Tag Archives: toro

Wakasa

13 Dec

Place: Wakasa

Address: C/ Nàpols, 347

Meal Eaten: Dinner

Background: I ended my last post hinting that I would soon divulge the location of the best sushi I ate during my time in Barcelona. I had always wanted to eat at Wakasa after reading highly positive reviews on TripAdvisor, reviews that were confirmed by my recent gem-of-a-finding “The Sushi Barcelona Bible“. This informative guide highlights the best 13 sushi restaurants in the city, calling Wakasa a ‘diamond in the rough’ and mentioning its classification as Barcelona’s #1 sushi restaurant according to the prestigious Time Out magazine series. After calling many times over the past month for a reservation (a must-do considering the restaurant consists of 5 tables), I was lucky enough to be granted an early seating this past Saturday.

Setting: As mentioned, Wakasa only has around 5 tables, all booked well in advance and throughout the evening. It is located in the Northern part of Gracia in a relatively quiet neighborhood and is truly a diamond in the rough: the exterior is nondescript and strikes passer-bys as a tavern or wood cabin, while the interior is cramped and exceedingly casual. The restaurant is family owned and operated, with a man working the sushi bar and his wife functioning as the restaurant’s only waitress.

Food/Price: If the decor of the restaurant is not exactly eye candy, then how am I claiming it to be the best sushi in Barcelona you ask? Simple answer: the food. Upon arrival, diners are presented with a menu containing various sushi options as well as two white boards listing the day’s special appetizer and non-sushi options, mostly served tapas style. I was sure to order from both, selecting the assortment of nigiri and maki roll (33 euros; you are allowed to choose the cuts of fish you want in this dish which is a nice plus) as well as the cold kimchi udon noodles (around 7 euros) and tuna avocado sashimi (around 6 euros). I also ordered what was supposed to be a house special, the Wakasa Maki roll (13.50 euros), which consisted of eel and avocado, drizzled in a thick semi-sweet sauce. The sashimi dish was the first indication that the meal was going to be a special one: the tuna was the freshest I had in Barcelona, mixed equal parts with ample amounts of avocado and topped with nori and sesame seeds. The kimchi udon noodles contained just the right amount of kimchi taste (a spicy pickled cabbage common in Korean cooking) and the noodles themselves were full of flavor, unlike other noodle dishes I had at Japanese restaurants in Barcelona that appeared to be frozen or packaged. Finally, the assortment of sushi rivaled some of the top sushi places I have eaten at in my hometown of New York City: the toro practically melted in my mouth, and the eel was smooth and flavorful. Additionally, the two seared pieces of fish I ordered, also a house specialty, provided a nice contrast to the slabs of Barcelona’s freshest raw fish. The salmon maki was as good as any I have ever had, and while the Wakasa Maki roll may have been the meal’s only disappointment, the superb quality of the other items undoubtedly affected my judgment.

Bottom Line: Wakasa is an absolute must for sushi affectionados spending time in Barcelona. Its low-key, tiny setting and personable service serve to make it a classic ‘sleeper’ pick, but the word is out and reservations are hard to come by!

Ratings:

Food: 9

Ambiance: 6

Price: 45 euros

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Spotlight on Shunka: Toro and Uni Dish

12 Dec

Way back in September, I wrote about Shunka, arguably recognized as the best sushi restaurant in Barcelona. The restaurant is Japanese-run, and sushi and non-sushi dishes alike are served fresh and with authentic flavor. As my time studying in Barcelona nears its end, I felt compelled to write about what undoubtedly was my favorite dish at any restaurant during my four month stay: the toro and uni combination dish at Shunka.

Shunka’s toro and uni dish combines two exquisite Japanese delicacies, namely, the belly of tuna with the eggs of sea urchin. Both items are considered to be among the tastiest and highest quality offered at Japanese restaurants, with their prices reflecting this sentiment. Shunka offers a plate of around 8 healthy cuts of toro, topped with generous amounts of uni and garnished with seaweed and sesame seeds. A sweetish soy sauce accompanies the dish. I just about fell in love with this dish as soon as I tried it – the large portions of toro melted in my mouth and were full of flavor, and the freshness of the uni provided the perfect smooth contrast. Having spent many summers diving for sea urchins in my native country of Greece and enjoying their contents mere minutes later, I am well aware of the taste of the freshest of sea urchins, and Shunka’s offerings are top notch. The color of the eggs are the exact shade of orange that I became accustomed to during my diving in the neighboring Mediterranean Sea.

At 19.60 euros, the toro and uni dish is priced comparably to other entrées at Shunka. While other options may offer more variety and quantity, I would suggest asking for a bowl of white rice to accompany this delicious combination and add more substance. I highly recommend trying this dish at Shunka (it can be found as one of the ‘special’ menu choices listed on the first page of the menu) and letting me know your thoughts!

 

Here’s a cliffhanger: In the next day, I will write about the sushi meal that I enjoyed last night, which I would call the best sushi I have eaten in Barcelona.