To be taken on a “culinary journey” is a cliché catchphrase that I personally take with a pinch of salt. With all the travelling that the modern person does, and the large range of cuisines readily available right outside our very own front doors, not many flavour sensations are really that new or sensational. We might not know what the Japanese Densuke watermelon tastes like, or had the opportunity to try a Chinese bird’s nest soup per se, but we sure know our sashimi from our Peking duck. In our minds, certain flavours and ingredients are linked to certain nations, regions and continents.
Entering Ultimat, restaurateur Nahid Hassan’s fifth venue in the line of Shanti eateries, we are transported to Bengali territory. A sleek yet exotic décor, created by Eva-Jo Hancock, picks up visual references from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, repacking them into an ambience palatable for the urban Scandinavian. For a more authentic Bengali experience, step into the loo, where the pre-recorded soundscape places you right in the centre of a busy traffic intersection in Dhaka. Perplexing.
Equally bewildering is Ultimat’s menu, consisting mainly of Bengali celebratory dishes, foods that Hassan and colleague Naim Uddin ate during weddings and feasts growing up.
The extensive a la carte menu centres around fish, rice and spices – the latter always roasted and ground by hand – and features no less than 25 to 30 mains. After long deliberation, we decide on the Bengali fish curry (225 kronor) and the Goan duck vindaloo (220 kronor). Distinct flavours of mustard oil and cumin meet the warmth of spices like cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg in the fish curry, making it stunningly complex. The vindaloo is equally sensational, but more of a punch in the stomach thanks to its potent spices. It should come with a delicate warning – the “it burns when you eat it, and it burns when you let it go” quote is very much true for the duck vindaloo. But totally worth the distress. We’ll be back for our next culinary journey shortly.
08 332 27 37
Words: Micha Von Dinther