Helsinki, Finland

4 days with friends in Finland

Amazing Meals

Meals at Olo and Gaijin

Written February 7, 2016 in Travel, Europe

This post is part of the 2 part photo collection, Helsinki, Finland.

Although we were only in town for 4 days (and technically one of those days we were in Estonia), we knew we wanted to eat something unique. Matt and Danielle mentioned their favorite sushi place, Gaijin, was one they wanted to go back to before leaving the city, and we knew we had to try it.

For a taste of Finland, we picked out Olo, a 1 Michelin star place that focuses on Scandinavian flavors.


At Gaijin, there are a few food options. You can go the usual sushi route, order entrees, or go with a set omakase menu. The trick with the omakase choice is that the entire table needs to join. We were happy to be eating with adventurous eaters (who also knew what to order), and we all grabbed the omakase.

Right away, I wanted to try the “Foie, Unagi and Truffle Nigiri”, but that would have to wait.


We usually drink sake at sushi places, but their cocktail menu was too interesting to ignore. Marilyns first drink, the Tsukiji Fish Market, featured salmon in it! My favorite drink for the night was a Shiso (like the leaf) Cobbler – crushed ice and drunk with a straw. Another drink was an almond liqueur and whiskey combination which resulted in an egg nog like concoction. The biggest downside was that we couldn’t try everything.


At only 66€ for the tasting menu, it’s an amazing value – though you might want something else to quell any hunger. We grabbed some soft shell crab buns to help.

Here’s the full menu:

Mussel & Jalapeno
Green mussel, lemon shizo dressing, tomato jalapeno salsa

Pork Bun
Pork belly, kimchi mayonnaise, pickled cucumber, soft bread

Sashimi Tasting
Selection of sashimi, roe, wasabi-yuzu dressing, wakame, wasabi mayonnaise

Foie, Unagi and Truffle Nigiri
Glazed eel, foie gras, truffle, teriyaki rice, seaweed caviar

Saikyo Miso Salmon & Kelp Seaweed
Saikyo-miso marinated salmon, charred cauliflower,kelp seaweed and dashi emulsion, bonito, seaweed caviar

Baby Back Pork Ribs
pork ribs, soy mirin caramel, togarashi

X.O. Scallops
Fried scallops, rare Chinese X.O sauce, bonito, seaweed caviar

Bo Ssäm Gaijin
Grilled pork belly, salad leaves, pickles, kimchi, sesame dressing, chili paste

Sake Beetroot
Vanilla beetroot sorbet, crispy beetroot, sake gelee, vanilla flavored beetroot broth


The Sake Beetroot dessert was a perfect finish to the meal.

Gaijin Favorites

Every course was memorable, but the Pork Ribs, the Jalapeno muscle and (of course) the Foie, Unagi and Truffle Nigiri stood out. The Nigiri just melted in our mouths, while the Jalapeno muscle was a great start – waking us up. If you’re in town and want to try a amazing sushi meal at a Michelin Bib Gourmet place, check out Gaijin.


Very rarely do we go into a meal not knowing what to expect. Aside from knowing Olo had a focus on Scandinavian flavors and a good reputation, we were in the dark. Their website gives three options for your meal – “The Shorter Way”, which is a smaller tasting menu, “The Journey” which is their normal tasting menu and one other evening with a chef. We went with “The Journey”.

Our classic menu is The Journey filled with wonderful Scandinavian tastes that you can enjoy without hurry in our Dining Room. Wheather there is a charming little taster or a bigger portion on your platter we will serve it with a story. Welcome to enjoy!

Rather than wine pairings, we went with a few bottles to drink as a table, as we were still recovering from our Gaijin cocktails the night before. The full menu for the night reads like a tour of everything amazing.

Cep from North Karelia, herbs from Kotipelto garden, sunchoke from Liljendal, pumpkin from Lappeenranta, Västerbotten cheese from Sweden, king crab from Arctic Ocean, whitefish from Åland, organic emmer from Malmgård, beef from Finland, scallop from Norway, monkfish from Denmark, deer from Middle Finland, Finnish celeriac and seabuckthorn berries from Merimasku.


From when you sit down and choose your own adventure, they bring out a small uncooked container of truffle bread that would be served later on in the meal. It’s hard to describe how fragrant the bread was, or how little shame we felt when eating the butter straight when the bread ran out.


The meal started with a rapid fire collection of single bite appetizers. The unfortunate part of having a meal such as this was that we weren’t able to remember the description of every dish, and since the menu changed everyday there was no easy place to look this up.

The pumpkin from Lappeenranta and the crispy and smokey chip were my favorites here.


Each entree was a perfectly balanced small course, with a saltiness level I can never achieve at home. Even with only a few bites for each, my mouth would be in love after each mouthful, drowning in fat and umami. The very first entree stood out for me – a colorful king crab dish with local greens and a foamy sauce.


Ok, when it comes to desserts it’s difficult to wow me. I enjoy just about anything, but it’s rare that I’ll eat a dessert and remember it long after the meal. The second dessert (there were 3!) rated as one of these few standouts in my life. The first, which was a disassembled gram cracker cake was itself delicious, but the 2nd stole the show.

At first glance, this looks like orange ice cream with a marshmallow on it. But in actuality, this was a seabuckthorn berry sorbet. What it hidden by the picture is how perfectly matched and airy the marshmallow is – acting more like a soft sugary texture. The small globes of sourness offset the sweeter ice cream, but the crunchy black bits (which I wish I remember what they were) kept each bite interesting.


No plastic container for the check here – it’s all about a purse check holder.


This dinner at Olo ranks as one of my top 5 meals of my life. It’s difficult to describe how balanced each course was, leaving me feeling refreshed and yet as if I’d just explored the north. The service was also top notch, with an amazing wine recommendation that I hope to try again. After our meal, we were even able to chat with the chef who prepared our dessert as we gushed over how amazing it was. I would return to Olo without a doubt next time I’m in Finland.

This post is part of the 2 part photo collection, Helsinki, Finland.