Although our official home base now is Copenhagen, Oslo will always have a special place in our hearts. (It’s where we met, after all!) We visit Norway’s capital frequently to keep up with the ever-evolving food scene, and have been absolutely thrilled to watch it boom after the pandemic. On a recent trip this winter, restaurant Hedone (which opened in September 2022) was high on our to-visit list. The former Bokbacka space has been taken over by chef Mads Revheim-Skjolden (formerly Palace Grill, Rest) and restaurateur James Maxwell-Stewart (owner of Cru, Ludo, Coucou). Although Hedone is a new addition to the city, these guys are no strangers to the food scene. We expected good things, but we were absolutely blown away! Revheim-Skjolden’s tasting menu delivered banger after banger of delicious dishes, and Maxwell-Stewart’s service was attentive and friendly. Our meal at Hedone was the biggest surprise of our trip. If you’re a flavor seeker, book a table now – this is one of the best meals money can buy in Oslo right now.
Looking for more great spots for food and drinks in Norway’s capital? Check out our city map of Oslo!
The Hottest Chef’s Counter in Oslo
The name Hedone stems from “hedonism,” a constant quest for pleasure and satisfaction. The concept of the restaurant is modern Asian; the flavors are inspired by Thailand and Japan, and the ingredients are sourced locally and seasonally in Norway. It was a very original menu in terms of flavor, with some dishes unlike any we’ve ever eaten before. There is a nine-course “omakase”, a weekly three-course menu, as well as à la carte dishes available. We chose the omakase (1395 NOK), since it has some dishes that aren’t on the à la carte menu, and we wanted to try as much as possible. If you go à la carte, then you get slightly bigger servings than the portions on the tasting menu; individual prices range from 200-350 NOK. Whether you want to go all-in on the menu, or you just want to drop in for a couple dishes and a glass of wine, Hedone’s got you covered.
We sat at the kitchen counter which was really fun – lots of the action was happening right in front of us, and we loved chatting with chef Revheim-Skjolden while he doused milk bun after milk bun with more butter. There was a fun playlist, a good vibe, and a buzzing energy in the space. The wine list leans classical, but there are a few natural producers on the list including Heinrich, Occhipinti, Tissot, and Meinklang.
A Modern Asian-Inspired Tasting Menu
But enough about all that – let’s talk food! Hedone says their omakase is a nine-course menu, but technically there are twelve servings if you count all the little snacks. The meal kicked off with a bowl of furikake popcorn, which sits on your table throughout the whole meal. (Furikake is a dry seasoning made with sesame seeds, seaweeds, herbs, fish flakes, and salt.) Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of either popcorn or seaweed, so I didn’t love this. Anders also felt that the flavor wasn’t strong enough; it pretty much just tasted of regular popcorn with a hint of seaweed. This was the weakest serving of the night, and felt a bit out of place on an otherwise flawless menu. We didn’t waste much stomach space on this snack.
But the next bite took us straight to flavor town: a rice cake made of fried Japanese sushi rice, topped with sesame mayo, pickled chilis, and coriander. This bite had nice texture contrasts (chewy and crispy, like tapioca), and a good amount of heat. Following shortly after, was a piece of raw hamachi, brushed with white soy and Japanese wasabi. This was a tasty serving, although it was a little challenging to pick up the slice of fish from the deep bowl that it was served in.
Then, we arrived at the part of the menu where we could eat every dish again and again. Blue fin tuna sashimi was the next course; aged toro (tuna belly) was brushed with sake and fermented soy sauce, and topped with shiso leaves. This bite was so buttery that it practically dissolved on the tongue, which Revheim-Skjolden explained was because of the aging process. This was a memorable mouthful, but it was also a little hard to pick up since it was so fatty – it fell apart a bit on the chopsticks.
Another serious highlight came next: Norwegian stone crab (steamed, pulled apart, and marinated), served with shallots (deep-fried and marinated), cashews, Thai basil, and a Thai-inspired coconut sauce. We instantly wanted more of this dish. It had just the right amount of heat that we were craving on a cold snowy day, and the temperature and spices warmed us up from within. The sauce is incredibly aromatic – we could have slurped it with a straw.
One of the Best Dishes of the Year
Our favorite dish of the night was the Norwegian mink whale, cooked on a searing hot grill, tataki-style. Hiding underneath the tender meat: a red curry emulsion, baked garlic cream, spring onion, and brown butter soy sauce. Who knew whale could be so good?! It was so meaty, and so tender, and we were very close to ordering a second serving. It’s absolutely amazing how the chefs have handled this ingredient, yet it’s the sauce underneath that steals the show. It had a quality that reminded us of the sauce on our favorite cheeseburger, the Emmy burger: Asian with a spicy kick, but also buttery, umami heaven. (Hedone’s mink whale made it onto our Top 25 Dishes of 2022 – click to find out where it ranked.) Our only critique of this dish would be that the presentation doesn’t do justice to how insanely flavorful it was.
Revheim-Skjolden explained that even though some people have an aversion to eating whale, this is actually one of his most sustainable courses. The mink whale is not an endangered species and the population actually has to be controlled, so the whales don’t eat too much fish. Sadly, not enough people eat whale meat, which means a lot of it goes to waste. This is a shame, because it’s such an underrated ingredient in the hands of a good chef.
More Butter, Please
The Japanese milk buns arrived in front of us next, brushed and basted repeatedly in brown butter, and served with black kosho butter (made with yuzu and sancho pepper). The buns had a lovely sweetness and a perfect amount of salt. They were extremely fluffy, served warm from the oven. They were originally paired with the langoustine course, but we had to order one more round of these later in our meal. We needed more buns to soak up the other incredible sauces Revheim-Skjolden was serving!
Finally, it was time for the langoustine course – the reason we opted for the tasting menu. And, oh boy, it is not to be missed. Yeah, yeah, yeah, in Scandinavia we are outright spoiled when it comes to Norwegian langoustine. It’s an absolutely legendary ingredient, often served at the best restaurants in town. (It’s hard not to eat langoustine when dining out at the top spots in Oslo!) And as amazing as langoustine can be, it can also be a bit boring to have the same dish over and over at restaurants around the city. Well, this was a langoustine serving that stood out from the crowd, a langoustine serving to rule them all. That gorgeous tail is served with langoustine butter, togarashi (Japanese chili powder), panko, brown butter, and a house-made XO sauce with scallop and ginger. Another unforgettable course! Great textures and flavors, with crunch, heat, and a whole lot of butter. Dirty and downright delicious.
The last seafood dish was the monkfish tail, served with a dashi mayo, spinach, buckwheat, bonito, and miso butter sauce. You guessed it, it’s another killer sauce. (This is when we ordered the extra bread rolls.) The monkfish here was expertly cooked, straddling that line between raw and perfectly tender. I’m not a big fan of bonito (dried fish flakes), and that element made this dish slightly fishier in flavor, but we absolutely loved the monkfish and the accompanying sauce.
Before the main course, there was a small palate cleanser of yuzu sorbet, served swimming in a shot of yuzu sake. Citrusy and refreshing!
A Strong Finish to a Practically Flawless Meal
We took one more trip back to butter town for the evening, to indulge in a decadent serving of Iberico Secreto. The Iberico pork was marinated and grilled on a habachi grill, and plated with salt-brined turnips (marinated with chili, ginger, and lemongrass), bok choy, Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese vinaigrette), and a sauce of beef stock, soy, and brown sugar. If you had blindfolded me while I ate the meat, I might have thought that I was eating wagyu, because the pork was so marbled and fatty. This rich dish will certainly push you over the edge into full and complete saturation, and satisfaction.
To finish the meal, Hedone served slightly lighter fare: a tart passionfruit sorbet, with caramel-covered peanuts, white chocolate black sesame cream, and a deep-fried rice cracker dusted with pandan sugar. This was a playful and fun finish to the meal, with fresh and nutty flavors.
All in all, if you’re a pleasure-seeking hedonist, we highly recommend a trip to Hedone. What a welcome addition to the Oslo food scene – this tasting menu absolutely smashed our taste buds in the best possible way. The menu changes seasonally, but with Revheim-Skjolden holding the reins, you can expect buttery dish after buttery dish that will leave you licking the plate and begging for more.
Have you been to Hedone? Let us know in a comment below.