I don’t think any restaurant really wants to be a hidden gem. It is more likely that restaurants want to be popular hot spots for hordes of customers. Most restaurants are in the business of making money, after all. As they should be. At the risk of sounding condescending, trite, cliched and all the rest of it, I think Magu in Helsinki’s Vallila district is a hidden gem.
Restaurants in Vallila have a hard time. They have to try just a tiny bit harder to succeed. Vallila is hip, but not that hip. It is a little out of the way. You usually have to make an effort to get there. I am biased, but I think it actually can be worth the effort to get there. The restaurants have free tables, the bars are cosy and nobody bothers you unless you make a scene. But these things are a blessing and a curse for a restaurant.
Magu’s dinner menu is tiny, but everything is good – we should know since we basically ate the entire menu. The food is vegan, but you can take your non-vegan friend along and they will love it. (Make them try the carbonara.) Magu serves lunch on weekdays and brunch on Sundays. The ambience is quiet and reserved, the lights are dim and the music is quiet enough to make you focus on the food. Nothing is overstated and everything seems just the way it should be.
You could say that it is nothing special, but it is nothing special portioned just right.