Sunday, March 9, 2014

A taste of Japan in the heart of Helsinki

In the Helsingin Sanomat of Friday March 8th 2014, there was an article about the sushi restaurants in Helsinki city center. Did you know that there are over 40 of them in a square kilometer? After the burgers, kebabs and Nepalese restaurants, sushi is definitively the new fast-food in Finland's capital. I've already wrote a blog about the delicious sushi buffet at Tokyo55 and in this post I will not only write about sushi but about a place that is worth visiting in order to experience the Japanese cuisine.

Dining room of restaurant Koto

Direction Lönnrotinkatu 22, a few hundreds of meters from Stockmann. Restaurant Koto is a quiet place but quite big. I've visited it on a Monday at 6pm and it was already quite full. It is better to make a reservation, especially at the end of the week and during weekends. Despite the size of the room and the number of customers, you don't feel squeezed and don't need to shout to your friend. Some of the waitresses are Japanese, the others are Finnish.

The menu card is of reasonable size and it is quite difficult to make a choice. Of course there is a selection of sushi assortments, but there are so many other deliacies classified into starters, soups, salads, warm dishes, meals with rice, Japanese stew, menus Koto special (for 2), for group, sushi and sashimi and dessert that is is not easy to choose. The menu is written in Japanese, Finnish, English and Russian.

Sushi to sashimi 

I had the sushi to sashimi assortment for starter. It is served in a round dish. If you love fish, this is excellent. There are also some sushis that you don't find easily elsewhere like red tuna, mackerel and pike perch. The rice is just perfect: not sticky, not doughy nor dry. My favorite was the red snapper which was very tasty and exclusive. Maybe the salmon roe was the most interesting when the eggs where exploding in the mouth revealing subtle flavors.

Grilled mackerel

For the main course I ordered grilled mackerel. This fish is the healthiest you can find. It contains about 2.6 omega 3 per gram which helps to increase the good cholesterol. It was served in a small plate with three grilled half fishes and a cold purée of Japanese radish Daikon. You have to add a drop of soy sauce over it. The taste was just amazing. It is probably one of the best fish dishes I ever had. The fish was juicy, tasty. And the pruée was refreshing. In Koto, you eat only with chop sticks. But don't be shy and ask the friendly staff to bring you forks and knives. Personally I am unable to eat the mackerel with them.

Custard pudding

Finally, I had a custard pudding served with grapes, slices of oranges and vanilla ice cream. The pudding was sweet but the caramel sauce was bitter. It was a nice contrast. And eating it with the ice cream was just devine.

In conclusion I have to say that Koto is a place to visit when you want to experience more than just a plate of sushis. The food is just amazing and you have to come many time to try all the delicacies. The service is efficient and friendly. Prices are a little bit higher than in other Asian restaurants but the quality is very high.

The website is only in Finnish but if you click on Ruokalista (Menu) or Lounaslista (Lunch), it is in English: Resuatrant Koto website
Address: Lönnrotinkatu 22, 00120 Helsinki
Phone number: +358 9 646 080

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