Kamai Japanese & Peruvian Flavors with a Nordic Style

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Kamai is a new Japanese & Peruvian restaurant with a Nordic style to the food. It is located in Korsgata in the southern part of Grünerløkka, in the old venue of Kolonihagen. The café facing the street offers bao and sushi to eat or take away. The actual restaurant of Kamai is in the backyard. The fusion of Japanese and Peruvian food is called Nikkei. According to the restaurant, they are not limiting themselves to this style, however, and with the Nordic twist, it certainly isn’t classic Nikkei food.

Restaurant on the left, café and takeaway on the right
Restaurant on the left, café and takeaway on the right

By chance, I noticed the café of Kamai on their first day of opening. It happened to be just around the corner from another favorite hangout of mine: Territoriet. We went inside to check the menu, which featured sushi, baos, and something called pizza salads. Fortunately, the latter has later been removed from the menu.

Kamai Sushi & Bao

Kamai is actually the latest installment of Jonathan sushi, but they chose a new name to reflect a different concept. I haven’t tested the sushi yet, but it should be decent quality considering who runs the shop. We tested the baos and they were great! I would say they are second only to Hitchhiker and Pjoltergeist in Oslo.

Kamai Sushi & Bao is the café at the front
Kamai Sushi & Bao is the café at the front
Fried bao with caramelized pulled pork belly, Japanese mayo, pickled cucumbers and daikon on the left. Bao with crispy, fried chicken, chili, coleslaw and wasabi cream on the right
Fried bao with caramelized pulled pork belly, Japanese mayo, pickled cucumbers and daikon on the left. Bao with crispy, fried chicken, chili, coleslaw and wasabi cream on the right
Kamai in Korsgate, where Kolonihagen Grünerløkka used to be located
Kamai in Korsgate, where Kolonihagen Grünerløkka used to be located
Bao with crispy, fried chicken, chili, coleslaw and wasabi cream. The chicken is so crunchy, and together with a creamy salad and a soft bun it's a mouth watering experience.
Bao with crispy, fried chicken, chili, coleslaw and wasabi cream. The chicken is so crunchy, and together with a creamy salad and a soft bun it’s a mouth watering experience.
Bao with tofu
Bao with tofu

Kamai Restaurant

Less than a week after Kamai café opened, I bumped into Christer Magnusson at Torggata Botaniske. He was the former bar manager of Piscoteket and told me he was now general manager of Kamai. Furthermore, he could reveal that the restaurant was opening shortly in the backyard. Christer was surprised that people had already discovered the bao shop since they had done no marketing thus far. I got an invitation to a test night of the restaurant the following week.

Enter through the gate to the backyard to find the restaurant
Enter through the gate to the backyard to find the restaurant
Beautiful interior design work
Beautiful interior design work
Head chef Halvor Woll Sørlie
Head chef Halvor Woll Sørlie

Halvor Woll Sørlie, the former sous chef at Aymara, is head chef of Kamai. He is an exceptionally skilled chef, which impressed me a lot the first time I tasted his cooking. Andre Berberan, who some might remember as the awesome bartender at Bon Lio, is bar manager and head sommelier. A fantastic character, a great guy and extremely knowledgeable about wines as well as cocktails. You should check out the recipes he shared with my friends over at Rosemary & the Deerhunters.

Our sommelier Andre, formerly bartender at Bon Lio
Our sommelier Andre, formerly bartender at Bon Lio
Ready for a kaiseki at Kamai
Ready for a kaiseki at Kamai
Smoked "Nyr" fresh cheese, trout roe, rye crisp, black sesame and chives. A small teaser to start the meal. Nyr is such a useful ingredient, and smoke just adds to its flavor.
Smoked “Nyr” fresh cheese, trout roe, rye crisp, black sesame and chives. A small teaser to start the meal. Nyr is such a useful ingredient, and smoke just adds to its flavor.

The menu gives you three options. The 4-course Eat & Njoy at NOK 395, the full Kaiseki Menu to get the proper Kamai experience at NOK 715, and à la carte dishes priced between NOK 95 and NOK 149. We had the Kaiseki menu, which is a Japanese term for a multi-course haute-cuisine meal, where each dish is small and artistic. If you go for the more reasonable menu you get a selection from the big one, and the à la carte is basically a free choice from the Kaiseki menu.

The interior has been freshened up, and looks way better than Kolonihagen Grünerløkka
The interior has been freshened up, and looks way better than Kolonihagen Grünerløkka
Kimchi popcorn. I would have liked these with more kick from the kimchi, and if possible warmer.
Kimchi popcorn. I would have liked these with more kick from the kimchi, and if possible warmer.

The food at Kamai was almost too perfect. Each dish was so balanced in textures and flavors. Fat and acidity, salt and sweet, crispy and soft. To the extent that it became almost predictable. I missed a dish or two in between that was simpler and more playful, like the meal I had at restaurant Taller. We shared our opinions with the chef, and Halvor told us that he’s looking forward to being even more creative as he settles in his role and the new kitchen. Kamai is a restaurant I’m excited to return to.

Smoked haddock with fennel "soil", pickled fennel, fried halibut skin and avruga caviar. Make sure you eat all the elements together. Alone they are not that exciting, but united they'll tickle all your taste buds.
Smoked haddock with fennel “soil”, pickled fennel, fried halibut skin and avruga caviar. Make sure you eat all the elements together. Alone they are not that exciting, but united they’ll tickle all your taste buds.
Softshell crab with apples, homemade teriyaki and black sesame. Tasty, but I would have like the crab even more crunchy.
Softshell crab with apples, homemade teriyaki and black sesame. Tasty, but I would have like the crab even more crunchy.
Beef tartare of ox heart with togarashi, pickled shitake mushrooms and unagi mayo. Togarashi is a Japanese chili. Unagi is a reduction of eel broth, rice wine, soy sauce and sugar. A wonderful dish with the most tender ox heart you can imagine! I just found the presentation a bit dull.
Beef tartare of ox heart with togarashi, pickled shitake mushrooms, and unagi mayo. Togarashi is a Japanese chili. Unagi is a reduction of eel broth, rice wine, soy sauce and sugar. A wonderful dish with the most tender ox heart you can imagine! I just found the presentation a bit dull.
Josper grilled cod with burnt carrots and a homemade dashi. Dashi is a Japanese cooking stock. Umami explotion!
Josper grilled cod with burnt carrots and a homemade dashi. Dashi is a Japanese cooking stock. Umami explotion!
A palate cleanser before the main dish
A palate cleanser before the main dish
Braised pork cheeks with burnt cabbage and onion cream
Braised pork cheeks with burnt cabbage and onion cream
Shochikubai Shirakabegura Mio Sparkling Sake
Shochikubai Shirakabegura Mio Sparkling Sake
White soy curd with yuzu granita, exotic fruits and chocolate "soil". A great dessert and quite spicy! I only wished it had more of the creamy curd.
White soy curd with yuzu granita, exotic fruits and chocolate “soil”. A great dessert and quite spicy! I only wished it had more of the creamy curd.
The coffee is brewed in these beautiful French presses, inherited from Kolonihagen
The coffee is brewed in these beautiful French presses, inherited from Kolonihagen

Minibar

The restaurant at Kamai actually consists of four parts. The dining hall and a Chambre Séparée upstairs, and a big table and the minibar downstairs. The bar is to the right as you enter. You can go there for a drink without dining in the restaurant. It is a beautiful bar, which I can imagine will have a nice vibe to it once people start using this place.

Bartender essentials
Bartender essentials
Some secret premade batch
Some secret premade batch
A Kamai style Old Fashioned
A Kamai style Old Fashioned
Bitters on silver tray
Bitters on silver tray
Andre behind the bar
Andre behind the bar

Have you been to Kamai yet? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below.

Lagre

Disclaimer

This was a sponsored invitation by Kamai. The restaurant had no influence on the content of this article, there is no form of cooperation between us, I was not obliged to publish anything, and I received no monetary payment.

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