At the end of our first full day exploring the Faroe Islands (including some stunningly awesome sea cliffs), we found ourselves back in Tórshavn for dinner. When trying to figure out which option to try for dinner (unlike most of the rest of the Faroes, Tórshavn has a reasonably good selection of good restaurants), one of the options was “sushi”. And, since one of the ever-present sights while driving through the many fjords of the Faroes is the giant, circular aquaculture pens, I figured this would be a good opportunity to try some of the salmon. With that in mind, we decided to tryout out Etika, the only actual sushi restaurant in the Faroe Islands.
Nestled in a funky little space (which we later found out had originally been a flower shop), just off of the central harbor in Tórshavn, Etika is pretty cozy little sushi shop with a handful of tables and a few benches. And, unlike most other sushi shops, no sushi counter, since all prep was actually happening downstairs in the kitchen. But the menu is your basic sushi restaurant fare, with a good selection of Japanese-style appetizers, a few salmon-based salads, and the like, and then a selection of sushi rolls and sashimi items.
Although poring over the menu, a few things were apparent that gave Etika a slightly different feel than most other sushi joints. First, there wasn’t a single tuna item on the menu. This isn’t really that surprising: the tuna stocks in the North Atlantic are low, and it’s too pricey to import. What there was a lot of (in fact, most of the menu was based upon) salmon: the product of the Faroe Islands aquaculture industry. There’s also a bit of shrimp and langoustine, since those are also staples of the Faroese fishing industry. And then there was another item where even the English translation didn’t immediately clue me in: “porbeagle”. Turns out, after a bit of googling, that porbeagle is actually a type of shark, and yields a soft, tender variety of sushi with a shockingly pork-like texture.
So with that in mind, we ordered a few appetizers, a selection of sushi rolls, and a few bottles of Faroese beer (this time Black Sheep from Föroya Bjór, the largest brewery in the Faroes). I’ll start with one of the appetizers: a set of tempura shrimp. These were a great start: the Faroes have a good shrimp fishery, and these were nicely done skewers: crispy breading, not overly thick, and the shrimp inside cooked just barely to the point of perfection, with a rich and pleasant flavor.
Moving on, we also had a nice salmon salad: a mix of spiced mayo, diced salmon, and roe, and I’ll have to say, this dish really showcased the salmon well. There’s always a bit of a different flavor that farmed salmon has, but the Faroese farmed salmon is still very enjoyable: tender, flavorful, and practically melting in your mouth with a rich salmon flavor, and this salad did a really good job delivering that.
The sushi rolls? That same salmon make for a seriously delicious basic salmon maki, and also served as one of the components in a particularly flavorful house roll (identified on the English menu only as the “hot” roll, with tempura shrimp, mango, spicy mayo, and salmon as an outer layer). In fact, between the salad and these rolls, I’ve become rather a fan of Faroe Islands salmon. The porbeagle? Pleasant enough, but fairly soft in flavor; I think if I do it again I’d just focus on more of the delicious salmon.
I should also briefly mention the beer: the Faroes definitely are only starting to see the micro-brew and hoppy beer revolution that’s been taking over everywhere else (including Iceland): the beers here are still pretty conservative, although our Black Sheep was a quite enjoyable Vienna-style lager. I’m wondering if in a future visit I’ll come and find the entire island chain supporting five more breweries and a dozen hoppy varieties, but for now, the Faroes still has a relatively calm and small beer scene.
Overall? Despite being the only actual sushi shop for several hundred miles, Etika was pleasantly surprising. The sushi was quite flavorful, indeed, some of the best salmon sushi I’ve ever had, and all the dishes were well-executed. Etika wasn’t just ‘Faroe Islands Good’, but one of the better sushi places I’ve been to anywhere.