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Monothematic restaurants can be tricky. Very exciting (and highly Instagrammable) at first, their novelty tends to wear off over time – unless their key ingredient is something iconic that has been part of the local cuisine for generations. For Norway, that ingredient would be salmon. Chef Geir Skeie’s latest fast food chain endeavor, Pink Fish, is making salmon the star of the menu with versatile offerings inspired from his travels. Turns out, that pink fish is good for so much more than just sushi.
When you hit your life goals at 28, where do you go from there? Geir Skeie seems to be thinking along those lines. The young chef’s goal was to win the Bocuse d’Or award by the time he was 30; he won it at 28. After that, going back to just fine dining seemed less exciting. He already loved working with seafood at his restaurant Brygga 11 in Sandefjord, where everything is freshly harvested from the sea, so he chose to do something with bigger impact. Working together with co-founder Ronny Gjøse, they set up Pink Fish.
The idea was to tap into all that top-quality salmon Norway produces and usually just exports (one million tons of farmed salmon were exported around the world only last year), and showcase how versatile and creative a dish can be. Skeie was surprised there were no fast-casual European restaurant chains with a fish focus, so he created just that. At the Pink Fish restaurants, you can get your salmon in the form of burgers, wraps, salads, and poké bowls – even waffles. It was important to him to create a concept that could become a go-to for young people, an alternative to grabbing a slice of pizza when out with friends.
Everything on the menu is divided into three cuisines: Asian, American, and European. This means that if you go for a burger you can choose between Vietnamese-inspired with soya sauce and mango, a Texas barbeque one, or a burger with smoked bell peppers and aioli. Similar options are available for the salads, wraps, hot-pots, poké bowls and brunch items. Skeie is traveling a lot, and thinks all these flavors he comes across could work really well with salmon. This way of thinking is particularly groundbreaking in Norway, where salmon has been traditionally served either smoked on hard bread, or grilled/baked and served with boiled potatoes.
There are currently two Pink Fish restaurants in Oslo – one in Grensen and one inside the Steen & Strøm department store. There is great attention to detail when it comes to design, with the element of timber being prominent and phrases like “from fjord to fork”, emphasizing the chain’s commitment to sustainability. You won’t find any plastic here either: sugar cane packaging, cardboard straws and cutlery made of 100% natural starch prove Pink Fish’s eco-conscious values. With new restaurants opening in Oslo and Bergen, and plans to expand to Singapore and China in the future, it looks like the salmon are going places.