The last time there was a Scandinavian restaurant in Singapore was 27 years ago, when Vikings in Paragon mall closed in 1990 after three years.
But fans of the seafood-centric cuisine will once again be able to indulge in pickled herring and smoked halibut.
Two weeks ago, Mr Frank Naesheim, who was a partner of Vikings, opened Fisk Seafoodbar & Market, serving Norwegian food, at the new Novotel hotel in Stevens Road.
For the last 30 years, he has also been running Snorre Food, which supplies Norwegian and other coldwater seafood to hotels and restaurants here. So opening a Norwegian restaurant seems a no-brainer as he already has a ready supply of produce.
Unlike Chinese restaurants, which emphasise live seafood, Fisk - which is Norwegian for fish - uses mostly the frozen variety, with only some live shellfish in tanks. But technology is so advanced these days that quality is often not compromised during the freezing, lending credence to the phrase "frozen is the new fresh".
An exception, however, are the Greenland prawns which are cooked and frozen with their shell on. The freezing makes them lose their succulence.
But they are sweet and dishes such as Skagen ($12.50), a prawn cocktail from the lunch menu, suffer little loss. Dressed with sour cream and mayonnaise and topped with fish roe and dill, the prawns are delicious and it is easy to overlook their slightly chewy texture.
The King Crab ($38) charms with even less effort. The frozen cooked crab legs, thawed and sliced down the middle, are served with lemon and mayonnaise with dill. They are the sweetest frozen crabs I've eaten, quite unlike the briny ones you get at buffet spreads.
The hot dishes require more kitchen skills and they do not disappoint either.
While lunch offers a small menu of light and simple dishes, the dinner menu is bigger and divided into bar bites, starters, mains and desserts.
Most of the dishes are good for sharing. For the soups, the kitchen thoughtfully splits them into separate bowls if you tell the server you're sharing.
Bar bites are little snacks that are good to kick off the meal with.
Fried Herring ($3.50 for two pieces) are delightfully crispy puffs of sourdough batter filled with pickled herring and topped with sour cream and dill powder. I'm not a fan of pickled fish, but the combination of flavours in this dish ensures that any fishiness is kept to a minimum.
Salmon Skin ($3 for two pieces) is good too, with the crispy piece of deep-fried skin topped with smoked mayonnaise and trout roe. But it is not as crispy as the salmon skin served in Chinese restaurants.
Langoustine ($29) is an excellent starter, with the succulent shellfish's sweetness perfectly matched with smoked bone marrow, confit of swede (a root vegetable) and bits of deep-fried kale. There is only one small piece on the plate though and the price makes me think twice about making a second order.
Instead, I pick the Atlantic Cod ($32) from the mains, which turns out to be my favourite dish.
Two pieces of cod are wrapped, together with a small piece of foie gras and oyster mushroom, in napa cabbage and steamed, then served in smoked salmon broth. The dish feels light but is not bland, with the foie gras adding just a hint of richness that does not compete with the fish.
If you feel like splurging, order the Roasted And Glazed Fresh Lobster ($150 for two persons). The lobster is spliced in two and roasted with spices, together with Greenland prawns. A plate of celeriac, in pieces and pureed, together with slices of green apple, comes with the dish.
The lobster is meaty and tasty with spices, but the prawns, I feel, are a distraction. Cooked twice, they become dry and their more delicate sweetness is drowned by the spices.
The dessert to check out is the Uni Ice Cream ($16), which has a bit of sea urchin buried under a scoop of milky ice cream. There isn't much uni flavour, but I enjoy it for the mix of textures from oat crackers, hawthorn berries and nori seaweed.
The restaurant has an adjoining market where you can buy raw seafood and Norwegian groceries. All supplied by Snorre, of course.
But you have to do your shopping before dinner because it closes at 7pm.
This article was first published at Straits Times.
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