuvi Shopping Centre, with sunshine streaming in on its glossy white floors and walls, you’ll find Hanko Sushi. The under €10 deal of miso soup, green tea, four maki and four nigiri works for anyone who’s snuck away from the conference. The salmon nigiri is the softest, most buttery fish I have ever tasted, and the seaweed salad is lip-smackingly good. In fact, the whole experience leaves you feeling satisfied.
For something a little more upmarket, there’s Ristorante Gastone, a place that consistently produces high-quality Italian food for business lunches. The menu always includes salad, a fish of the day, pasta and meat. If you’re trying to impress coworkers, ordering the delicately fried fish or leg of duck with rosemary sauce served on a bed of lentils and vegetables could earn you some style points around the office.
Photos Courtesy of Armas Pikaruokala, Qulma and Rulla