Favorite "Must-try" Foods in Iceland
I had expected to be blown away by the scenic and unique landscapes of Iceland but what I was truly blown away by was how much I fell in love with their food! I am not a foodie and I can count on my fingers the number of times I truly enjoyed food in restaurants. I also don't claim to have a well-developed or sophisticated palate and coming from India, I generally tend to enjoy spicy food, so falling in love with Icelandic food and restaurants to me, has come as such a welcome surprise! With that said, I want to share some of the best foods and restaurants that we thoroughly enjoyed in Iceland. And they range from street food trucks serving local delicacies to fancy restaurants serving international cuisine.
1) Geysir Bread Icecream:
We can always talk about food, but first, desserts :) We didn't expect much when we ordered this dessert at Vogafjos Farm Restaurant and thought it might be one of those tourist gimmicks. But this - chunks of Icelandic Rye bread that is baked in the ground for 24 hours in the midst of fresh velvety smooth ice-cream - is one of the best non-chocolate desserts I ever had!
And this is one of the tastiest starter platters we had in Iceland. It had freshly made mozzarella, raw smoked lamb, smoked arctic char and dill-cured arctic char, Geysir bread and fresh salad. This is a farm restaurant with a cowshed attached and the cheese was homemade, fresh and delicious.
We enjoyed pretty much everything we ate at this restaurant and I was glad I picked this for my husband's birthday.
2) Monkeys Nikkei Cuisine:
I had no idea that Nikkie Cuisine - a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian culinary techniques and produce - is a thing! We were walking in downtown Reykjavik and I was intrigued when I saw this board and just walked in.
It was late afternoon past lunchtime, so we were seated immediately. I loved the vibe and decor of the place, though my husband wasn't particularly impressed.
I ordered the Monkeys Lunchbox which had 4 small courses, warm and cold served in a box. I think mine were Crispy chicken gyoza, Tuna Ceviche, Beef Tataki and lamb. The food was an alluring combination of ingredients and the flavors were absolutely delicious! The lamb was so succulent and seductive that it melted in my mouth and is definitely one of the best small plates I ever ate!
My husband wasn't that lucky with his order of Udon noodles with Katsu chicken but I am definitely going to explore more of Nikkei cuisine.
3) Langoustine/Lobster Roll:
The lobster roll at "Heimahumar" food truck was so fresh, so juicy, and so tasty that I ate 2 in a row and still wanted to eat more! The softness of the langoustines against the crispness of the onions combined with the flavor of the sauces was mouthwateringly good!
If you are visiting Jokulsarlon/Glacial Lagoon in Iceland, don't miss this food truck there. Where else can you eat an awesome warm lobster roll with a breathtaking cool view!
4) Icelandic Hot Dog:
You will hear this from everybody and it is true - Bæjarins beztu pylsur hot dog stand in downtown Reykjavik is a must try! I loved the hot dog here and I don't have a lot to compare it with (I think this is the second hot dog I ever ate), but the long lines here speak for themselves :)
In case you missed it in downtown, don't worry, they have a counter at the airport too :)5) Friðheimar - A Food Experience
Fridheimar is a greenhouse farm powered by geothermal energy, that grows tomatoes all year round with an in-house restaurant with the theme of their cuisine being - well, tomatoes. They serve delicious hot tomato soup, amazingly warm freshly baked bread, interesting tomato cocktails and even a tomato ice cream. We tried them all and it was so much fun!
And here's the tomato ice cream - chunks of raw tomatoes in vanilla ice cream covered with tomato puree. It was interesting and wasn't as bad as it sounds, neither as good as it looks :)
A restaurant visit has rarely been this exciting. It was quite a drive (50 minutes from Thingvellir National Park) but was totally worth it. It is best to take advanced reservations but we spent our waiting time learning about the greenhouse and enjoying the sunflowers. We loved the total experience and whole-heartedly recommend a visit here.
6) Skyr Cake:
Technically skyr is a soft cheese, however it's eaten more like a yogurt in Iceland, but we had it in the form of a dessert :) My husband loved it.
7) Icelandic Rye Bread & Arctic Char:
Icelandic Rye Bread - which is dense, mildly sweet and hearty - and Arctic Char - which is a cold-water fish that is closely related to salmon and trout - are both popular and native to Iceland. We loved them at Vogafjos Farm Restaurant, so ordered them again at the "Lava Restaurant" at the Blue Lagoon, where we dined for our anniversary.
8) Lamb Prime/Shank:Lamb meat is quite popular too in Iceland. I have tried it as a main course at a couple of places but it was too heavy for me, flavorful nonetheless.
I know, I know, this has nothing to do with Iceland specials, but it had such a shock element in our trip, that I did not want to miss mentioning here. We were on our way to a 5-hour glacier hike at Skaftafell with Troll Expeditions. We stopped by at Vatnajokull National Park which is close by and checked out their cafeteria next to the Visitor Center - Kaffiterían Skaftafelli. And our jaws dropped when we saw the menu - Veg Biryani, Chicken Biryani, Pasta and Samosas - in a National Park in Iceland!
We couldn't believe our luck and had to get it packed - wouldn't it be cool to eat biryani on a glacier ;) We didn't end up eating it while on the glacier, but we had it for dinner at the campground and it was good. May be they had an Indian Chef who decided to hijack the menu that day as it was August 15th, India's Independence Day :) Or maybe, it's a thing in Iceland National Parks - who knows.
I am sure there is a lot more that we haven't tried but we loved pretty much everything that we did, with the exception of 2 things - chocolate & coffee. Though Iceland is part of Europe, I couldn't find chocolate that I loved and trust me, I tried many varieties! And coffee, we thought was, meh too. Other than that, if you are heading to Iceland and you love food, you are in for a treat!
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