Can Kenji Japanese shares its entrance facade with that of an elderly woman who has a windowsill full of spindly long-necked plants. The incongruity of her window sill and the crinkly beige Noren of a modern Japanese Izakaya is alleviated somewhat by Can Kenji Japanese ‘s potted plant, which has grown lanky in solidarity with its neighbours.
On the inside, at the entrance there are some defunct wooden cinema chairs, these come in useful when the place fills up and you need to wait. And it always fills up. Without a reservation, I end up sitting across from the kitchen on a stool on two occasions. Across from the kitchen is my favourite place to sit anyhow, especially if it is a working kitchen with ordinary Ikea Tupperware used for storing prepped ingredients and chefs actually cooking rather than pulling plastic pouches out of the sous vide machine.
It’s a small restaurant. Beige and slate coloured, with bench tables that seat two. The kitchen has high shelves with a glut of different shaped bowls nestled together. There are a lot of small space ‘solutions’ to be found, like a tray balancing on a dozen 1.5 litre bottles of Mirin and Soy Sauce. In the equally small kitchen, four chefs work clean and keep their elbows in.
There is sushi on offer (it’s fine) but I am more interested in the tuna tataki with guacamole (€9.80) and the soy and sake marinated mackerel (€7.80), a fish I love but cook rarely because I have to cohabit with the smell for 3 days. It’s all very Harumi Kurihara (a Japanese housewife who became a cookery writer).
My suggestion for lunch – it’s always lunch with me it seems – is to go for one of the menus. Something like the 3 plates with a half portion of sushi will do (15.80). This will get you a block of pea tofu, soft eggplant with soba noodles in a cold yuzu broth, teriyaki salmon (with an incongruent quenelle of cold mash – no idea how or why that ended up on the plate?), the 1/2 portion of sushi and a pinch of dessert a few slices of kiwi and pineapple or 3 ice-cube sized strawberry agar agar jellies.
On one visit, there are four different cuts of tuna as a special. On another, there are oysters by the piece (or as a pair with a glass of Cava) dressed with ponzu jelly and a shiso vinaigrette. The man beside me orders that. The man beside me seems very satisfied.
Both times I’ve been there, I’ve seen Japanese families with their children eating lunch. That’s the all-pervasive feel of the place, unequivocal family style Japanese. Delicious, with the exception of the cold mash.
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Carrer del Rosselló, 325