Jouni Toivanen

This 42-year old father of two from Helsinki likes to get wild. Wild ingredients, primarily, picked from nature and filled with energy. These foraged, flavoursome food-stuffs informed the cooking at Luomo, Toivanen’s Michelin-starred restaurant and the culmination of a 23-year (and counting) cooking career that’s seen him work in plenty of high-calibre, Michelin-starred kitchens. Vorschmack – a traditional Finnish dish made of ground meat, onions and anchovies or herring – is one of his favourite dishes and he knows just the place in the Finnish capital to try it.

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Beautiful Food And Natural Wine

Wino is one of my favourite restaurants in Helsinki at the moment. It’s small and cozy with good quality food, and a great selection of natural wines. It’s the Kallio district, so it’s easy to get to. It can be busy on the weekends, so try to make a reservation if you can.

A Neighbourhood Bistro

I also like Gastro Café Kallio, which serves classic bistro-style food in a relaxed atmosphere. It’s a nice spot if you want to go where the locals go. They also do a nice breakfast and make their own bread.

For A Quick Lunch

For lunch I often stop by Pompier, which has a very nice selection for the price, or I go to Döner Harju, which have great quality kebabs.

Exciting Additions To Helsinki’s Dining Scene

There are some new and exciting venues in Helsinki being run by young and ambitious owners who have taken influence from around the world. Places like Way Bakery & Wine Bar (bakery by day, wine bar by night), Bull and the Firm – a super trendy restaurant with great snacks and cocktails, beer bar and shop Öl Ut, and Chihuahua Julep; a cocktail bar specialising on South and North American spirits.

Also great is Inari; a newcomer run by ambitious and young ex-Noma chefs. The cuisine, mixing Korean and Finnish flavours, is delicate, and each dish has a very personal touch.

Hyper-Seasonal And Wild Ingredients

If industry friends are visiting from Helsinki, I would take them to Restaurant Grön, which has a nice relaxed environment and a very seasonal menu using wild ingredients. Or another restaurant great for experiencing the best Finnish ingredients is Juuri. Here, it’s more bistro-style dining. Classic cooking, but with a creative touch using high-quality Finnish products.

To Satisfy My Dim Sum And Sichuan Cravings

The best Chinese in town is definitely Mei Lin!

Classic Finnish Cuisine

Karljohan restaurant is a long-time favourite. It’s actually where I started my career as a chef. Sometimes I just pop in for a coffee, or for one of my favourite dishes, Vorschmack; a traditional Finnish dish made of ground meat, onions and either anchovies or herring, and then served with potatoes, pickles and sour cream.

If I’ve been away travelling, the first thing I might want to eat when I get back to Helsinki is called karjalan piirakka, which is a Karelian pie with salty egg butter on top that I get from Hakaniemen halli (food market).

Helsink’s Best Local Bars

U.Kaleva is a tiny old bar where a lot of local artists, musicians and other bohemian people go. This is where I take a lot of friends when they come to visit. Pataässä is a classic karaoke place where Finnish people go late night to sing.

Guide Last Updated August 2019

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