Some experiences cannot be erased from the memory, even the most insignificant ones, such as the typical shot of Japanese variety show when someone says that he saw a foreigner who put sugar in green sencha tea, and everyone bursts into laughter. Maybe I should say this in past tense because this memory of mine is forty years old. Nowadays we have matcha cappuccino and various sweet shakes and green tea lemonades, so there is probably no more reason to laugh at the idea of putting a teaspoon of sugar in sencha. Even so, it made me laugh when recently in Spain at a Japanese restaurant called Ginza they gave me a Chinese metal pot of genmaicha green tea and served for it a plain white coffee cup with a bag of sugar. I had to take a picture of it. It was in La Coruna. From the arcades of the stone houses we looked at the María Pita Square. There is probably no need to evaluate at length what kind of food they had there. The coffee mug told in advance what was to come – the sushi was edible, but I wouldn’t go there a second time, if only because there are seventeen other Japanese restaurants in the city. I wrote about one of them, the Chirashi restaurant, last year, and the others I plan to visit sometimes soon. At least some.
Just a few steps from the Ginza restaurant with a lunch menu for 15 Euros drinks included, we discovered restaurant named Omakasewith a lunch omakase menu for 65 Euros without drinks. We went there a few days later to celebrate my birthday. They didn’t serve green tea in the Omakase, but if they did, they would definitely know how to serve and how to do using the best tea leaves available. Neither the owners nor the chef and his assistant had ever been to Japan, but they knew very well what is the best style and elegance. They tol dme that they have acquired their knowledge in businesses in London and Barcelona. They had things well studied and deeply looked over. What’s more, they added their own creativity and weren’t afraid to let Spanish elements flourish here and there. But what should have been Japanese, was indeed Japanese. Of course, they touched my own believes and I felt what I want the guests to experience in my restaurant, namely that the experience is extraordinary. To take it worth visit. Meaning that one does not mind to pay even the big bill for that experience. All in happy feeling.
Miyabi is not an omakase sushi restaurant where you leave it up to the chef to decide for you. With omakase, you cannot simply place an order of your choice. Omakase is from the verb “makaseru” and means to give self to the chef’s hands. Fully. In Japan, you often don’t even know how much money it will end up costing you. In omakase sushi restaurants, the chef works in front of the guests and serves each piece, as soon as he shapes it in his hands, on a stand in front of the eager eater. The master must also be a bit of an actor skilled in conversation. He must be professional enough to entertain guests and work at the same time. This requires not only talent, but also long career. Ten years, maybe more. Plus you have to have plenty of great seafood available.
In Miyabi, we simply don’t have the wonderful opportunity to use fish bought directly at the port at the fish market. La Coruna situated by the cold Atlantic, where even the rivers provide suitable conditions for instance for sardines, is simply a sashimi/sushi paradise. It was very enjoyable that the master chef could talk engagingly about the fish he was serving. He knew very well which fish were swimming around the sea coast in those weeks. He obviously thought carefully about his menu and so we eagerly tasted the local suzuki – lobina, tai – dorada, aji – jurel, saba – caballa and hiramasa – pez limón. Maguro – the rojo tuna was from the Mediterranean estuary and his otoro was great. The chef turned the katsuo tuna into tataki and seared the fillet with burning piece of coal even in front of us. I liked that he started his menu with nanbanzuke, because something slightly sour to start with is good. Nanbanzuke are small fish fried and then put in a vinegar dressing. Here, of course, it was sardines, because they are the pride of Galicia – the local region. Lest I forget, there was salmon and hotate in the range of goodies served. I was very excited when the chef cut the mussels, because they were tall white pieces. But he created a slice for each piece of sushi so thin that the hotate had no chance to make a significant impression. Unfortunately. As a last dish we got white misoshiru with two very tasty clams. The soup is called sopa here and was served in a ceramic bowl with a spoon. I used chopsticks, also so that they wouldn’t lie unused because fingers are more suitable for eating sushi. That’s what the chef also recommended. As we feasted, the assistant chef prepared mochi in front of us. I watched him closely and was surprised that he was putting in so little bean shiroan. When it came to dessert, I was surprised that inside it was not shiroan, but melted white chocolate. And very good chocolate. Their mochi was great and I thought I would love to steal the recipe. Maybe I’ll go to Omakase one more time and try to ask if they would tell me the secret of the preparation. It would be a great gift for Miyabi. I was impressed that the mochi batter wasn’t hot and sticky at all and everything went very smoothly. Elegantly. In front of the guests.
Omakasesushibar.es in La Coruna has received the Michelin “Biby”, or Bib Gourmand award, and the owners are aiming for their first Michelin star. I will be important for them to have enough guests. Hope they will make their dreams come true. They set the restaurant standard very high. Hopefully the nearby Ginza restaurant, which looks like a Japanese restaurant, but serves coffee mugs for their green tea adding a bag with sugar, can possibly learn something from them.
Style and elegance – this is a creed that has a much deeper meaning than we often admit. Style and elegance – that is the translation of the name Miyabi.