Home Away From Holm

A pas­sion for in­gre­di­ents born of a ru­ral up­bring­ing drives Swedish chef Jim Löf­dahl, who this month opens the Hong Kong out­post of a Stock­holm icon. He tells Char­maine Mok about Frantzén’s Kitchen

Hong Kong Tatler - - | Life Food -

t’s au­tumn but still 30 de­grees, and the chirp­ing of birds is all but drowned out by the racket of a drill meet­ing con­crete. It couldn’t be fur­ther from the fairy-tale land­scape and en­croach­ing chill of his na­tive Swe­den at this time of year, but Jim Löf­dahl is un­fazed. Af­ter all, just a few months ago he was in the scorching Mid­dle East man­ning the Restau­rant Frantzén pop-up at Enigma—a venue that fea­tures a dif­fer­ent chef and con­cept ev­ery few months—in the Palazzo Ver­sace Dubai.

As the first chef Björn Frantzén and Daniel Lin­de­berg hired when they opened their sem­i­nal Stock­holm restau­rant Frantzén/lin­de­berg in 2008, Jim was ready to pack his bags again and head to Hong Kong to take the lead at the brand’s first per­ma­nent in­ter­na­tional out­post. Backed by Swedish hus­band-and-wife duo Arne and He­len Lind­man—cre­ators of Nosh and the Scandi-chic 11 Up­per Sta­tion Street in the Tai Ping Shan neigh­bour­hood of She­ung Wan—frantzén’s Kitchen will open on Novem­ber 14.

When I meet the Scan­di­na­vian chef on a hot Oc­to­ber day, I find he has been play­ing some se­ri­ous catch-up dur­ing his first three weeks in his newly adopted city. As we prowl She­ung Wan in search of a suit­able venue for fika, the all-im­por­tant cof­fee break that’s some­thing of an in­sti­tu­tion for all Swedes, he re­veals how he’s been cal­i­brat­ing his palate ahead of the pro­ject’s launch. “I like this neigh­bour­hood a lot,” says the lanky chef, who would look the part as a mem­ber of an in­die rock band. “Mrs Pound I’ve been to three times al­ready. You’ve got Mitte, which is great for a drink. And there’s Craftis­simo, which has so many beers. No Swedish ones though, only Dan­ish Mikkeller. Maybe I’ll have a word with them,” he laughs.

Af­ter we set­tle down with cof­fee (though, sadly, not the pas­tries that would make it a proper fika), I ask Jim how the food of Frantzén, as the restau­rant has been known since Lin­de­berg left in 2013 to pur­sue his dream of open­ing a bak­ery, will trans­late 8,000 kilo­me­tres away from home. I re­mem­ber it well from two years ear­lier, when I was one of 19 guests at the Gamla Stan es­tab­lish­ment served an ex­tra­or­di­nary menu of Nordic in­gre­di­ents. I was as­tounded by the clar­ity of flavours aris­ing from items such as a fer­mented rye soup en­riched with veal and chicken stock, and the brac­ing acid­ity of frozen sea buck­thorn berries. Frantzén is the kind of restau­rant where but­ter is fash­ioned from home­made clot­ted cream churned by the chef at the ta­ble. For a while, the kitchen made food me­dia head­lines by serv­ing a tar­tar of rein­deer topped with crispy onions and shaved rein­deer pe­nis.

At Frantzén’s Kitchen, there will be an

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