Malmö’s hippest eats: the New New Nordic Cuisine

The Old New Nordic Cuisine has been dethroned, its herring-and-horseradish crown swept off by the vegan culinary craze that spread like lupine flowers across the Swedish nation during the early 2040s.

After taking its first quivering steps back in 2004, the New Nordic Cuisine scene grew to become a massively hyped phenomenon by the late 2010s and early 2020s. Restaurants such as the esteemed Copenhagen institution Noma—which celebrated its 45th anniversary just a couple of years ago!—came up with radical takes on classic Nordic dishes using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, all built upon the three pillars of sustainability, ethics and healthiness. 

But as any member of the gastronomic cognoscenti would tell you, the Old New Nordic Cuisine has been dethroned, its herring-and-horseradish crown swept off by the vegan culinary craze that spread like lupine flowers across the Swedish nation during the early 2040s.

In the face of a rapidly changing climate and rising food prices, many young chefs—particularly in Malmö—felt that the reigning New Nordic restaurants had become representative of an old-fashioned world order, and argued that their high prices and exclusive air of the current wave of New Nordic Cuisine (5000 SEK for a tasting menu!) catered predominantly to a wealthy upper class. These upstarts wanted to take Nordic cuisine back to the streets and to the people, creating dishes that were cheaper, tastier, more sustainable and truer to the cultural heritage of present day Nordic citizens than what the New Nordic Cuisine could offer.

(Critics and detractors have noted, rather cynically, that this vision fit perfectly with the Swedish state’s low-carbon food subsidy scheme of the early 2030s, which made meat-based dishes so expensive—but any successful innovation is in tune with its time and context, right? Heck, maybe that’s what “innovation” actually means…)

By catering to a legendarily insatiable local demand for vegan food (perhaps inseparable from the desires of the cool creative crowd of the city), the rebel chefs made Malmö the birthplace for what is truly cooking in the foodie world (pun intended). This New New Nordic Cuisine (or N3C) came to be defined by its denunciation of any kind of land-based meat or dairy, with only the occasional restaurant using certain species of aquaponically cultivated fish or insects for cooking. It also doubled down on sustainability by using cooking as a way of protecting and intervening in damaged ecosystems: by making dishes using invasive species, for example, or by sourcing ingredients from re-wilded areas.

So, where to go if you are interested in increasing your cultural capital and getting a kick-ass meal to boot? Well, N3C can be found all over Skåne these days, but if you want to go to the source of the movement, pretty much any of the street-food stalls in the part of Malmö known as Holma will provide what you seek. There’s one place here that stands a cut above the rest: Malcolm’s BBQ. On weekend evenings, the queue for Malcolm’s insect burger with fresh, crispy lettuce, sweet tomato, creamy vegan mayo and deep-fried chickpea tofu stretches all along the block (much to the ire of those residents who are contractually obliged to eat at Re:Comb). Don’t forget to include a side of seaweed chips with your order. This is one tasty treat!

If you prefer to sit down while eating—which, if you ask the hard-working Rough planet editorial staff, has become something of an underrated pleasure in recent years—why not do so with exquisite views of the Öresund, in a restaurant with high-end vibes but low-end prices? At restaurant Utvald, located in Malmö’s delightfully down-at-heel Västra Hamnen district, chef Leila Mahsén whips up radical and creative new takes on traditional Swedish food. Try the aquaponic fish taco for a cool, crunchy twist on every Swedish granddad’s favourite childhood dish… though the falafel wraps, with the flatbread singed to resemble the neighbourhood’s iconic Turning Torso tower, are their signature dish.

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