Lisa Lov

A tiger mom, in parenting talk, is a mother that raises her children in a strict, authoritarian manner. Tigermom, in Copenhagen, is a smart-casual restaurant that brings together the Chinese-Cambodian heritage of New Zealand-raised chef-owner, Lisa Lov, with the organic, ingredient-driven thinking she learned while working at Christian F. Puglisi’s beloved Relae. From regional Turkish food to zero-waste fine dining, Lov’s hit-list for the Danish capital is an equally compelling blend of cultures and influences.

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Not Your Typical Hotel Restaurant

My husband and I went to Marchal for our after-wedding brunch, and it was so good. Maybe people don’t think about it because it’s inside a hotel, or because it sort of seems like a fancy, expensive place, but it honestly blew me away. It’s not a buffet or your typical hotel brunch. You get a charcuterie and cheese plate, a basket with beautiful pastries and breads, different kinds of jams. And you can choose from one of the main dishes: they’re all very classic like eggs benedict and things like this but it’s just done so well. I haven’t heard a lot of people talking about Marchal and its brunch, but I think it’s definitely worth talking about.

Where The Industry Eats After Work

In Copenhagen, every second shop is a kebab shop. And they’re open late-night, so if you work in the restaurant industry, it’s perfect for something to eat after your shift. I’ve been going to Kosk Kebabs since I moved to Copenhagen. I used to live right beside it, so I went there all the time when I couldn’t be bothered cooking. It’s been my go-to for a long time. It has a lot of great, grilled kebabs. I really like the adana kebab, a kebab of minced meat with lots of spices grilled over charcoal. It also does a delicious lentil soup and a bunch of different Turkish pizzas that are made fresh and come out piping hot.

Further Adventures in Turkish Food

A great spot for something delicious is Street Food 108. It’s Anatolian food, so it makes things like flatbreads and Turkish pides. The flatbreads are so good: like, really, really good. The chefs make them fresh all day long. And it’s really low cost. It’s somewhere you can just pop in and pick up something to eat while you’re walking down the street.

Fried Chicken and Natural Wine

Poulette is a very new fried chicken sandwich shop that opened at the end of 2020. It’s attached to natural wine bar, Pompette. It does really good spicy chicken sandwiches, fried chicken, and an amazing vegetarian, mapo tofu burger: it’s a nice big piece of breaded and fried tofu with Sichuan oil and a mapo mayonnaise. It’s another really good, inexpensive spot. I think I’ve already been there four times during this lockdown.

A New Restaurant To Watch

Restaurant Alouette hasn’t been around for very long: I think it opened in 2018. It received a Michelin star within its first year, which is really impressive. Everything about it is beautiful: the venue, the food. It’s a really cool space with graffitied concrete walls, and it’s kind of hidden between a bunch of music studios. The food is simple and contemporary. I always hear people saying great things about Alouette. It’s a nice place to be.

Hot Pot Cooking Comes To Copenhagen

I love hot pot. It’s so good, and there are so many different styles: there’s spicy Sichuan hot pot, Vietnamese hot pot, Korean, Japanese hot pot. I grew up in New Zealand, where there are hot pot restaurants everywhere. It hasn’t really taken off here, but a couple of years ago Hot Pot Republic opened. It’s great. I’m so glad there’s a restaurant in Copenhagen doing hot pot well.

Fine Dining That Fights Waste

Amass is almost a completely zero-waste restaurant. Chef Matt Orlando is known for his efforts to make his food really sustainable. The chefs that work there are really talented. They do everything with every part of every vegetable. There are always different projects happening. Matt even opened a brewery to do things like make a stout ale beer out of the trimmings from brownies baked at Amass. They go to the greatest lengths to make sure that zero food gets wasted. All of that translates into really, really beautiful tasting and beautifully presented food. And it’s a cool environment as well. It’s got a real hip-hop vibe. The restaurant itself is a bit like a warehouse with beautiful tables and glasses, and it sits right by the harbour. It has its own little garden with herbs, vegetables and an aquaponics system. And in the evening, they will light a bonfire, so you can take your nice wine outside and sit by the harbour with the sun setting and the wood fire burning. It’s a really beautiful environment and a very unique restaurant concept. You don’t find places like Amass. I have huge respect for what Matt does.

My Favourite Pizza In The World

Bæst makes my favourite pizza in the world, its pizza number 1: passsata, garlic, stracciatella and oregano. There is nothing in the world that beats this pizza. It’s so good. The incredible thing is that the chefs make everything from scratch, from the cheese to the sausage. Oftentimes, when chefs or friends are visiting Copenhagen, I take them here and ask to show them around the kitchen and where the mozzarella is made. It’s a big restaurant, so you usually don’t have to book in advance. It’s an easy choice. It’s comforting. I mean, everybody’s happy when you’re eating pizza.

Further Adventures in Copenhagen Pizza

I really like the pizza at Surt. It’s wood-fired, Naples-style pizza and it’s really, really incredible. It’s very simple pizza, as I think pizza should be, and has a super good crust. I love the marinara pizza, with tomato sauce, garlic, olive oil and oregano. When the dough is perfect – a little bit crisp, a little bit chewy and soft in the middle – it’s all the toppings you need. It’s just perfection. The chef, Giuseppe Oliva, started the pizza program at Bæst and then went on to open Surt about a year ago. When people can start travelling again, it’s going to be a place that everyone’s going to want to visit.

An Introduction To Danish Coffee

When we lived in a world with travel, the first thing I craved when I returned home to Copenhagen was coffee. I’m quite excited to catch the metro from the airport to the station closest to my house where there is a Coffee Collective. It’s definitely the first place I go when I make it out of the airport. I really like Danish style coffee. The Danes prefer quite a light roast that’s fruitier than the darker, chocolatey roast you find in other countries.

Delicious Mexican, However You Want It

Since restaurant Sanchez opened here several years ago, I’ve been a really big fan. It’s one of my favourite restaurants in the city and it’s a spot I always take visitors to. Today, there are four Sanchez locations: the restaurant, a cantina and two taquerias. The restaurant has a set menu as well as a la carte dishes: the tamales are incredible. As the name suggests, the taquerias are focused on tacos. Sanchez Cantina is the newest venue. I guess you could say that it’s somewhere between the restaurant and taqueria: it serves tacos, tostadas, tamales and snacks, but you can sit down to eat. The food at all four locations is really, really good.

Reimagining Asian Food For Copenhagen

I opened Tigermom just over two years ago. Prior to that, I was working at Christian Puglisi’s restaurant Relæ where I was sous chef for many years. I would say that it was one of the most important work experiences that helped instil values in regard to organic, local, sustainable and seasonal food. And that’s something that I’ve brought to Tigermom along with the influences and inspirations from working abroad and growing up in New Zealand. I tried to make a restaurant that encompasses all of those things in a creative way, and one that would give people an experience that they won’t find anywhere else. It’s not a classic Asian restaurant and it doesn’t base itself in any particular region. The service is casual, the music is loud and food hits the table really fast. The food is the centre of the show. We rely on fresh, local produce, so all of the seafood is Danish or Norwegian. We use grass-fed beef from local farms and local, organic free-range chickens and eggs. The vegetables are also all organic and sourced from small, local farms. Cooking Asian food, there are a couple of products that we have to import, like rice. It was difficult to find high quality, organic rice, but I eventually found a small farm in northeast Thailand. Our product sourcing is quite complex, and it’s something we commit a lot of time to. Sometimes we have to be flexible and create flavour alternatives using local ingredients. But this is also where a lot of the creativity comes from. For example, we make the XO in-house using local seafood we get in fresh and dry ourselves. It’s probably one of the most expensive products we make. It’s a lot of work, but it tastes amazing.

Where I Take Out-of-towners

When it’s closing time at Tigermom and we have to kick people out, we send them to a bar not far from the restaurant called The Barking Dog. It’s a very relaxed, cool neighbourhood spot doing really nice cocktails. It’s been there for many, many years. The vibe is really good. It’s a great local spot to take visitors to. For Danish food like smørrebrød (open faced sandwiches), I take visitors to Schønnemann’s for lunch. It’s a very cool experience. Inside, it feels really old timey and the food is actually really sharp.

Where The Locals Drink and Relax

Another important place to take visitors to is a local bodega. It’s very Danish. There’s a bodega practically on every block in my neighbourhood. I guess it’s kind of like a pub: it’s very relaxed, there’s cheap beer, slot machines in the corner and usually a smoking room in the back. I took my cousin and her husband to a bodega when they visited, and it was an experience they really appreciated. We played Danish drinking games and put some music on the jukebox. It was a lot of fun. You can’t really get a more local experience that this.

Caring For The Community

During the first lockdown, Alchemist spent all of its time making soup and meals for the homeless. During this lockdown, we decided to do the same at Tigermom. I read that there’s been a lot more home violence during the lockdowns, so we turned all our food into soup and donated it to local women’s refuges. Speaking about community and charitable initiatives, at the beginning of 2020, we did a Friends of Australia fundraiser at Barr Restaurant. There were a bunch of restaurants involved including Kristian Baumann’s 108 (now closed), Hart Bageri, Iluka, Noma, Sanchez and us, Tigermom. We donated 100 per cent of all ticket sales from the event to The Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund. It was great to be able to contribute.

“It’s Where I Feel I Grew Most as a Chef”

Relæ is the place that is closest to my heart. Of course, it’s closed now so it’s hard to recommend, but it’s a place I want to mention. It’s where I feel I grew most as a chef, and I made so many special friendships. I had so many great experiences working there as well as eating there. When my parents came from New Zealand to visit me in Copenhagen for the first time, I took them to Relæ. I really didn’t expect them to get it or appreciate it, but they loved everything about it. They were very engaged, asking questions and had a lot of comments about the food. It made me so happy that they could see and appreciate a place that has meant so much to me. It was a very special moment.

Guide last updated March 2021

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