On a recent visit to Norway we uncovered an exciting new fast-casual dining experience that’s quickly swimming upstream.
Thanks to the abundance of fish off their shores, Norwegians love to consume seafood. They’ve shared that love with the world by exporting no less than one million tons of farmed salmon in the last year.* Despite that, the inclusion of salmon and seafood dishes in the local quick-service food scene has been slow to appear, besides the overwhelming prevalence of sushi offerings in the country. When it comes to ordering salmon off the menu in Norway it has traditionally been baked or boiled and served with mashed potatoes. So it hasn’t really been a go-to dish for young diners on the move.
Enter Geir Skeie, Norwegian chef, restaurateur of the group of fine dining establishments Brygge 11, and winner of the 2009 Bocuse d’Or world cooking contest. Skeie observed that, despite its popularity, there was a gap in the market for offering salmon in a “convenient and flavourful” way to younger consumers. Like many chefs world over, he has recognised the potential to make more money selling tasty, cheaper food to the masses than by selling expensive fine dining to the elite. So, with his business partners he launched PINK FISH in Oslo twelve months ago, quickly rolling out three more stores and a fifth in Bergen over the past year.
PINK FISH has all the hallmarks of an upmarket diner – think Australia’s Grill’d, LEON in the UK, or New York’s Dig Inn – but it focuses on only one protein, salmon. So perhaps it bears closer similarity to something like Nando’s. At its core though is a simplicity of offering and a healthy menu. Focused on a modest fifteen key items, grouped as Burgers, Salads and Wraps, Hot Pots and Raw (poké). A handful of sides/desserts and drinks are available to accompany the meals. Nothing on the menu is over 800 kilocalories, while many items are astonishingly less than 300 kcal. What’s more, achieving these low-calorie counts doesn’t come at the cost of flavour!
PINK FISH is reasonably priced for its positioning. Most dishes cost around 110 to 120 Norwegian krone, which when compared to the cost of a Big Mac at 49 kr, reflects the higher quality product and global standards for fast-casual dining.
It all adds up to a delicious alternative for Norway’s discerning young diners looking for a healthy, tasty and affordable substitute to the usual (and ubiquitous) burgers and sushi.
Signs show things are going swimmingly for PINK FISH, as next year will see two more outlets open in Norway and the first international branch at Singapore’s Changi airport in March. We think there’s a strong chance that very soon the rest of Europe, and maybe one day Australia and the US, might even land a PINK FISH of their own. Here’s hoping!