• April 16, 2017

Review: Farang, Helsinki – Asian Restaurant with Vegan Options

Review: Farang, Helsinki – Asian Restaurant with Vegan Options

550 412 duslkeyv

Thai restaurants are easy to find in Helsinki, but those who have eaten Thai food abroad may be disappointed in the selection consisting of mostly coconut milk based plate curries. Even such staples as pad thai and black rice pudding are difficult to find in Finnish Thai restaurants. Many Thai places in Finland don’t serve any desserts except for fried bananas and ice cream.

Farang openeds its doors in Taidehalli (Art Hall) in 2009. Run by top Finnish chefs, the restaurant serves modern Asian food on beautiful, yet unique dinnerware (visit this page for more information) – also, I recommend giving this a read if you’d like to know how to up your game when it comes to food presentation: you can find out more on this page. Japanese, Indonesian and Vietnamese flair is also present in the menu, the latter two a pleasant surprise as there are no Indonesian or Vietnamese restaurants in Helsinki.

Menu Overview

The Farang dinner menu features half a dozen starters, a similar number of cold main dishes, a dozen warm main dishes and half a dozen dessert plates. The main dishes are meant to be shared between several people, so for example two people could order two or three main dishes. There is also a special dessert selection that can be ordered for two.

The menu offers plenty of fish and seafood, but also several vegan options, including most (possibly all) of the desserts. Many exotic ingredients from pandanus leaves to banana blossoms are featured. One of Farang’s most famous dishes is caramelized pork.

There are three different tasting menus, one of which is vegan. The menus can only be ordered for the whole table (a minimum of two persons). Each includes 7-8 different courses and jasmine rice, but no drinks are included in the price. The waiter gives you a choice of dinnerware.

Dinner, including the tasting menus, is served from 5 PM to 11 PM. Lunch (which has a separate menu) is served from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM.

The drink list includes wines, beers, cocktails and other kinds of drinks

Service and Experience

Farang is stylish and sophisticated, but relaxed and not too fancy, so it does not feel uncomfortable for those not used to fancy restaurants. The restaurant has 70 seats and a bar serving up to 30 persons. There is also a club and a cabinet that can be reserved.

The service is friendly and helpful. The waiters are eager to help and introduce each dish of the tasting menu.

The dishes are very nicely presented. To keep with Thai traditions, instead of a fork and knife the food is served with a fork and spoon

Vegan Tasting Menu Reviewed

The “Vege” menu (55 euros) started with tempeh (fermented Indonesian soy bean cake), nuts and spices on a betel leaf. There are two other cold dishes: silken tofu with Asian herbs and black vinegar and a salad of fresh banana blossom, herbs, cashew nuts and tamarind. The tester found the betel leaf starter a bit too similar to the banana flower salad.

The warm dishes were delightful. The grilled Thai eggplants and mushrooms (including enoki and shiitake mushrooms) were served in a simple sauce with soy sauce and smoky black vinegar. Even the tester’s companion who does not care for eggplants or mushrooms agreed it was the highlight of the dinner.

“Salt and pepper tofu” contains deep-fried silken tofu, which has quite a weird texture. This sauce also had smoky undertones from toasted sesame oil, which was particularly amazing on the bok choy. The final warm dish, a green curry with various vegetables was also delicious

The dessert was a wonderful fragrant mixture of different kinds of apple, for example a green apple sorbet, fresh apple marinated in vanilla and a broth of green tea and apple. Like the other courses it left a pleasant taste in the mouth even after finishing.

Some of the plates were a bit too similar and the use of unmarinated silken tofu (which has a fairly uninteresting flavour and texture) in several dishes seemed weird. There could have been more creamy dishes among the sour and smoky ones. As a whole, the vegan tasting menu was flavourful, fairly creative, and far superior to most vegan food served in Finland.

Ordering a seven-course menu in a fine restaurant can make one worried that the dishes are going to be tiny, but besides the starters and the dessert they were of decent size. The menu as a whole was filling, but did not leave an overly heavy feeling.

Contact Information

Farang is located in Taidehalli (Art Hall) near the Parliament house and the Helsinki City center. The address is Ainonkatu 3.

The restaurant is closed on Mondays. On Sundays the kitchen is closed (only drinks are served).

Note that just like most restaurants, Farang changes their menu from time to time, so the dishes mentioned here may no longer be available and prices and hours are subject to change.