Tag Archives: expensive

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

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