Japan in Barcelona. The old, the new and the now
Clara De Nadal Trias - November, 19, 2020

On one occasion, the renowned Catalan chef Ferrán Adrià said: "In a couple of generations, sushi will be as Spanish as croquetas". And he was not wrong, especially in the Catalan capital.

It was around the year 1975 when Yoshi Yamashita, creator and current owner of the Japanese hotel group Yamashita, landed in Barcelona with a two-year contract from the Spanish Judo Federation. At that time there was no Japanese culture, much less oriental restaurants, but Yoshi was so in love with the city, its climate, its culture and above all its food, that he wanted to settle down definitively and two years later (1977) he switched judo for a kitchen and opened the doors of Yamadori (Carrer d'Aribau, 68).

Thanks to this first incursion, Yoshi and his family got the city of Barcelona to know sushi, sashimi, tempura and many other typical dishes of Japanese cuisine... And little by little, the growing demand and good reviews made them start looking for new alternatives, which finally took shape with new openings years later with Yashima in 1989,in 1991, Teppan-Yaki in 2002 and finally their own Yashima catering.

 

 

After the opening of Yamadori, a year later (1978) he also opened Tokyo Sushi in the city. Today, still located on Carrer Comtal number 20, it is, according to some Japanese food experts such as Roger Ortuño -creator of the blog comerjapones.com-, the first authentic sushi restaurant in the city "since Yamadori was originally a bar and not a restaurant", in the words of Ortuño for the magazine Vanity Fair.

In any case, and independently of who started before, the truth is that Japanese cuisine is a reflection of its own culture wherever it goes, and today the Catalan capital has a wide variety of Japanese restaurants run by native, foreign and also local chefs, who bring the culture of the Japanese country closer to the palate.

Here is a selection of the five references in Barcelona today, Itadakimasu! (Japanese word that describes the appreciation for the food we are about to eat).

Yashima

Avinguda de Josep Tarradellas, 145. Reservations: +34 934 19 06 97

Welcome to Yashima, the second restaurant of the Yamashita Group in the city open since 1989. Here they always use seasonal products, emphasizing the Kaiseki tasting menu, with which you will not only taste different typical Japanese dishes, but you will feel the authentic Japanese culture, traditions and craftsmanship with Teppan-yaki (Japanese style grill), three Kotatsu (rooms with tatami) and a Zashiki (private) for special celebrations. Star dishes: Butter fish sashimi with fresh wasabi, nigiri selection and all its meat selections. Average ticket: 55 euros.

Koy Shunka

Carrer d'en Copons, 7. Reservations: 934 12 79 39

If you're looking for a little bit of exquisiteness, this modern Japanese restaurant whose name translated means something like "intense aroma of the season", is your first stop. Opened since 2008 and led by chef Hideki Matsuhisa, in Koy Shunka you can taste Japanese dishes on the grill, prepared in full view of the diner. It obtained its first Michelin Star in 2013 and is a refined and improved version of its other well-known restaurant and seafood shop, Skunka. Average ticket: Koy menu 95 euros and (G)astro menu 139 euros (both without drinks).

99 Sushi Bar

Carrer del Tenor Viñas, 4. Reservations: +34 936 39 62 17

After its success in the capital of Madrid, 99 Sushi Bar opened in Barcelona in 2016. Eating here is not cheap, but the quality of the select product and haute cuisine they serve is well worth the price. And it is that in this restaurant they do not treat the Japanese kitchen of the traditional way, but also they experience the kitchen fusion, that grants to all its plates a special and differential touch. Star dishes: Tiger prawn tempura with spicy sauce, quail egg nigiri and truffle or the gyoza of wild boar meat and chestnuts Average ticket: 70 euros.

 

Majide

Carrer dels Tallers, 48. Reservations: +34 930 16 37 81

Located in the Raval neighborhood, Majide is already the fifth and most recent restaurant of the Koy Shunka group. Once again, the prestigious chef Hideki Matsuhisa surprises us by expanding his gastronomic offerings with typical Japanese dishes and some off-course delicacies. If you enjoy watching cooking, I recommend that you ask for places 14 and 16, strategically located at the bar in front of the Sushiman. Star dishes: Tofu stuffed with eel, squid sashimi, nigiri of soasado tuna or the spoon with bull, fresh wasabi and salmon roe. Average ticket: 45 euros.

Sato i Tanaka

Carrer del Bruc, 79. Reservations: +34 938 09 92 74

There are many regulars who think that in Sato i Tanaka they serve the best niguiris in town, always with the best quality product and elaboration before the eyes of the diner. The two bars run by the two Itamae (Japanese head chef) Ryuta Sato and Aki Tanaka, form a classic Japanese tavern for a maximum of 15 guests. Star dishes: Tuna nigiri, salmon nigiri, eel nigiri, scallop nigiri, razor nigiri, mullet nigiri, red shrimp nigiri, sea snail nigiri... And so on and so forth. Average ticket: 35 euros.

Por Clara De Nadal Trias
@claradenadaltrias

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