Coroto, Asian Caribbean
The way I see it, Coroto is setting out to single-handedly address the lack of crunch in Japanese and Peruvian food. They’ve definitely spotted a niche. What if you like the fish and the rice but yearn for texture?
Coroto, run and owned by two Venezuelan brothers: Alejandro in the front and Fernando in the kitchen, set out to turn things on their head. Alejandro used to have two Japanese restaurants back home in Venezuela. Fernando meanwhile had a craft beer label. Both their businesses became untenable in the unstable political situation, so they came to Barcelona. Here they opened up their restaurant inauspiciously just as Covid struck down the world. The brothers, though young, are on a first-name basis with hard times, so they navigated 2020 with its many downs.
Their bright restaurant painted a storybook elephant grey has a wall filled with colourful prints and a long bench with turquoise pillows. At the back is a glass-fronted kitchen, always a good idea when preparing highly perishable raw fish.
Alejandro has invited me, so I leave it to him to order for Jenny and I. Coroto is the name that they have given the flat crunchy maize base that they set their fish tartar or fried fish on. It’s crunchy and sturdy, deflecting attempts to be snapped in half or approached with a knife. No. The coroto at Coroto has to be picked up to and bitten into, hanging over the plate, if one of the toppings tries to make a break for it.
We try the tuna coroto (5.5€), topped with pickled onion and deep-fried shredded leek and the one with fried squid and a wedge of lime (5.75€). The salmon tartar (9.95€) comes with cubes of avocado and crispy fried wonton skins to scoop it up with. The crunch factor will not be reigned in at Coroto. It’s everywhere.
Even, it turns out, in the rolls which are firmly in the fusion category. Expect mango, cream cheese even banana in the Roraima roll (10.9€) we try. It’s subtle. However, I don’t even notice banana being more distracted by the tempura langoustine strewn generously on top. Fernando is nailing the rice; it’s the right degree of tender and with a bite. Our other roll has cream cheese in it, which normally makes me cringe. But in the spirit of things, fun, imaginative recipes and in the context of all that has come before, I am not as averse to it as I would normally be.
They navigate the price to serving ratio expertly, as is apparent from the most local customers they have eating that day.
As for the crunch? Yes. Nik Sharma of A Brown Table came up with 4 food mouthfeel categories. Chewers, Crunchers, Suckers and Smooshers. It took me a glance to identify myself—definitely a Cruncher.