My two favourite Japanese restaurants in London are Dinings and Yashin (in that order). Both are generous with the citrus and easy on the soy. I know that the executive chef at Dinings (Masaki Sugisaki ) worked at Nobu and that Nobu Matsuhisa was heavily influenced by Nikkei cuisine (a symbiosis of Japanese and Peruvian food). So it is with very high expectations that I walk into Pakta which specializes in high-end Nikkei Cuisine, on a sunny Saturday afternoon. That and it’s taken me over a month (as usual) to get a table at this Adria brothers spot (no it’s not your imagination, they do seem to own every restaurant worth going to in Barcelona).
There are two prix fix menus to choose from: the Fujiyama (€90 VAT included) and the Machu Picchu (€120 VAT included). We opt for the latter and begin with the Honzen Ryori. Which is an elaborately arranged tray of 5 small dishes the like of ‘Avocado tofu with sea urchin, yuzu and wasabi’ and ‘sweet corn cream with caviar’. There are different spoons for different dishes and an order in which the 5 dishes should be eaten. There are so many instructions to follow that our server uses a baton to point to the dishes as she explains what’s what, what’s first and with what – oh and don’t eat the tuft of leaves which is just a tuft of leaves.
The fish on offer that lunch is spectacular. The sliver of tuna on the nigiri is the colour of pressed pomegranate juice. The rice it sits on is the best sushi rice I have ever had. The ‘Tuna te-maki’ is so so good and so so…small (curses!). The “sea bass ceviche” – well how would the establishment feel about bowl slurping because the spoon they have provided me with is doggedly refusing to pick up those last dregs? The warm ceviche with its spicy citrus sauce – divine. Less successful; greasy overly salty mushroom tempura, ho-hum chicken “Anticucho”.
The dessert is camouflaged. We have to be told not to eat the branches except for the branches we are supposed to eat; those made of black sesame tuiles and decorated with puffs of yogurt cake. It’s an expensive afternoon but one that is well worth it. The tough reservation slots and limitation to prix fix menus takes out any hope for spontaneity. However, on my way out I spot Espai Kru and I am not entirely sure if they are part of the Adria group or not but the waitress tells me we can get some similar-ish dishes up there; a la carte. So that’s where I am going next…
El Poble Sec