my sweetheart and i celebrated our one-year anniversary last saturday. because of finnish eurovision finals, which holds a special place in our hearts, not only because some of our first dates were heavily eurovision infested, but also because of our love of camp, we had to dine early. my duty was to find a place where being seated in a half empty restaurant would feel intimate enough for the big date.
one of my favorite restaurants in helsinki is raku ya. the place has cosy booths for parties up to 6 people in addition to traditional seating. an izakaya style japanese restaurant, they serve amazing sushi in addition to delicious dishes for sharing and socializing. their new chef comes from the kitchens of nobu restaurants, a chain of world class japanese cuisine. nobu's legendary new york flagship is an establishment everyone who loves sushi should eat at least once in their lifetime. (as a tip, try to walk in slightly before dinner servings and you might get lucky. otherwise, book months earlier for reservations. nobu next door is slightly easier, but despite their claim on the website, not exactly something you can just pop into. worth a try, definitely -- especially if you've got scandinavian good looks. yes, the place is very much "to see and to be seen" and strangely they're genuinely preoccupied with looks...)
at raku ya, the sushi is always recommendable, but you can build a whole delicious meal without a grain of rice in sight. my favorites are their broccoli salada and tofu salada, their fish du jour is always excellent and i could gnaw on the edamame endlessly. moreover, the staff is worth listening to: their recommendations are often spot on. for the quality of the food, the pricing is extremely moderate and there's plenty to share in their hefty portions. we left extremely satisfied.
i've managed to get seated without a reservation off peak without a hassle -- if a spur of the moment desire for sushi overcomes me.