Tag Archives: dinner

Icho

21 Nov

Place: Icho

Address: Carrer Déu I Mata, 65 – 92

Meal Eaten: Dinner

Background: As is often the case, I spent way too much time consulting reviews of sushi restaurants on TripAdvisor in hopes of finding my new favorite spot. My research, coupled with finding some extra euros lying around my apartment, led me to Icho, touted as a fusion of Japanese and Mediterranean cuisine in an upscale setting. Additionally, the reliable website ComerJapones had a lengthy positive write-up about the restaurant, albeit in Spanish. I headed to the restaurant with high expectations and a rather empty stomach, which turned out to be a bad idea.

Setting: Icho is located in a part of the city I had rarely visited, with relatively quiet streets and much open space. These characteristics surprisingly turned out to describe the restaurant itself. Icho takes up a huge space on its street – it is sprawled across several apartment-sized buildings. Once inside, I noticed that the space is used oddly: there is a well-lit main dining room with much room between tables, as well as various nooks of the restaurant which stretch deeper, but do not appear to be in use. Couple all that with a sushi bar and kitchen partially visible to diners, and the result is a rather weird combination of sorts.

Food/Price: Upon receiving a menu, I experienced a bit of sticker shock. The prices were astonishingly high for appetizers and main courses alike, which I had somewhat expected. The pricing of set plates of sushi, however, was much more of a surprise. In my experience, even when a la carte sushi selections are pricey, the set plates are meant to provide a small relief to the diner, offering a moderately priced and modestly portioned assortment of pieces. This was not the case at Icho as my choice of five pieces of nigiri cost 25 euros. Five euros per piece of a la carte sushi is fairly standard at very high-end establishments, but even those restaurants will have some sort of set plate, usually around 25 euros but offering more than your run-of-the-mill five piece assortment. The tuna, whitefish, shrimp, and salmon roe pieces, while above average quality, were nothing close to good value and left me feeling just as hungry as before I

began my meal. Thinking I had found a relative bargain on the menu, I ordered a roll for around 7 euros, only to find that at Icho, this item consists of three pieces. Wow. Granted, there were a couple of set menu options that offered what seemed like a relatively diverse variety of food for around 60 euros, but none of these options contained sushi and from the looks of the food on the table next to me, featured similarly comically small portions. An order of tuna tartare (around 16 euros) was tasty and well-seasoned, but at that point, the meal experience had taken a turn for the worst on me.

Bottom Line: Icho does well at combining aspects of Japanese and Mediterranean cuisine, a trend that I have noticed growing in diverse metropolitan areas. The space is, if nothing else, is interesting, and the menu offers diners of all preferences sure to find something intricate and enjoyable. The relation of this food to its price, however, is another story. There are better options for quality sushi in the city, and just about all of them will not burn as deep a hole in your wallet. Until the restaurant can reform their menu, my advice would be to stay away.

Ratings:

Food: 7.25 (taking into account the price tag).

Setting: 8

Cost: 55 euros

ON Sushi

1 Nov

Place: ON Sushi

Address: Carrer Rosselló, 154

Meal Eaten: Dinner

Background: Even though it is harder to research restaurants online being in Europe than in my hometown of New York, I always do some background research of places on websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp, which is currently trying to expand its resources outside of the United States. Last weekend, however, I chose to dine at ON Sushi based largely on its convenient and walkable location to my apartment in Barcelona, after only briefly making sure that the few reviews it did have were somewhat positive. I called in advance to make sure a table would be available, which is recommended, and walked over with cautiously optimistic expectations.

Setting: ON Sushi is located on a quiet strip of Carrer Rosselló, and its small entrance is easily missed. While its nondescript entranceway matches the ominous sort of neighborhood in which is it placed, the interior is entirely different. The main corridor contains the sushi bar, which was completely full when we arrived. As a backdrop, the bar features all sorts of differently colored lights, complete with large paintings of women’s heads behind the sushi chefs as they work. The eight or so tables are located up a small set of stairs at the back of the restaurant, completing its ultra-‘hip’ decor. 

Food/Price: The menu listed dishes fairly typical of sushi restaurants, with a modest selection of soups, salads, assorted Japanese appetizers and small dishes, and set sushi and sashimi plates. One defining feature of ON Sushi’s menu was the vast choice of special rolls it had. I chose to order two of these to split with my companion, the Spicy Tuna Maki (around 14 euros) and the Red Maki, a mix of tuna, salmon, avocado, and tobiko on the outside (around 15 euros). In addition, I ordered the 9 varieties of sushi plate for myself (around 22 euros). Simply put, the rolls were among the best (and definitely the tastiest) I have eaten in my time at Barcelona. I preface that by stating that they were not the most authentic selections of sushi – large quantities of spicy mayonnaise were used in both. The freshness of the fish mixed with the sauce combined to produce an exceedingly tasty delicacy, and the tobiko on the outside of the Red Maki roll provided a crunchy finish. The 9 varieties of sushi, while sticking to fairly standard offerings like tuna, salmon, bonito, whitefish, and not containing any particular surprises, was equally fresh and delectable. While the rolls were on the pricy side (as is often the case for ‘special rolls’ in Barcelona), the set sushi plate was priced along the lines of what I have come to expect from quality sushi joints in the city, and I definitely emerged from the meal full. 

Bottom Line: I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the fish at ON Sushi, and would use the word ‘tasty’ if I had to sum up my experience. Their roll combinations were superb, and the freshness of the fish was evident. The lighting and space in the restaurant provided a nice ambiance, and there were also a couple of specialty cocktails on the menu that looked good. I would highly recommend this place to fish lovers who savor a little more flavor in their sushi than normal.

Ratings:

Food: 8.25

Ambiance: 8.25

Cost: 40 euros

Koy Shunka

17 Oct

Place: Koy Shunka

Address: Carrer Copons, 7

Meal Eaten: Dinner

Background: As I briefly mentioned in my post reviewing the sushi restaurant Shunka, the owners of the establishment recently opened the chic restaurant Koy Shunka on a nearby parallel street. I had spent the past couple of months reading praising reviews, as I listened to critics from TripAdvisor all the way to The New York Times talk about its standing as one of the top Japanese restaurants in all of Europe. Finally, blessed with the apparently unbeatable and very lucky combination of my girlfriend’s 21st birthday and her mother being in town to celebrate, I got my long-awaited chance to try it out for myself. Be advised to book a table in advance, as the restaurant reaches capacity virtually every night.

Setting: Much like its sister restaurant, Koy Shunka is situated on an tiny, quiet side street near the Cathedral of Barcelona. The entrance is unassuming, with several miniature sushi sculptures surrounding the menu outside its front door. The sushi bar and tables in front allow consumers a view of the kitchen, a feature becoming more and more popular in today’s restaurant world. The seating in the main portion of the restaurant in the back, where we sat, is very quiet.

Food/Price: Knowing that I had been waiting for this meal for quite awhile (and having starved myself all day), I leapt at the chance to order one of the two set daily menus (72 euros) offered by the restaurant. The menu featured both sushi and non-sushi Japanese specialties, including eel nigiri with a shiso leaf garnish (picture bottom left), several different cuts of tuna sashimi (bottom right), a mushroom based cold soup, Wagyu beef, tempura, and an assortment of sushi. See the pictures taken below for mouthwatering details. My girlfriend ordered the sushi combination plate (21 euros), which included seven pieces of sushi and two roll pieces (bottom center). Each of my seven courses were exquisite and truly delicious. The fatty tuna cuts from the tuna sashimi plate melted in my mouth, while I used the sheet of nori seaweed to scoop up the tuna tartare also included in the dish. The Wagyu beef was soft and marinated to perfection, and the final plate, the assortment of sushi, provided somewhat of a twist, as each piece was slightly seared to give off a bit of a smoky flavor to the fish (see following picture). 

Bottom Line: Koy Shunka is pricey. Very pricey. The a la carte portions are small, and, starting at 72 euros, the set menus are not exactly a bargain. The restaurant is critically acclaimed for good reason, however. Several times during the course of my set menu (which was more than enough food, by the way), I had the feeling that I was nibbling at art rather than consuming food. The dishes were meticulously prepared, often pairing a salty flavor with a sweet one, or offering several of the same type of fish in a radically different method, yielding various flavors. Koy Shunka lived up to my expectations as a top-notch inventive restaurant that I would be lucky enough to visit once.

Ratings:

Food: 9

Ambiance: 8

Cost: Depending on a la carte/set menu one/set menu two: 45 euros/80 euros/115 euros

Nakashita

4 Oct

Place: Nakashita

Address: Rec Comtal, 15

Meal Eaten: Dinner

Background: I decided to dine at Nakashita after reading a raving review from a fellow blogger. The restaurant had largely remained off my radar until this point, mainly because it was not on any of my ‘must try’ lists from friends from home and only had one review (albeit a good one) on TripAdvisor. I made a reservation, which is recommended, and sat down for a Tuesday night dinner.

Setting: The location of Nakashita is rather odd, as it is not in any of the neighborhoods known for a prominent restaurant scene in Barcelona. It is located right near the Arc de Triomf, and only a couple minutes walk from the Arc’s subway stop, tucked away on a small side street. The decor is, as I have noticed in all the sushi restaurants I have eaten at so far in Barcelona, rather simple. There were a couple of features, however, that attracted me to the restaurant. The inside is intimate, only containing around 6 tables inside, in addition to a sushi bar. Furthermore, there was outdoor seating available on the quiet sidewalk under umbrellas. Most of the tables were full, and the restaurant had a quaint and cozy feeling.

Food/Price: Feeling very hungry and eager to sample the extensive sushi selections, my companion and I each ordered a full plate of sushi. We started with the Nakashita Salad (6 euros, picture on left), which was an exotic and delightful mix of different types of seaweed, tofu, sprouts, and lettuce. For our entrees, we went with the Tabla Nakashita (20 euros, far platter in picture on right), which contained nine pieces of sushi and sashimi and one roll, and the Mecca of all sushi platters, the Chef’s Choice, Omakase (35 euros, close platter in picture on right). The Omakase contained a total of 21 pieces of sushi and sashimi, with a roll mixed in as well. Often known as the most inventive and varied dish of sushi, I was a bit disappointed with the lack of cuts of different fish: there were two pieces each of salmon, tuna, whitefish, and yellowtail, and multiple doubles of types of sashimi. Nevertheless, the quality made up for the relative lack of variety. A couple of the pieces had a discrete yet tastable garnish on the top of the fish, which suited the taste well. The cuts of both sushi and sashimi were generous, and the fish was very fresh. While I do not normally enjoy crab, the roll containing alternating pieces of tuna and salmon mixed with avocado and crab was equally tasty. Additional rolls that were ordered were the Spicy Maguro and Hot Philadelphia. The former was served hot and contained a mix of spicy tuna and avocado, and the latter can best be described as… fried glory. Apart from being deep fried on the outside, it contained primarily shrimp and cream cheese. Not the authentic sushi I usually crave, but a guilty and very tasty pleasure.

Bottom Line: Nakashita is one of those restaurants that one has to actively seek in order to come across, and seek I did. I highly recommend it for sushi lovers looking for a relaxed and authentic Japanese meal. The sushi chefs are also enjoyable to talk to, as they were immersed in deep conversation with those sitting at the bar.

Ratings:

Food: 8

Ambiance: 7.75

Cost: 35 euros