Gaijin, which translates from Chinese to “improve,” focuses heavily on reinventing flavors from Northern Asia. There are elements of Northern Chinese, Korean and Japanese influence sprinkled across Gaijin’s menu. Owners Tomi Björck and Matti Wikberg both have established careers in the culinary world. Björck is known for his involvement in four Helsinki hot spots (Farang, Gaijin, Boulevard Social and Bronda) and a restaurant in Sweden as well (Farang Stockholm). Björck and Wikberg first notably crossed paths at Chez Dominique and played a role in helping the esteemed Finnish restaurant earn its dual Michelin stars. Gaijin is Björck and Wikberg’s second restaurant endeavor together. (Their first joint offering was Farang, which focuses predominantly on southeastern Asian dishes.)
Our foray into the menu began with Gaijin’s double pork buns made with grilled pork, kimchi mayonnaise, pickled cucumber and deliciously soft doughy buns. Almost all of the dishes on Gaijin’s menu are meant to be shared family style. There are dim sum dishes like a beef short rib and bone marrow teriyaki dumplings as well as snack items like a local beef tartar accompanied by truffle rice crackers. Mains consist of everything from a garlic and ssämjäng roasted lobster to a braised pork kimchi hot pot as well as mains from the grill (like baby back pork ribs and chicken yakitori togarashi).
The next dish we tried was a stunningly fresh take on nigiri. The chefs took smoked duck and combined it with a miso mayonnaise, teriyaki rice, peanuts and topped it with a delightful foie gras creme.
Our favorite dish of the night was a wonderful soft shell crab. Gaijin gave us a crispy togarashi flavored soft shell crab and added yuzu and chili creme to it. We also ate a petite salad made with grilled avocado and tofu. If you’re hankering for a fresh take on the far East while in Europe, Gaijin presents a wonderful opportunity for you to partake in dim sum and small plates without having to commit to just one dish.
Address: Bulevardi 6
00120 Helsinki, Finland
Hours: Monday Through Friday 11:30am to 12:30am, Saturday 5:00pm to 12:30am, Sunday 5:00pm to 11:00pm
Phone: +358 10 322 9386
Prices (All in Euros): Snacks 4€ to 14€, Dim Sum 4€ to 5€, Fresh Items 24€ to 28€, Mains 26€ to 47€, Grill Items 24€ to 31€, Sides 3€ to 9€, Tasting Menus 64€ to 69€ Per Person