Who said Swedish chefs are the best interpreters of Swedish ingredients?
Claim to fame Four bearded dudes and one chick hitting it off in the kitchen
Reason to go Progressive, delicious and affordable enough to warrant repeat visits
To look out for The recurring use of Japanese tea, complementing the Nordic ingredients, both on the plate and in the cup
Your greatest challenge might be finding this place; its miniscule sign and curtained windows make it look like a private bridge club, hidden in the heart of hipsterized Södermalm. ICHI came about when Chef Saori Ichihara made a guest appearance in Barobao’s kitchen, an Asian restaurant just around the corner, owned by four bearded gents who immediately realized that they needed to open another eatery with Ichihara. The enthusiastic quintet designed the slick space together, giving nod to Japanese esthetic. Green and black dominate the interiors, elegant wood details add warmth, surreal Peruvian marble tabletops are celadon-colored exclamation marks against the sandstone flooring. Pick a table in the dining room, get cozy in one of the eight-seat booths, or go for the counter, with prime views of the kitchen. After dinner, linger over Japanese whisky or shochu, infusions, coffee and sweets in the miniature lounge.
The five-course menu, plus the hors d’œuvre-bento box is a continuous, thoughtful play with Nordic produce seen through the chef’s Japanese eyes. Shiso, yuzo, koji, kombu and soba support and complement the seasonal, mostly Nordic main ingredients.
The slightly burned flavors of a grilled salad are tempered with enriching koji, grated egg yolk and salted rhubarb. A cube of bread, based on sourdough from 1991 and Swedish heirloom grains, is grilled, brushed with soy glaze, and baked with sesame oil, offering deep, butterscotch-like flavors. The turbot from southern Norway is cured in kombu, served with smoked belly, crunchy, whole heirloom wheat grains and salted lemon. A retired milk cow from Galicia, aged 35 days, is barbecued on one side only and accompanied by perky lovage, cured lemon, as well as potatoes three ways; mashed, poached and slivered into chips.
The precise beverage pairings include tea, beer, sake and wine. Matcha and hojicha tea, junmai ginjo, red akai sake and sweet daiginjo plum wine are lined up with Mosel Rieslings, and refreshing, light red wine from the Loire Valley.
Each dish is meticulously plated and presented on a unique selection of vintage porcelain, crystal and ceramics that the chef has collected on her many trips back home to Osaka. Likewise, the silverware and various eating utensils have been sourced with utmost care.