Dine at Helsinki’s latest foray into creative cuisine
Contrary to what locals think, recently opened Inari is not a nod to the mystical region in Lapland. Rather it is associated with the Shinto food goddess Ukemochi okami.
“Inari brings to mind northern Finland, but in Shintoism, Inari is the goddess of rice, sake, wealth, happiness, and prosperity,” say co-owner and chef Kim Mikkola, who opened the city’s newest must-dine-at-restaurant in the Punavuori district with chef Evelyn Kim, his American-Korean wife.
Both Kim and Mikkola are seasoned Noma chefs, having worked at the Copenhagen institution for five years before moving to the Finnish capital.
The many meanings of Inari neatly mirror the concept of the restaurant, which defies categorisation. It serves a five- to seven-course surprise menu that brings together a world of flavours.
“Fusion is an old-fashioned term because these days we have so many influences from so many different places,” says Mikkola.
There’s a focus on local ingredients and vegetables, and unique (for Finland) portions such as the Korean specialty kimchi, which is made here from daikon radishes grown by the couple.
Served in small bowls, the dishes range from grilled broad beans served with a house-made rose kombucha, black leaf current oil, and herbal seasoning to a gourmet scallion pancake.
The couple has chosen every detail for the restaurant’s stylish interior which seats 28, from the glassware commissioned by Finnish glass artist Gina Salaris to the up-cycled Arne Jacobsen Series 7 (1985) chairs that came from the Goethe Institute in Helsinki.
“We want people to feel like guests in our home, not customers when they come here,” says Mikkola.
Text Katja Pantzar
Photo Marko Rantanen