THE OLD MARKET HALL
Helsinki’s oldest market hall, Vanha Kauppahalli – the Old Market Hall, is the place to go for all food lovers visiting the city. The building, fully renovated in 2014, has been serving its locals since 1889 with fresh products during good and hard times throughout the history in the city of Helsinki. It is well known to the locals that the market has seen its dark days like the food rationing during the war when only after 1945 the fresh goods were available again in the city. The internationalization of the Old Market Hall has also been a very important stage for the sellers that have started to import other European and international food products and today, among the Finnish delicacies, we can also find Spanish, Vietnamese, French, German, Middle Eastern and other Scandinavian flavors and products among others.
Being a must-go for all travelers and locals of Helsinki, the Old Market Hall in Finnish Vanha Kauppahalli, is perfectly located by the shore Eteläranta right next to the Market Square in one of the most iconic districts of the city also known as the Sopa District (yes, a NYC Soho’s competitor). The stalls are filled with delicatessen style products and special foods, fresh and full of taste such as bear meat, a unique experience for everyone’s palate. There are also fruits, vegetables, fish and sea food, baked goods, tasty cold meats and Finnish specialties like reindeer, gourmet style chocolates, cheese, and local products mixed with seasonal bites you can enjoy on the spot or take-away.
It is difficult not to stop and stare and wish and…buy, while going through the different stalls at the Old Market Hall. As we were exploring the market, this one glass window got our attention because it was beautifully displayed:
- Chocolate, lots of chocolate
- Chocolate Karelian Pies! (For those not familiar, these are called Karjalanpiirakat in Finnish, traditional pastries of Karelia, thin rye crusts in the shape of little boats filled with rice and served with egg butter or munavoi – never missing snacks from a Finnish event table).
Kultasuklaa KarjalanpiirakatThese cute chocolates and other delicious looking bites of heaven were carefully arranged on plates upon request by the cheerful and super friendly Nina that told us many interesting facts about Kultasuklaa.
Kultasuklaa was born in 1990 as a family business producing handmade chocolates in Iittala, Häme (also famous for its glassworks, a Finnish design world-wide known brand) and continues to deliver its sweetness through shops situated in Helsinki, Iittala and even online store.
Nina also told us about their seasonal collections and how tourists enjoy them so much that it’s always busy no matter the time of the year! She also mentioned how carefully ingredients are selected and if possible locally-sourced from nearby factories and producers in Iittala.
Aside from the truffles and bars, at Kultasuklaa stall we can also find organic and raw chocolate and even hard candy lollipops. We found it nice how the stall looked so personalized, welcoming and inviting, even the tips that Nina prepared: adding peppermint candy and some of their chocolate beans to a cup of warm milk and get the coziest hot chocolate ever!
After this sweet stop, while walking through the stalls and trying to choose, you can encounter the new flavors and trends in town – you’ll spot them especially if you’re a dedicated foodie!
Story: New flavours for curious foodies
Helsinki as a foodie’s destination is greatly emphasizing and marketing its food culture that is constantly expanding and innovating. Locals love going out to enjoy food and there are many possibilities to grab lunch in the city center for quite reasonable prices in comparison with the overall pricing scheme in Finland. If having a stroll downtown, you will be able to notice how most lunch places will charge between 8-13 euros per lunch which is usually quite consistent and nutritious.
Among the many different possibilities downtown, if you are an adventurous type and love to taste and try a little bit of everything while in Helsinki, Vanha Kauppahalli will be the perfect stop.
While exploring the stalls we have discovered Hanoi Vietnam. Needless to say, their nicely arranged crispy baguettes and perfectly crunchy spring rolls made us stop and test while taking some shots for you to see what we’re talking about.
Vietnamese food is a new thing in Helsinki but for sure it’s starting to flourish every day bringing exotic flavors to the Finnish capital. In the past couple years, we have seen places like HKI+ serving Pho soups starting to get quite popular because of its innovative edge: the Vietnamese cuisine and influences. Now we are lucky enough to have a little piece of Vietnam even in the Old Market Hall!
The selection at Hanoi Vietnam was quite good, from noodle salads, rice vermicelli Hanoi style, Pho noodle soups to baguettes, Vietnamese spring rolls, Aloe Vera waters (which are quite delicious and healthy), Vietnamese iced coffee and ginger candy and ginger beer to boost your immunity if you are dealing with a cold!
Testing out the Vietnamese Chicken Baguette, we realized how from the first bite our taste buds were having a party enjoying the crunchy chicken and onion mayo with the string of cilantro! If you don’t like cilantro you can also order it without but being honest, it gives a truly exotic taste to this crusty sandwich which is perfect to enjoy on the go and having the cilantro will also harmonize your breath. (wink wink)
Their mini vegetable spring rolls were quite affordable as well and very filling, the inside is a mix of veggies strips and the outside is nice and crispy (they actually make them crispier on request).
Aside from these two stalls we focused on, there are an abundance of many others and visiting the Old Market Hall is overall a unique experience one needs to experience when in Helsinki.
TASTINGS AT THE OLD MARKET HALL, MAISKIAISET
With the arrival of new seasons, our Vanha Kauppahalli’s vendors are offering tastings of new products like meat, vegetables, smoothies, little pieces of chocolate, coffee and other delicacies available to purchase. The best thing about it is that: everyone is invited!
If you follow Vanha Kauppahalli on Facebook just go and check their events to see when the next Tasting event called Maiskiaiset Afterwork will be held at the Old Market Hall. Gather with your friends or travel buddies and have a relaxing and gourmetish time at the Old Market Hall.
If you are interested in knowing more about the stalls at the Old Market Hall, make sure to check the list below and pay them a visit:
Story: Oldest Robert’s Coffee café of the chain, serving delicious Finnish pastries and gourmet coffee.
KONDITORIA MATTI JA MARI (BAKERY & PATISSERIE MATTI AND MARI)
Story: Offering yeast-free, handmade, full-grain loaves and other Finnish baked goodies
EL MERCADO (THE MARKET)
Story: Spanish delicatessen, tapas, best Spanish sausages, chocolates and oils from Spain
VEGETAARI (VEGGIES SPOT)
Story: Vegetarian and Vegan foods, to enjoy on the spot, raw products, salads, drinks, gluten-free.
SOPPAKEITTIÖ (SOUP KITCHEN)
Story: Well known by its locals and now in the Old Market Hall serving warm soups for all tastes. Check their Facebook below to see their daily offers and menus.
DELIDELI (FRENCH GOURMET)
Story: A stall all about France offering a wide range of gourmet products originally from France.
Story: One stall of the famous Finnish national monopoly of alcoholic beverages chain where you will find all the drinks you need for a toast, lunch, party, etc. You can check available beverages on their site according to locations and shops.
JUUSTOKAUPPA TUULA PAALANEN (CHEESE SHOP OF TUULA PAALANEN)
Story: A passionate Finnish cheese specialist selling a great variety of cheese and dairy products for different types of occasions.
Story: Locally sourced and organic pork hams, sausages and cured meats of distinguished high quality and other snacks.
Story: Local butcher offering a great range of delicacies, especially game and fowl with organic meat. Hunt on request!
Story: A beautifully positioned Scandinavian café and restaurant with a beautiful view on the side of the shore, delicious daily menu and lunch options with excellent service. You will feel like home. Follow them on Facebook so you can get the menu options before everyone else!
Story: One colorful spot in the market hall offering high-quality, organic and locally produced drinks, jams and smooth juices, herbs and even bath scents, all from local companies!
Story: Your small little café packed on a stall filled with baked goods, pastries and doughnuts and quick breakfast options and even beer!
Story: They are all about baked goods and sweets, moist cookies and cakes delivered with love. Check their Facebook for more info!
HONGISTON LEIPÄMYYMÄLÄ (HONGISTO’s BREAD SHOP)
Story: Founded in 1903 in the same place as it is nowadays, serving a variety of bakery goods with organic and gluten-free options as well.
PUOLAN HERKKU (POLAND’S DELICACIES)
Story: All kinds of products and goodies from Poland now available in the Old Market Hall for you to enjoy! From candy to appetizers, jams, sausages and drinks from Poland.
KALAKAUPPA E. ERIKSSON (THE FISH STALL)
Story: The freshest and widest variety of seafood and fish selection from Finland and other waters with organic options available, prepared on request and even transported and delivered. There is also an Oyster Bar for you to indulge and taste the finest oysters with a glass of champagne or other drinks available. Perfect take-away fish sandwiches too!
STADIN HERKUT (HELSINKI’S DELICACIES)
Story: A variety of ready-made food options of Finnish, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences.
Story: Fish prepared in many ways, you will surely find something for your own taste here.
KALALIIKE MARJA NÄTTI (THE SEAFOOD STALL)
Story: Opened since 1974 serving foodies and sea food lovers with the tastiest and exotic varieties. Usually tastings are offered! Mouthwatering blinis, pies and salads are made on the spot. Take note: here is where you can find Finnish caviar! Check their Facebook for updates on the stall!