A pair of inventive Helsinki restaurateurs have transformed three long-overlooked city kiosks into hospitable hubs of singular street-food. We join the queue.
Helsinki’s distinctive wooden kiosks, built in the 1930s for the cancelled Olympic Games of 1940, have been given a new lease of life by business partners Laura Hansen and Tom Hansen, the duo behind much-loved neighbourhood bistro Kuurna. Each of the three kiosks serves its own take on classic street food. The first, Kiosquito, specialises in Mexican-style tacos and paletas (ice lollies). The second, Kiosuku, offers yakitori, a Japanese barbecue technique; while the third outlet, Kiosque, serves French café classics such as croque monsieurs and beignets (doughnuts). “The kiosks are very central and in key locations,” says Laura. “But since they haven’t been in use, people have forgotten about them. We wanted to bring them back to life and give people new spaces for enjoying urban life.”
The kiosks have been a hit at a time when indoor dining is still subject to restrictions. On our visit, they’re full of life, surrounded by patrons basking in the sunshine. To keep them appealing to all, the Hansens have kept the prices reasonable: yakitori skewerssell for €3 and tacos for €4, for instance. “Just like in Kuurna, our food is about simple, high-quality ingredients,” says Tom Hansen. Other cities hungry for fresh ways to reinvigorate their streets would do well to examine the kiosk model closely.