Xích Lô Asian Bakery & Tapas Vietnamese, French & Nordic Flavors by a Pastry Master

Vikaterrassen in Oslo is undergoing a major upgrade. Old restaurants and eateries have moved out, and new concepts are appearing throughout autumn and winter 2016/2017. Pierre Xavier Chinniah was the first to open with Xích Lô Asian Bakery & Tapas in late September, but you know that already if you read my news section for restaurant rumors and newly opened restaurants. This is a joint venture between Chinniah and Xích Lô, who already have a Vietnamese restaurant at Egertorget and an Asian tapas restaurant in Mathallen. Xích Lô is Vietnamese, from the French word cyclo and means bicycle rickshaw – hence the logo.

Head chef and baker Pierre Xavier Chinniah
Head chef and baker Pierre Xavier Chinniah

Norway’s most experienced pastry chef

French-Canadian Pierre has a an impressive background. He’s formally trained as both chocolatier and pâtissier, has been the coach of the Norwegian confectioners’ team, worked as head of pastry at multiple one and two Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris and later in Norway. Lastly, he’s been head of product development at several of the largest bakeries in this country. Dare I call him the most experienced baker and confectioner in this country? I guess I just did.

Xích Lô Asian Bakery & Tapas
Xích Lô Asian Bakery & Tapas

Bakery by day – tapas bar by night

You need to visit Xích Lô Asian Bakery & Tapas at Vikaterrassen for three reasons: the Asian-French fusion baked goods during the day, the Bánh mì sandwich, and the evening tapas menu. The latter is a mix of Vietnamese flavors and Nordic and French ingredients, which is quite unique. Pierre himself is almost a reflection of all these cuisines: his mother was French, his father was Tamil and he has lived in Norway since 1996. Unfortunately, I still haven’t had a chance to eat the Bánh mì (Vietnamese sandwich), but I sure will when I return for lunch one day. We tasted the sourdough baguettes, though. Both the traditional white and the whole wheat multigrain – served with yuzu butter!

Scallop marinated in shallots & lemongrass butter, gratinated with aioli and sprinkled with chili fish sauce
Scallop marinated in shallots & lemongrass butter, gratinated with aioli and sprinkled with chili fish sauce

One of the best ever scallop dishes

Scallops marinated in shallots & lemongrass butter, gratinated with aioli and sprinkled with chili fish sauce arrived at our table. A velvet soft scallop, almost raw still, despite being gratinated in the oven with aioli. The richness was perfectly balanced by the sauce. It’s addictive and hands down one of the best scallops dishes I’ve ever eaten. The best part? It costs NOK 54! Consider that a fresh scallop easily costs NOK 45 if you buy it from a specialty store. I didn’t think anything could beat foie gras for me, but this one did. Still, the pan-fried foie gras on brioche with apple compote was a piece of heaven as well. We also got the classic cold tenderloin in tamarind sauce, which Xích Lô Mathallen also have, but here it is served with a French baguette in stead of prawn crackers.

Final espuma touch to the dessert platter
Final espuma touch to the dessert platter

When a pastry master makes desserts

Obviously, desserts is a field where Pierre excels. A plate of three different sweet palate pleasers ended our meal: a banana-toffee ice cream, a donut with cardamom ice cream and a classic “grandma” meringue with lemon cream that was topped with a lemongrass espuma tableside. All the tapas dishes at Xích Lô Asian Bakery & Tapas are priced between NOK 54 and NOK 89, which is a great price level if you’re like me and want to have a taste of everything. We left the place feeling satisfied and full and ready to catch the bizarre, but wonderful movie “The Lobster” at Vika cinema next door.

Have you been to either of the Xích Lô restaurants in town? Please leave a comment below.

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