Hotel St. George’s new street-level restaurant, Boon Nam, is the latest creation of chef Tomi Björck and his team. From early November 2020, it will showcase the rich flavours of Thai cuisine and the exotic scents of Asian spice markets in a lively and relaxed atmosphere.
Food brings good luck at Boon Nam
The name of the restaurant is Boon Nam, Thai for good luck. We interviewed Tomi Björck and asked him what good luck means to him.
- You have to take responsibility for your own luck and wellbeing. As a chef, however, I want my food to contribute to people’s holistic wellbeing, says top chef Tomi Björck.
- Healthy and high-quality ingredients alone do not guarantee wellbeing. Food is so much more than that. Passion, expert cooking techniques, a relaxed atmosphere and good company, are equally important in creating food that puts a smile on your face.
This tender approach inspired Helsinki’s liveliest new restaurant, Boon Nam, which Björck and his team opened on 10 November at Lönnrotinkatu 4 on the ground floor of Hotel St. George. Serving the rich flavours of Thai cuisine, it is already their second new restaurant this year. Lily Lee, also located in central Helsinki on Erottaja, has been almost fully booked since it opened in August.
A hotel restaurant is a new adventure for Björck
Tomi and Minka Björck and their two children have spent the past few years in the warm climate of Australia.
On his business trips to Helsinki, Tomi Björck regularly spent the night at Hotel St. George and became a fan of the hotel.
- I’ve seen the splendour of Hotel St. George and its excellent location next to the Old Church Park from the fresh perspective of a foreign visitor. This block has so much going for it: a wonderful spa, the first-class St. George Bakery, and the inviting bar at Wintergarden. I’d been thinking for a couple of years that if I ever had the opportunity to open a restaurant at Hotel St. George or its vicinity, I would grasp it without hesitation.
To Björck, who has run restaurants in three different countries, starting his first hotel restaurant brings new, exciting challenges.
- The idea of a five-star milieu does not unnerve me, as the luxury of St. George is not pompous. It’s different and relaxed, just like our restaurant. I’m fully onboard with St. George’s idea that holistic wellbeing is the sum of small everyday choices and actions.
Hotel St. George has several spaces for relaxation, but at Boon Nam, the atmosphere is different. Upon entering the visitor is treated to a multi-sensory experience reminiscent of an Asian spike market. Colours, flavours, scents and sounds come together in an ambience that inspires enjoyment and relaxation.
- The fresh, light Thai flavours and optimistic approach to life are the perfect complement to St. George’s philosophy of holistic wellbeing, Björck says.
Classic Thai dishes in a relaxed setting
Boon Nam’s menu features classic Thai recipes, built on the perfect harmony of sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavours. The small, delicious dishes are designed to be shared around the table.
- In Thailand, you rarely eat just a single dish. Even at a street kitchen, you would order a little bit of this and that. That’s why I encourage everyone to try our varied tasting menu, Björck recommends.
Traditional Thai cooking techniques like stir-frying and charcoal barbecuing enhance flavours. All the dishes are created from start to finish at the Boon Nam kitchen, adhering to the shared ethos of handmade food of St. George’s restaurants.
The success of a restaurant is teamwork
Would you say that, in 2020, you need more good luck than usual to open a new restaurant?
- We’re going forward with the same passion and desire to create something new as always. This year has been challenging for restaurateurs; they need luck. But I’m a firm believer in making one’s own luck.
According to Björck, the success of any restaurant comes from a strong and experienced team. Besides Björck, Boon Nam’s team features Minka Björck, Serko Rantanen, Ronny Malmberg, Kevin Manu and Hoang Ngyuen.
Bartender Jere Vihervaara who has worked at some of the world’s best bars, brings international cocktail expertise to Boon Nam.
– It’s not enough that I have the knowledge, skills and passion. Even if you can’t avoid seeing me at the Boon Nam kitchen, I won’t always be there, and the restaurant experience has to be equally top quality every single day. One of us owners is always present, and all our employees have plenty of international experience. They have learned from the world’s best chefs and developed a passion for Thai food at local street kitchens