There’s a lot more to Scandinavian food than Swedish meatballs. While most Americans’ associations with that region of Europe might involve inexpensive, difficult-to-assemble furniture, one man is setting out to change that, one sandwich at a time.
His name is Gert Kvalsund, and he’s the owner and chef at Henderson’s Saga Pastry + Sandwich. He’s also the former assistant executive chef at Ikea Las Vegas, but he can make a lot more than those little spongy balls for which the blue-and-yellow store is famous. And he’s happy to talk about his minimal-but-delicious approach to Scandinavian food, or the health benefits of wild coldwater shrimp, a Norwegian staple rarely found in the United States.
If you’re unfamiliar with Norwegian cuisine, expect simple, delicate flavors that balance freshness and fattiness with just the right amount of acidity. Seafood—like the Norwegian smoked salmon sandwich—is the main attraction at Saga, but there are options for vegetarians, too, like the buffalo mozzarella sandwich.
The Smorgasbord ($13) combines Saga’s three main proteins—Arctic shrimp with mayonnaise; smoked salmon and boiled eggs; and Fra’ Mani rosemary ham with Jarlsberg cheese—into one giant, open-faced sandwich you must fork-and-knife to eat. (You can also get sandwiches served in a Nordic waffle or on a baguette). Feeling sweet? There’s a full waffle, pancake and crepe bar—$8 gets you your vessel of choice and three toppings—along with an assortment of traditional Norwegian pastries from Chef Flemming’s Bake Shop in Boulder City. Whatever you choose, it’ll be an adventure.
Saga Pastry + Sandwich 10345 S. Eastern Ave. #100, 702-260-0860. Daily, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.