Blue Light Yokohama, Södermalm, Stockholm, Sweden ****

Q: What is it? A: Probably the best choice in Stockholm if you’re looking for an izakaya-meal, minus the heavy drinking. Very, very good Japanese food. Very kind to your wallet.

Probably my favourite at Blue Light Yokohama – salmon marinated in sweet miso soup and sake.

Shake no saikyouyaki – 鮭の西京焼 – my favorite at the Blue Light Yokohama – salmon marinated in sweet miso soup and sake, sweet and salty at the same time.

Probably the most abused Japanese serving. Here, prepared and cooked to perfection.

A restaurant’s relationship with their miso soup is a sign of their culinary ambitions… Often miso in Stockholm means dirty sea-water. At BLY, it means perfection.

Warming up...

A pre-tatsuta warm-up. Left: Shrimps on glass noodles. Right: A slice of mackerel + an abused piece of shrimp on vegetables.

Chicken, sprinkled with Japanese katakuro-ko (potato starch) before being deep-fried.

Chicken tatsuta – チキン竜田揚げ – chicken, sprinkled with Japanese katakuro-ko (potato starch) before being deep-fried. This is the item on their menu that was most often getting ”I want more of that”-orders last year. And it’s certainly addictive.

Shake, baby, shake! 'Shake' means 'salmon' in Japanese.

The chef’s salmon variations. From left to right: Nigiri Svennebanan-style (don’t ask), sushi gunkan style with ikura (salmon roe that has been cured in soy sauce), a shake roll with (again) ikura, and a nigiri with grilled salmon. High quality but no surprises.

Just say 松 and enjoy!

Fourteen little pieces. Selected by your chef. Fourteen quite little pieces that tasted fine, I should say. Just say 松 and enjoy!

Dear Japanese restaurants in Stockholm – please, use this as blueprint for your yakiniku!

Yakiniku in a small pan with some crispy salad, bulgogi-style. Simple! Super!

People say that I may commit severe crimes to get ice-cream, especially sorbet. They may be right.

This sorbet is up there with the best of them, (and I consider myself an expert). Yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit provides the taste. Correct, this is very, very, very fresh!

It's a food temple. Not too many locals are familiar with it.

Don’t get fooled by the nondescript exterior of Blue Light Yokohama, located on Åsögatan 170 in the Södermalm area. I’m lucky enough to live a mere three blocks away.

Since the early 90s, we’ve been hugging our little styrofoam trays…
Sweden, a tiny country at the end of the road. We, the folks inhabiting this itsy-bitsy nation always wanted to belong to the global village. In the early 90s, these ambitions was marked by raw pieces of fish on little chunks of rice.
Twenty years later, sushi has the status of pizza; a food commodity. Should you have it in Stockholm, brace yourself for mediocre food at a high price-tag. There has been very few serious attempts to claim the title ‘the best Japanese food in Stockholm’. But since mid-2011, we might have a contender.

Now, the Izakaya has arrived.
Sushi has been bad, but those of us who wanted a warm Japanese dish, haven’t been lucky either. We’ve been forced to order low quality meat, soaked in soy. For us, the arrival of Blue Light Yokohama to the Södermalm borough was a sign that The Dark Era of the Yakiniku was finally over.
After miso, I start every meal here with the Shake no saikyouyaki. This dish sends you and your palate on a mildly sweet and salty journey, enjoying a piece of salmon that ended its days being marinated in sweet miso soup and sake. I have had about a dozen of these (I live only a few blocks away from this restaurant) and so far, the texture has been perfect each time. A sensation. Trust me on that one.

That chicken didn’t die in vain.
The most ordered (and back-ordered) item on the menu is the Chicken tatsuta. These little birds were sprinkled with Japanese katakuro-ko (potato starch) before being deep-fried. Watch it! The meat is always hotter beneath the delicious little crust. It is also irresistible.
And then, there’s the abused dish that we mentioned earlier: The Yakiniku. The BLY-version is remarkably simple. Sliced entrecôte served in a small pan with some crispy salad, bulgogi-style. The secret is, of course, in the sauce, where the sweetness is carefully balanced by sake, mirin, sugar and garlic (I’m determined to get their recipe, or purchase buckets of the stuff). The meat is being gently hugged and caressed by this sauce and you will be too.

And now, back to raw fish:
Type ‘sushi’ in the Stockholm yellow pages and you’ll get 238 hits. Very few of these places have any culinary ambitions (if any at all). It should be noted that at Blue Light Yokohama you’ll find very good sushi. Not excellent sushi. Not anywhere near the dazzling performance art of Råkultur. But expect very good sushi served with respect for both ingredients and traditions. Refreshing in this city.
Speaking about serving… if there is any area where Blue Light Yokohama leaves room for improvement, it’s service. It’s often friendly but never flawless. Items continue to be forgotten, presentations are rudimental or even poor, which is a huge disadvantage as the restaurant prides itself of serving food that is ”Healthy, weird and tasty!”
And those who know me, will now be able to read between lines. Blue Light Yokohama gets four stars, despite these flaws. That, if anything, says something about how good their kitchen is.

Bonus: It should be noted that a meal here will not force you to sell your children or even your puppy dog. The value for money is nothing but excellent.

Weekdays lunch: 11.30 – 14.00
Weekdays dinner: 17.00 – 22.00
Saturdays and Sundays 12.00 – 22.00
Closed on Mondays.

Blue Light Yokohama
Åsögatan 170
116 32 Stockholm

+46-8-644 68 00 (currently the only way to book a table)

UPDATE: About the Japanese food scene in Stockholm.
I’m still a fairly frequent guest at Blue Light Yokohama, but competition is now more fierce and Izakaya-styled meals begun to surface here and there. These will always be great alternatives (all of them with a higher pricetag):

• RÅKULTUR – for many years the stronghold of ambitious sushi in Stockholm. Sayan Isaksson knows what he’s doing. See the review here.

• SHIBUMI – opened in 2014 in the same building as Råkultur. Chef Saori Ichihara was only 25 when she was hand-picked by Sayan Isaksson. A smart move. This will become a classic. See the review here.

• SUSHI SHO – a hole in the wall that started to dazzle the Stockholmers with amazing edo-mae-style sushi in late spring 2014. Fantastic, is the word that first comes to mind. See what you get here.

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