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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ikibana: Culinary Love Triangle


What do you get when you mix cuisine from Japan and Brazil in the foodie dreamscape that is Barcelona?

... An earthly manifestation of heaven. Not heaven from the Bible, no. Gastronomic heaven. It's that place where you go when you eat something divine, forget where you are, and audibly say Mmmmm... and/or Nomnom... You know it, and if you don't...well, you need to!
Ikibana has two locations (and different menus). We visited the one on Paral.lel.

I apologize in advance for the poor-quality photos. I don't generally walk around with my camera (I look enough like a tourist without one). It's especially embarrassing to take pictures while inside a restaurant. I am 007 of the iPhone camera; I must be stealthy.

What's the story? In the beginning, Japanese immigration was a means for Brazil's wealthy to hire cheap workers for coffee plantations. In fact, according to the ever-so-scrupulous Wikipedia, "Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan."

From the propaganda the restaurant has circulated (a less nitty-gritty, more romantic and innocent telling if there ever was one), we all have Kasato Maru to thank for this out-of-this-world experience. Kasato Maru was the ship which brought the first Japanese immigrants to Brazil in 1908.

On a side note: According to my source (a slightly shady sea distance calculator), sailing from Tokyo to Santos would be a 11,376 nautical mile journey. For those of us who don't speak pirate, that would be 47.4 days at sea. I'm willing to postulate that it likely took longer in 1908.

Anyway, with these passengers came cargo...all those goodies for making Japanese food! Japanese ingredients were introduced to Brazil, fueling what has become a culinary cultural revolution, Nippon-Brazilian cuisine.

Will didn't want his picture taken, so he may not be too happy about it being on here. Shhhh, don't tell!!!
Everything about this restaurant is amazing.

When I say everything, I mean it.

I have never been to a restaurant like this one. The outside has huge windows which are decorated by flowers of all different colors, along with huge displays of roots (pretty ones!). This is ironic, as my Japanese friend tells me that the name means flower. I tried Google translate to make sure, but I don't read Japanese that was a flop. Where was I? Oh, yes! The inside of the space is even more beautiful than the outside. It nearly took my breath away. You can see some of the decoration in the picture above. They also have a terrace now, but I would insist on sitting inside. Even the music was interesting - mix/mash of covers of American songs and some jazz perhaps.

Ikibana is the perfect place for a night on the town. It's a "fancy dinner" type of restaurant. Nice jeans are okay, but the people wearing t-shirts definitely looked out of place. It would be a great place to take a business colleague from out of town or family who comes to visit once they get tired of tapas.

Well, if they get tired of traditional tapas anyway. Ikibana does have tapas, but they aren't your mamacita's kind.

We tried the coxinha (8,50 euros). They are Brazilian croquettes (croquetas - my favorite tapa!), and they come with an absolutely amazing Asian-inspired sweet sauce. I wanted to horde all of the sauce for myself, but I did share some with Will. These things even tasted great with soy sauce.

Of course, we had to wash it addition to our mango mojitos (0 euros, see caption below), we also ordered a bottle of water (2,00 euros) and had some white wine (C. Chaplis on the receipt, 12,00 euros for two glasses). It was some of the best white wine I have had as of yet. Okay, so I haven't had a lot of white wine, but it was worth the price.

Why, hello there little cocktail. These mango mojitos were our "invitation" drinks. That means free. I love free.
Will was excited to order some Brazilian steak, but we found out that the other location was the one with steak (the menu and site for our location was under construction, my bad for assuming they had the same know what assuming does...). That suited me just fine, because there was plenty of sushi. Mmmmmm, suuuushi (think Homer Simpson when he imagines donuts).
Mmmmmm....delectable morsels

We ordered different rolls from three different sections of the menu. They were a little on the small side, but oh-so-delicious:

 ("Type of sushi" followed by the actual name of the roll, in bold)
Uramaki: Rice-covered Japanese Seaweed leaf Roll filled with assorted ingredients
  • Ikibana Uramaki: ...King Prawn Tempura with Avocado and Mayonnaise, sprinkled with Roe
  • 13,80 euros, 8 pieces
Gunkans: Rice balls wrapped in Salmon sashimi with different fillings
  • Gunkan Unagi: …filled with Eel
  • 8,00 euros
Ikibana Maki: Rice rolls wrapped in Japanese Seaweed sheets
  • Hokai: ...Sake Maki in a Tempura batter with chopped Salmon,Cream Cheese and Tare sauce
  • 12,50 euros 
Each of these rolls was, well, tantalizing. We only intended to have two, but we couldn't stop. The Hokai was ordered at the suggestion of the waitress, and it did not disappoint.

If you are in the area, definitely give Ikibana a try. If you're not in the area, then get here!

When you do try Ikibana (not if), leave a comment to let me know what you think! I'd love to hear opinions on some of the other selections as well.

Ikibana   -    Av. del Paral-lel, 148 - 93 4244648

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  1. I love this, Kimber. And the title makes it sound oh-so-naughty. LOL.

    I wish I could see it in person! It sounds really neat!

    I'm glad you are having fun in Europe!

    1. Thanks, Selena! It's a super fun restaurant. :)

  2. Had my birthday dinner there yesterday... what an amazing place +food

  3. Hey, Abs! Glad to hear you liked it. We just visited recently too. One thing we tried was a dessert, like a fruit fondue tree. It was awesome!


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