Eating at the Mall of Scandinavia, Stockholm

The Mall of Scandinavia in the Solna district of Stockholm was officially opened less than a month before we arrived in Stockholm. While it claims to be the largest shopping centre in Scandinavia, I think that claim probably takes into account other spaces in the complex that aren’t shops, like the offices or apartments. I found it mid-sized as far as shopping centres go – probably on par with Westfield Bondi Junction, and definitely smaller than complexes like Chadstone in Melbourne. Still, a brand-new shopping centre is always an experience.

Our Airbnb apartment in Stockholm was only minutes away from the complex, so we did spend a day walking around the complex. It was also particularly convenient for quick meals at the end of the day on our way home after a big day out sightseeing – simply walking into the complex and having an early dinner was definitely a bonus. All in all, we had three meals at eateries in the Mall of Scandinavia – all three of which have branches elsewhere in the city of Stockholm for those who might be interested in trying out their menu!

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Sook

Our first meal was at Sook – a breakfast on our first day in Stockholm after a long afternoon and night when our train from Oslo was delayed and replaced by buses, turning a five hour journey into a thirteen hour ordeal. Understandably, we were more than a little bit shattered the day afterwards, and needed a good breakfast to help wake us up.

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We ordered the Shakshuka Pan (110SEK) and the Manakish Zaatar (70SEK) with a drink each (20SEK each). In hindsight, I wouldn’t have ordered the Manakish Zaatar – what I didn’t realise is that Sook offers free flatbread and manakish to all their customers. You can simply go up to the counter and grab as much as you want. Had I known that, I would have ordered something else (perhaps the falafel plate) rather than wasting 70SEK on ordering something I could get for free. Keep that in mind if you go to Sook – ordering from the Bakery menu won’t be particularly good value!

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At least we enjoyed the Shakshuka Pan of spiced tomato baked eggs with capsicum, eggplant and zucchini. It’s the perfect example of a hot breakfast that can really help to satisfy you after a terrible evening – spicy, tangy and tasty, but still relatively healthy given it’s really just made up of healthy veggies and protein! I’d order this again, or perhaps try something else from their ‘Pan in the Oven’ menu.

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Sook is also located at Kista Galleria and Täby Centrum.

Icha Icha

After our breakfast at Sook, we spent a little while walking around the mall and walked past Icha Icha which immediately caught my attention. Obviously you can tell from the name that it’s Japanese-inspired, but what I liked about their setup was the simplicity in the menu, and the ability to customise your own dish. Basically when you order from Icha Icha, you choose a base (egg noodles, rice or ‘low-carb’ zucchini noodles/zoodles), a topping (chicken, salmon fillet, pork or beef), and a sauce (teriyaki, ginger, spicy sour or red curry). Pricing is based on the protein that you choose and you can add on extra base, extra topping or extra sauce if you’re so inclined.

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What I also liked about Icha Icha’s menu was its focus on healthy options. Not only do you have the low-carb base option, but each of the bases, toppings and sauces have their calorie counts listed next to them. My order of the low-carb zoodles (50kcal) with salmon fillet (250kcal) and spicy sour sauce (100kcal) came to 400 calories, or 1673 kilojoules. K’s order of the noodles (420kcal) with beef (174kcal) and teriyaki sauce (98 kcal) came to 692 calories, or 2895 kilojoules. If you’re watching your weight (as we should be on a holiday where we’ve easily put on a few kilos each!), this kind of thing is really useful to know!

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I highly recommend Icha Icha for those who are a little more health-conscious – it’s a simple but tasty meal (I loved my salmon fillet, and the zoodles as well!), and while it’s a little more expensive than other ‘fast’ food options in Stockholm, you get your money’s worth in healthy eating!

Icha Icha is also located at Kista Galleria and Mood Stockholm.

Max Burger

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Max Burger is Sweden’s answer to McDonalds (I believe there are also branches in Norway and Denmark), offering a similar fast food burger experience, but with noticeably increased quality of ingredients. They’ve been around since the 1960s, but are also based firmly in the modern century with electronic ordering at a kiosk in store rather than at the counter (a phenomenon prevalent in Europe which hasn’t quite penetrated into the Australian market), and developments such as mobile app ordering with pickup at your latest store – a new feature that we saw advertisements for while we were in store.

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One small point which I liked was that their systems seem to be more people-oriented, rather than purely focused on selling their newest products. While McDonald’s ordering system might encourage you to order their new burger, Max’s feature is “Today’s most popular burgers at this store”, telling you what other people are ordering, and what’s hot right now. This is particularly useful for tourists like us! We ended up ordering a Chicken & Bacon Burger meal and a Pepper Jack & Bacon Burger meal.

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The burgers are infinitely superior to McDonalds – you can taste real meat texture in the hamburger patty, and in the case of my chicken burger, it was a real chicken breast in the burger. The fries are superb – extremely crispy and with a strong savoury potato flavour. They also ostensibly offer soft drink refills for 10SEK ($1.64 AUD) but I saw lots of people going up to the drink fountain to refill their drink without paying, so I imagine the suggested extra charge is more of an honour system that many people ignore!

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Fast food isn’t to everyone’s tastes, but I have the firm belief that it has its time and place. We’ve eaten fast food a few times on this trip – one notable time when we’d spent 10 hours driving in the car and all we had energy for was a quick meal at McDonalds before collapsing into bed in our cheap French motel. In Stockholm, K in particular needed a meal at Max Burger after I made him visit the ABBA museum with me – something quick, cheap, tasty, easy and satisfying was all he had energy for!

For a full list of Max Burger locations, visit their website.

There you have it – three different Stockholm-based casual eateries offering everything from Middle Eastern food, to fast food burgers, to healthy choices. All three can be found in the newly-opened Mall of Scandinavia in Solna, but can also be found in other locations around Stockholm. Casual eating has its place in expensive Stockholm as the average traveller definitely can’t afford fancy meals out every day in this expensive city!

Mall of Scandinavia is located at 2 Stjärntorget, Solna, Stockholm.

Review: Gamla Brogatan and a Day in Malmo, Sweden

Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this post.

While we were in Copenhagen, K and I did a daytrip to Malmo in Sweden on the train. While the trip theoretically takes only half an hour, it took a bit longer to get into Sweden as the border guards were rather zealous in stopping the train and racially profiling people to pull them off for interrogation. While I was uncomfortable with the way guards were targeting particular individuals, I was also too afraid to speak up. I keep thinking now about how I could have done things differently, to speak up against the prejudice of the guards. I’m disappointed in myself and my inaction.

We spent a lot of time in the large Kingsgarden public park to the west of the city centre, wandering on the green paths, watching the ducks in the pond, and just taking in a bit of nature. It’s a beautiful way to enjoy the attractions of Malmo, which is otherwise just a mid-sized Scandinavian city with the same shops in the commercial centre and the same kind of old churches and architecture. There were a handful of more interesting small Scandinavian design shops, but it’s hard to enjoy them when you’re not doing any shopping on the trip!

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Still, we did enjoy the restaurant I had picked out for lunch, Gamla Brogatan. We picked this restaurant based on the fact that 1) It was rated pretty highly on TripAdvisor; 2) The regular menu was quite pricey which generally indicates a certain standard of service and food; 3) They offered a pretty reasonable weekly lunch special which made dining there more affordable. This method of choosing a place to dine hasn’t failed us yet!

Gamla Brogatan is quite centrally located, in one of the streets running parallel to the main pedestrian shopping mall. At the same time, it was quiet on the day that we dined there, which I think indicates its status as a restaurant that locals dine at for dinner, rather than one where tourists dine for lunch. My theory was supported by the fact that amongst our fellow diners were a few groups of older ‘ladies who lunch’ and a few business people holding lunch meetings – all clearly locals.

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We started with a drink each, included in the weekly lunch special menu. With a choice of a still or sparkling water or a low-alcoholic beer, I chose a bottle of sparkling. What I’ve found interesting about a lot of the glass bottles we’ve seen in Europe is that they tend to be a bit rougher and marked around the neck, which indicates that they’ve been recycled many times before. It’s great to see a visible reminder of how recycling and environmentally-friendly practices can make a difference.

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Also included in the weekly lunch special menu is an unlimited supply of salad (essentially just a lettuce mix, chickpeas, and an interesting preserved fruit paste), and their home-made bread. While the salad was a bit boring without even the hint of a dressing, the home-made bread was absolutely more-ish with a crunchy crust but super doughy centre. It was deceptively dense as well, and very delicious dipped in a little bit of olive oil. We asked the waiter how they made the bread, and all he said was “I can’t tell you, because the chef won’t tell anyone his recipe!”

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The lunch special that I chose was the Smoked Salmon with Caramelised Carrots. The salmon was absolutely incredible – I had expected the thinly sliced fatty and oily smoked salmon that I’m accustomed to getting in Australian supermarkets, and certainly hadn’t expected the two firm and plump fillets of salmon served to me. Dipped in a little bit of the horseradish cream, it was simply delectable. Smoked salmon in Scandinavia – it can’t be beat!

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K chose the lunch special of the Rib-Eye Steak with Roast Vegetables, served with two generous dollops of garlic butter on either side. Interestingly, while the waiter didn’t ask how K wanted the steak cooked, it still came out cooked to medium as he likes it – I expect that steaks cooked to medium is just a standard in the restaurant. The chef might rebel if someone asked for a well-done steak! I particularly liked the roast potatoes on his plate with their crispy skins, very nice especially when dipped into the garlic butter.

All in all, Gamla Brogatan was an excellent choice for lunch in Malmo. Their weekly lunch specials make an excellent meal very affordable (our final bill was about $45AUD), and it’s certainly central to the main attractions of the town.

Malmo itself is worth the day trip from Copenhagen – it takes hardly any time to get there, and it’s nice to have a quick taster for what Sweden is like, from a design, nature, food perspective. As I mentioned earlier though, my main regret is not standing up for those being targeted for the colour of their skin – if you find yourself in the same situation, I hope that you will be braver than I and be willing to stand up for others.

Gamla Brogatan is located at 12 Brogatan, Malmo.