When I Googled the title for this article, I was quite pleased. No results found for, “The Tale of the Open-Face Sandwich Sushi Virgin.” Bucket list item checked off, but you, dear reader, probably clicked on this article hoping for an explanation, so let me tell you a tale.
Some tourists meandering around Strøget, Copenhagen’s main pedestrian shopping strip, might know what smørrebrød is. (Whether it’s basic or elaborately dressed, there’s no question that the open-face sandwich is basically the national dish of Denmark.) What they might not have heard of is the tale behind the iconic Danish dish. Legend has it that an entrepreneurial little girl first began selling open-face sandwiches piled upon a slab of rye bread (as a substitute for a plate) back in the Middle Ages. The King rode by and declared the girl’s title to be ‘smørrebrødsjomfru’ (open-face sandwich virgin). The problem with delicious smørrebrød is that you can’t really do a smørrebrød tasting without wasting a lot of food. Enter the entrepreneurial owners of Royal Smushi Cafe who decided to combine scrumptious smørrebrød with the compactness of sushi and, voila, smushi (petite versions of Danish smørrebrød) was born.
At Royal Smushi Cafe you can order two, three or four smushies. You have eight different kinds of smushies that you can choose from. There’s a liver pate smushi and even a sol over Gudhejm option (smoked mackerel, egg yolk, herbs and radishes). For our smushi sampling we opted for an avocado smushi (avocado, pickled onions, chips, herb mayo and watercress) and a brisket smushi (horseradish, pickles and parsley). Typically you wash smørrebrød down with schnapps, but we opted for a local Humlefryd beer and a cappuccino instead.
Our smushi tasting felt a bit like English tea time and Royal Smushi Cafe’s coutryard was a wonderful respite from crowded Strøget.
Even entering Royal Smushi Cafe is a bit of an experience in and of itself since you have to pass through a gate in order to get there.
You can opt to eat inside where the decor is a bit more modern…
…and there’s a fabulous little gift shop loaded with goodies.
If you do sit inside, it’s tough not to be tempted by Royal Smushi Cafe’s dessert case.
Your other option is to dine outside in Royal Smushi Cafe’s courtyard which is sandwiched between two other artisans Royal Copenhagen (known for its iconic porcelain) and Georg Jensen (the renowned Danish silver design house).
I’d highly recommend sitting in the serene courtyard if you can nab a seat and the weather is nice. Given the prominence of smørrebrød in Danish cuisine and how artfully Royal Smushi Cafe elevates the humble open-face sandwich, it’s worth spending an hour or two with owner Lo Østergaard and her team. Consider wandering through Royal Copenhagen and Georg Jensen first to drink in visions tasteful Danish designs and then head over to Royal Smushi Cafe to fill your stomach with a completely different form of Danish art.
Royal Smushi Cafe
1160 Copenhagen, Denmark
Hours: Monday Through Thursday 9:00am to 7:00pm, Friday and Saturday 9:00am to 8:00pm and Sunday 9:00am to 6:00pm
Phone: +45 33 12 11 22
Pricing (All in Danish Krone or DKK): Breakfast Items (Soft Boiled Egg, Eggs Benedict, Danish Beef Sandwich, etc.) 55 to 155, Two Smushi 100, Three Smushi 150, Four Smushi 195, Beer 45 to 70, Schnapps 45 to 55, Lemonade, Iced Tea and Cold Pressed Organic Juice 65