before we start, i’d like to say that this blog post is just for fun. i am definitely not an expert, especially since i’ve only lived here for 8 years, but this post is based on my own observation during that time.
so… if you’ve never been to Finland (okay, to be fair, i’m only going to talk about the metropolitan area: Helsinki and around it) and are planning to do so one day, you might be wondering how easy or hard it is to find food that you’re used to eating in your own country. well, here is a small guide for that.
in no particular order, the most common food served by restaurants/eating places that you can basically find in almost every corner of the street (not including fast food restaurants) are…
1. pizza place. the pizzas here are the thin crusted ones, though of course some places offer the pan pizzas as well. another trivia is that most of these pizza places also serve kebabs (or pizzas with all kinds of kebab toppings). yum! there are so many pizza places, and almost every week a new pizza place opens around your neighbourhood (we know this because they always send leaflet to our mail). it’s literally easier to find the nearest pizza place than the nearest McD’s.
2. Indian food. there are the “stop and go” kinds, small-ish places where they sell 9 or 10 different set meals, same meals everyday. there are also the more “serious” kinds, with pages of menu filled with different types of Indian delicacies. some of these more serious ones play actual Indian (or Bollywood) music/videos. as for the quality of the food, i have not yet tasted any bad ones in any of these places so far! also getting more common these days are Nepalese restaurants. just like pizza places, Indian & Nepalese restaurants are quite common, there’s bound to be one in every neighbourhood.
3. Tex Mex. okay, this one isn’t a “place”, but rather surprisingly it is so common that in every hypermarket, supermarket, or even smaller markets, there’s always an aisle or a minimum of a separate shelf devoted to Tex Mex. from the tortillas, salsa sauce, down to the guacamole dips of all kinds, they’re always there. i don’t think i saw any Tex Mex aisle/shelf in supermarkets elsewhere, but then again i haven’t been abroad that much, perhaps i’m wrong?
4. Chinese food. another common thing, like pizza places and Indian restaurants. although, for this one, i can’t say i’ve tried them that much, so i can’t tell if all of them are as good as the others, as is the case with the Indian food. and the funny thing is, at least lately, these Chinese restaurants also serve sushis. which brings us to number…
5. sushi place. when i first came to Finland for a visit, let me say that i can count the number of sushi restaurants available in this area with one hand. but now, ohhhh… it makes me so happy to find more and more new sushi place opening up here and there. as a sushi lover, i would strongly suggest though that you choose your sushi place wisely. making sure the place is clean is our number one rule, but then again Finland has quite a strict hygiene rule when it comes to restaurants. still, since what you’re eating are generally raw fish, it won’t hurt to be extra careful. i myself prefer going to sushi places where they serve the sushis fresh for the customer, but i admit i’ve also eaten at sushi buffets as well. i haven’t had a single problem with any of my sushi-eating experiences here.
6. vegetarian/vegan food. being a vegetarian/vegan is so common here that there are actually quite a few places that offer only vegan/vegetarian menu. there’s also always vegetarian/vegan menu in any restaurant, no matter how small or big the place is.
7. berries & peas (mostly in the summer). when it’s the season, small berry & pea marketplaces/kiosks start popping up here and there, all around the city. they are usually local products, and the prices are slightly more expensive than when you pick them up yourself in one of those “pick your own strawberries” fields. but unless you live near the countryside (like us), who has time for that, right? it’s such a treat to munch fresh strawberries and cherries in a long hot summer day, i can tell you that!
8. buns. mostly, of course, cinnamon buns, but you can find any other buns just about everywhere, too. a small bakery or cafe is much easier to find than, say, a doughnut place. (i know what you’re thinking, what’s the difference between a cafe and a doughnut place? if you have lived in a place where J Co doughnuts exists, believe me, you’ll know the difference.) even in very rare occasions that i happened to go to some local pubs, they served buns there. (but no doughnuts.)
and now for the rarest foods or non-existent ones…
1. fried chickens. yeah, you know, we have probably 2 places that say that they have fried chickens. but it’s not the same kind of fried chicken as a REALLY REAL FRIED CHICKEN. oh well. Finns have healthy eating habits, i get that. but i do miss them fried chickens. sniff.
2. wok food, Asian style. this is rare, though not non-existent. and out of the small few that are existing, only 1 counts as a real Asian style wok, in my opinion. it’s a small place, a “stop and go” kind that only sells 9 or 10 set menu, but the taste is so real Asian, i’m always transported immediately back to the streets of Jakarta whenever i eat there.
3. sea food, other than fish, served hot. there are of course plenty of fish dish here, and then there are the crayfish. as much as i love my salmons and crayfish, i must say… i miss eating grilled shrimps & squid, something i could easily get from a foodstall on the side of the road in Jakarta. actually, let’s just move on straight to number…
4. Indonesian restaurant. not entirely non-existent anymore, i’m happy to report, as there is one place that serves Indonesian food every Sunday (and i heard it’s good!). i actually know some Indonesian women here who cook so well, i have no doubt they would succeed if they start an open-everyday restaurant. i sometimes wonder why they don’t just go ahead and do it (come on, people!! i want to eat Indonesian food without having to cook them myself!). but this is a good start, right? it’s just too bad they only open on Sundays and i’m almost always at work. hope business is going well with them that they will consider opening on other days, too. 🙂
i’m getting quite hungry writing about these food (especially hungry for those food in the rare/non-existent list, ugh) and it’s past midnight, so i’m gonna call it a day. remember, this is just for fun and in no way meant to be taken seriously. just don’t go looking for fried chickens when you come visit Finland. opt for berries and buns instead! 😉