Food in Stockholm does not disappoint! With Food Tours Stockholm, we participated in a food walking tour in Stockholm’s trendy Södermalm neighbourhood, also known as “Hipster Island”. South of central Stockholm, this area was once a poor, working class neighbourhood but as prices in the city increased, the outer regions of the city developed. Now, Södermalm is a mix of hip boutiques and eateries, pedestrian-only plazas lined with restaurants, and public parks.
Once I had my fill of traditional meatballs in our first few days in Stockholm, I was ready to see what the rest of the city has to offer. In reality, modern Swedish people living in Stockholm don’t eat meatballs everyday!! (Just like how we Canadians don’t eat poutine with every meal). If you want a realistic taste of what Swedish people are actually excited to eat in Södermalm, it’s way more diverse than you would think. Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Indian are all popular restaurant choices, many of which are owned by immigrants who have brought authentic flavours from their country, to Sweden.
Here were some of the highlights on the tour:
Shanti is a restaurant opened by two brothers from India. The restaurant specializes in Bengali cuisine which is more meat heavy than typical Indian food. We had a miniature-sized chicken curry dish, complete with raita, spiced rice, and salad. As guests of the restaurant, we were invited to take a quick peek into the restaurant’s kitchen, where we saw their Tandori clay oven set to over 300 degrees for the ultra fast and intense cooking of meat and bread.
The tour made two stops at Chinese restaurants — China and Fan Yuan Shi Wu. The latter was started by two lifelong best friends from China who move to Sweden together and eventually started their own restaurant, best known for their pan-fried dumplings which can also be purchased in a frozen format and brought home.
Also from Asia, Blue Yokohama is a Japanese sushi and izakaya restaurant named after a famous Japanese song. This stop was perhaps a novelty to the Swedes on our tour, but for us from Vancouver, being in a Japanese restaurant is a familiar reminder of home. We tried sashimi and pork belly. Fish quality and presentation is delicate and excellent, and the 8-hour cooked porkbelly was so soft and tender, absorbing the Japanese flavours.
Not all the stops we made on the tour was for food. One of the most interesting stops we made on the tour was at Stockholm’s first low-alcohol beer market. Bottl3.5hop is a great example of the unique laws governing Stockholm and how it affects the local small business culture .
In Stockholm, the liquor sales are controlled by a government monopoly. Grocery stores can only sell beverages with under 3.5% ABU, so to comply, Bottl3.5hop was started. It’s a beer boutique, importing low-alcohol beers from Sweden and the rest of Europe (like Estonia, France, and Spain) so they can bypass the strict regulations set out by the govemernt .
What was also surprising to me, is that there is a new trend where it is less popular for the young Swedes to drink, something I respect, admire, and completely relate to.
The last stop we made was probably my favourite…who doesn’t love gelato on a hot summer day!? Stikki Nikki specializes in homemade gelato, made fresh daily.
We were told that Belgian Chocolate is the most popular flavour, which is almost always available at Stikki Nikki. The rest of the flavours change daily, spontaneously decided on each day, depending on what’s in stock, what’s in season, and, well, simply, what they feel like making. We were told they’ve experimented with everything from avocado to pina colada.
In 10 years, Stikki Nikki has expanded to 8 locations — one of which is full vegan. They are moving more towards the dairy-free and vegan trend, not only for trendy and eco-conscious reasons but also because vegan gelato (made without cream) offers a more pure and intense flavour.
At the end of the tour, we each got a cup to get a full sized scoop of our favourite flavour to take on the go — what a great end to a food tour!
As always, I recommend doing food or neighbourhood tours in your first days in the city. So if you try, see, or walk past something you like, you can note down and revisit another time.
Full disclosure: I missed the first two stops on the tour due to my own mix-up of tour times. But I was really pleased at how easily I was able to catch the tour at their third stop. As soon as I saw the text-message reminder that I was missed at the starting point, I got back to the guide right away. They let me know exactly when they would be at their next stop, the time and the address. When I showed up, the guide welcomed me so warmly while the rest of the group filled me in on the two stops we had missed, and the tour continued on with no problem. In short, IF you happen to miss the start of your tour, don’t fret. Food Tours Stockholm has a plan and are really good at directing you to the next stop.
Other tours offered by Food Tours Stockholm includes the Nordic Experience (for trying traditional Swedish fare) and Culinary Old Town.