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This food may not be local, but it sure is good

The Local · 7 Oct 2011, 14:24

Published: 07 Oct 2011 14:24 GMT+02:00

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For many people, one of the highlights of traveling is trying the local cuisine.

Local ingredients, secret recipes passed down from generation to generation as well as the sounds, sights and smells of your destination make native dishes tough to replicate.

Many of us don't even try.

Even if you could get your hands on real kaffir lime leaves, your Beef Panang will not evoke the same euphoria that it did in Phuket if you are enjoying it while watching the snow fall in Stockholm.

That being said, there is another group of us who aren't from here, and in order to survive homesickness and the overload of meat+potato+brown sauce combinations we are committed to the never ending search for dishes that taste like home.

For some of us searching for a taste of home is a fun challenge and for others it is a must to survive.

Fortunately, Swedes have traditionally been very open to foreign influences and there is most likely a restaurant, or two, that represents your homeland.

Keep in mind that not all local cuisine is created equally.

Access to certain ethnic foodstuffs which are deemed critical to home cooking can be a challenge not only for our individual needs, but also for restauranteurs.

To make things a little more complicated, before being introduced in Sweden many of the foodstuffs have been altered to be more appealing to the Swedish palate and our "home cooked meal away from home" naturally suffers because of it.

Below are just a few restaurants that have exceptional authentic cuisine.

There are certainly many more out there and if you have a few favorites let me know. I would love to try them.

Tex-Mex: La Neta

This place isn't fancy, but authentic taco joints don't need to be. La Neta concentrates on three to four different types of tacos/quesadillas (25kr-45kr/piece) and does them well, very well. They make no compromises and, true to form, serve only mexican beer.

I proudly give them my seal of approval and would even dare to bring my dad here. The real nostalgia hit me when I noticed their salsa bar - mild, medium and hot at no extra charge - just like home.

Ethiopian: Ethiostar

I admit this restaurant looks suspect from the outside, (OK it looks suspect from the inside as well) but rest assured, great food awaits! Our first time here we were more than slightly intimidated.

Our waiter was used to a table full of newcomers and he quickly navigated us around the menu. My favorite item is the mixed plate which includes small portions of their most famous lamb, chicken, beef and vegetable stews. All main dishes are served with obligatory Ingera which helps in the absence of silverware.

Yes, Ethiopian food is eaten with your hands.

Don't even try to ask for silverware, they don't have it. These dishes are geared to Ethiopian tastes and are quite spicy but that only means you have to try one of the numerous African beers on their menu to cool off. The entire experience is much more fun with a group of friends and the large restaurant can easily accommodate groups. If you are feeling really adventurous stay for the disco on Fri/Sat night.

Japanese/Sushi: Sushi Zen

Many people who have traveled outside of Sweden often reflect on the fact that Swedish sushi is boring. I totally agree. The only thing worse than ordering 10-bitar lax is replacing half of them with 5-bitar avocado.

If you are going to eat sushi, then eat sushi and stop contributing to the lack of creativity. I do agree that good, fresh fish should speak for itself. I am not asking for a smorgasbord wrapped in seaweed (Try Sushi Samba's Yamato: tuna, foie gras, oestra caviar and gold leaf) but I do think that there is a middle-ground and that Sushi Zen is just the place.

Sushi Zen may be tough to find, but once you follow the steps down to the underground restaurant chef Fujio and his family will make you feel like home. Their sushi isn't complicated but they have a wide selection of fish and it is always fresh. The sashimi special for lunch can't be beat.

Story continues below…

Pizza: Pizzeria Hatt

This restaurant is not on my list because it serves the most authentic Italian pizza. (I still haven't found that yet.) It is on my list because it serves really good pizza, with quality, fresh ingredients and you will never find a kebab pizza on their menu.

This bare bones restaurant, located at Upplandsgatan 9 in central Stockholm, has only 3 tables inside but the pick-up line consistantly streches to the sidewalk outside. The first time I tried to eat here it was unexpectedly closed with a sign on the door that read, "Closed - we ran out of cheese."

Finding replacement cheese to keep your pizzeria running is not difficult. However, a restaurant that chooses to close rather than compromise quality has my heart...and my stomach.

Korean: Arirang

I haven't been to Arirang yet but I plan to try it very soon. Enough people have recommended it to me so that I felt obligated to add it to my list. They have traditional Korean BBQ as well as Bibimbap.


The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

00:37 October 8, 2011 by umutth
I like the Indian restaurant Gandhi on Katarina Bangatan in Södermalm.
16:21 October 8, 2011 by Decedo
'May no bet local'? Dyslexic Swedes writing in English, hehe
21:48 October 8, 2011 by DAVID T
Didn't this dunce say she was unemployed on her last load of drivel - how does she afford to eat at these places?
12:31 October 9, 2011 by planet.sweden
"This food may no bet local..,"

The standard of grammar and spelling at The Local is truly tragic.
13:42 October 9, 2011 by jb2lk
"La Neta

This place isn't fancy, but authentic taco joints"

I stopped reading there. La Neta is NOT authentic. It's not even good, just OK. Maybe worth it if it wasnt so overpriced.
17:27 October 9, 2011 by skogsbo
I was still waiting for her to tell us which of the cafes in here last article actually had free WiFi. Gwen is clearly a US girlfriend of one of the US local editors, how else could they justify web space to another boring and incorrect article, did she research it via the restuarants websites?
22:10 October 9, 2011 by Heebz
The local should employ me as their proof reader. I know this isn't a major news site, but the level of writing on here is a cause for concern.
23:30 October 9, 2011 by Opinionfool
"Meat potato and brown sauce". Not a description of any Swedish cuisine I've eaten. Where's the fish? Where's the ren? Where's ... well you get the idea.

With the exception of the French and a few others, each country derides its own cuisine and favors those of neighbors or exotic places. The English are probably the worst of this attitude to their national dishes. I expected more from Swedes.
07:51 October 10, 2011 by skogsbo
hey hey Opinionfool, don't live up to your name, I remain a firm fan of decent sausage, yorkshire puddings and any stogy pudding served with hot custard :) Traditional British dishes are great, but folk always want the greener grass; the Italian / Chinese or Indian cuisine. Shall I go on, Beef Wellington, back bacon, steak & ale pie, real ale, any of the mature British Cheeses.. there is danger I will start craving this stuff, so I'll move my thoughts back to the massive range of Swedish stuff that doesn't involve brown sauce!
10:22 October 10, 2011 by Cosme Fulanito
Tex Mex? Should take back the "Tax" is almost offensive
11:29 October 10, 2011 by RobinHood
Good job Gwen. David T, there's a line between constructive criticism and pointless rudeness.

I'm sorry to say it, but I can't walk past a Pong's Thai buffet without ending up 200 crowns lighter and one kilo heavier. As many steaming dumplings as I can cram on a plate, on top of all the other traditional Thai buffet stuff piled up round the edges. It's not a pretty sight. Rather like a particularly messy road accident, but it tastes good and there's plenty of it.

As a Thai buffet fan, I'm open to suggested alternatives for my bi-monthly trips to Stockholm.
12:01 October 10, 2011 by nyag
I don't know about you guys, but I think the Thai and Indian restuarants here are cooking what the Swedes think is "thai or indian" food. I mean I have tasted real thai food in Thailand and India and what these people throw on a plate and serve u is NOT authentic meal... as a matter of fact its no where near the so called dish...

I think the Swedes have a very poor taste pallet that's why all these resturants are making big money...............
17:30 October 10, 2011 by Opinionfool

I disagree. David T is absolutely right to highlight the incongruity between the two latest reports supposedly written by this Gwen Ramsey. Either she is unemployed but looking for work so one questions how can she afford to eat in all the places (cafes as they were last week or restaurants this week) or she is not unemployed at all in which case she can frequent these supposedly high-class restaurants but does so in the role of food critic.

But as skogsbo says there is much much more to indigenous Swedish cuisine than meat+potatoes+brown-sauce. One of the recipe books I treasure and use often is "The Best of Swedish Cooking" (LTs Förlag 1983) not one of the recipes therein is for meat+potato+brown-sauce. Now had the accusation been that Swedish cuisine was all about herring-and-potato there might be some credence to it. This "Gwen Ramsey"'s portrayal of Swedish cooking is nothing but a parody.
08:48 October 11, 2011 by RobinHood

You disagree with me that there's a line between constructive criticism and pointless rudeness.

I certainly would not call you a dunce for thinking that load of drivel. That would be pointlessly rude of me.
19:36 October 11, 2011 by Opinionfool

Nah, I disagreed with you that David T was even being rude. Political correctness has reached the point where any criticism, no matter how mild, is considered offensive. If there is any pointlessness around here it is the recent series of articles with the Gwen Ramsey by-line. Recommending expensive coffee shops for the unemployed to watch strangers in; and representing Swedish cuisine as only having one type of food. Maybe my expectations of journalistic standards are higher.
20:57 October 11, 2011 by spy
I hope they didn't pay this person to write this article. It badly written and utter drivel.
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