Farang: An Asiatic dining experience in Helsinki
For the celebration of Cindy’s and mine 2-year-anniversary, we decided to spoil ourselves and try the restaurant Farang. It’s the big sister restaurant to Gaijin and Bronda, at which we already dined and enjoyed. All of them are in Helsinki(and Stockholm) and offer fine-dining experiences with cuisinesderived from different parts of the world.
Farang is known for its take on being inspired by south-east asian cuisine. So you can imagine the excitement of Cindy to try out this restaurant.
As Cindy and I don’t go to fine dining restaurants on a regular basis, we love to try the tasting menus to get as many impressions as possible from the dining experience. And yes, it does come with a price and today we will tell you if it’s worth it.
Farang offers several tasting menus. One seasonal, one standard and a vegetarian/vegan tasting menu. While Cin went for their standard tasting menu, I had the vegetarian option.
Course No. 1
CHA PLU ‘Local Tempeh’
The first one was actually for both of us the same. While Cindy avoids Salmon for ethical reasons, she also got the vegetarian option instead. First of all, Cindy and I are huge fans of Tempeh. For its taste and also healthy aspects. If you don’t know yet about how healthy Tempeh actually is then you better start googling!
The appetizer was literally an explosion of spices happening in our mouths. The tamarind sauce and Cha Plu soaked the tempeh, which is why you only taste a hint of the tempeh. I don’t recall tasting much of the coriander, but the coconut added some sweetness and fragrance to it.
Course No. 2
Tofu & Daikon ‘Vietnamese’ | Hamachi Sashimi ‘Coconut & Lime’
The sauce of the vegetarian option is a bit sweet and sour and goes very well with the rice. Also the pickled radish adds well to the sweet and sour and has a great crunch to it. The tofu is sprinkled on top of it and is barely noticeable, but also adds a nice texture to the bite. The chilli on top fires up the spices. All together the flavours work perfectly together.
My Hamachi sashimi is freshness. The cut was thin enough leaving you wanting me but not too thin that it feels like eating rice paper. The coconut and lime sauce is flavorful, coconut-y, creamy with a touch of citrus and foamy tangy feeling on the tip of your tongue. I also love the crispy shallots & greens in it.
Course No. 3
Som Tam ‘Farang Style’ | Crispy Softshell Crab ‘Salt & Pepper’
The salad of the Som Tam makes you actually think that you are eating something that’s been pickled. It has a great crunch and also has a sweet and sour flavour. The snake peas add well to the crunch and the tamarind adds to the sourness to the salad. In addition they add chilli to make those taste perceptions even go wilder. Finally, Cindy said that the real stuff in Thailand would be even more explosive (the flavour), which I am not able to judge. Even though it did not contain any fish sauce, it’s taste was still very powerful.
To be honest, I was expecting this the most simple because I love crispy softshell crab and it was always something my mom made me for special occasions growing up. So yeah, I have a weak spot for it. I also heard compliments for this dish in Farang but mine that day was disappointing (I know!). It was crispy but not that crispy as authentic Asian standard. The flavour was nothing there, a bit irony and you can’t taste how good softshell crab is supposed to taste like at all. I guess because this crab was frozen for a long time. The seasoning was also off, all I remember is how salty it was and that's it. For something that was meant to deliver powerful tasty palette, this one was a big fail. (At least the salad that came with it was good).
Course No. 4
Wok Fried Sugar Snaps & Mushrooms ‘Yellow Bean’ | Crispy Pork and Palm Sugar Caramel
The veggie version reminded of the time I was eating at a Korean friend’s place. The sauce was based on soy sauce but also sweet. The mushrooms had a great flavour and were soaked in that sweet sauce. The peas added some great crunch and there was also eggplant! It didn’t show up on the menu, but added great to the meal. It had that great mushy texture and also soaked up some of the sauce’s flavour - Great!
Ok this is a fusion version of thịt kho (caramelized pork) from Vietnamese cuisine (I assume). It is a dish that has a deep, rich, addicting flavor, especially when paired with jasmine rice. The sauce is thick and glossy, very nicely made. The pork has a twist to it which was crispy and lean. Normally with this dish in Vietnam, we have the meat tender and fatty. This dish hits true to home but still feels different. Well done! Only though I wish it could be a bit less sweet.
Course No. 5
Morning Glory ‘Salt & Pepper’ Tofu
This is a dish that really tasted like something cooked at home. That means it was good. As Cindy usually cooks at home and her cooking skills are on point, it can actually considered to be really good. However, this dish did not blow us away. The crispy tofu was only partly crispy and had more of texture that is similar to a Mochi. Cindy loved it and I was actually hoping for some more crisp.
Thai-Roti Bread, Mussaman Curry
What I disliked about this is how cold it was. It was a busy night, I get it. But I really hate cold food. I don't care how tasty the curry sauce was, it couldn't taste good without being warm, especially for such an Asian dish. The curry was served as a dip for the toasted Thai-roti bread. Nothing spectacular about it.
Course No. 6
Red Curry & Pumpkin | Rendang Curry & Braised Veal Cheek
I’ve already had really good curry dishes in my life. Not only have I been to Vietnam and Thailand with Cindy and enjoyed loads of great curry dishes there, but also the great curry at home, which Cin made. I must say that it was good, but I wouldn’t say that it was the knocking my socks off. If you’ve been to Asia or if you are from Asia, you might enjoy it but it’s not that great. Anyways, I am used to having some pumpkin in my curry (thanks to Cin), and I love the soft texture and its sweet flavour. The curry had that kind of spicyness that evolves slowly and eventually you need to reach for the glass of water. Well, at least I had to do so. Anyways, it was tasty.
Same with Julius' curry dish, mine was good but nothing special. I know it's not fair to say “oh I had way better one in Asia already” but at the end of the day, this dining course is not cheap and it’s acceptable for expecting much of it. I’d say the flavour is satisfying - rich, tasty, has a lot of spices, the veal was very tender but I can also have something like it at any Thai restaurant in Helsinki honestly.
Course No. 7 - Dessert
I think neither of us fancied this dessert. The pitaya sorbet had some sourness to it, which I liked, but it was nothing extraordinary except being refreshing. But we don't go to Farang for a popsicle kind of refresh, right?For the fruits, I assume that it’s kind of special, because high quality fruits are being used, but again, if you have been to a country that has very flavourful exotic fruits, this is nothing special. Cindy said it tasted like something from a can for her and she’s not a fan at all. It’s basically a fruit-salad in coconut milk. I liked it and ate it but I wished for something way better.
As I’m with Cindy, who cooks very delicious asian food, I don’t think we’ll make our way to Farang again. It was good, don’t get us wrong, but for us it’s just something that we can have at home as well. We would rather go to the restaurant Bronda or Gaijin again (Sorry, we don’t have a blogpost about those yet) because at least they serve something Cindy doesn't already make on a daily basis. By the way, we also had a wonderful Riesling throughout the evening, which was Farang-exclusively made by an Austrian wine-maker, who loved the restaurant so much and therefore named it after the restaurant.
Have you dined at this hyped restaurant or do you plan to go? Let us know!