maître d’ - Koy Shunka, Spain
Written by Poonperm Paitayawat
Intersecting the spirit of Japan with prime Spanish produce, chef Hideki Matsuhisa welcomes a gastro-centric crowd at Barcelona’s upscale Japanese kappo restaurant Koy Shunka. El Bulli’s Ferran Adrià is one of the regulars.
Koy Shunka– ‘intense aroma of season’ – is Matsuhisa’s second restaurant in Barcelona’s renowned Gothic Quarter and has recently been awarded one Michelin star. From the obscure entrance, signalled by a plastic sushi display, diners are led into the sleek world of Japanese aesthetics and taste. The chefs’ station in the centrepiece kitchen is surrounded by a U-shaped hinoki-wood dining counter. On the periphery of the kitchen are islands of high tables more convenient for group dining.
Across the two degustation menus – Koy €74 and Gastronomico €110 – and with seafood as his focus, Matsuhisa combines the traditional with the avant-garde – premium Spanish produce is treated with a modern Japanese emphasis. The tableware is state-of-the-art porcelain, which epitomises the pride of Japan.
From the menu, Tataki de Bogavante is a sensation of taste: lobster is lightly cooked at a vigilantly controlled heat, the flesh firming up to delightful prawn-like springiness; the sweetness of the flesh intensifying. Sashimi en Japón features raw fish slices on a sunken platter that resembles a map of Japan. The assortment, which includes scorched and blanched cuttlefish, fatty tuna with oil-marinated summer truffle, and crimson, hay-smoked bonito is pure luxury. The custom-made platter on which the sashimi is served is itself a sight to behold. The home-brewed soy sauce takes the position of Hokkaido – Japan’s northernmost island.
The cuisine at Koy Shunka captures the playfulness of the heritage past and the optimistic future. This is, according to none other than Ferran Adrià, “nourishment of the soul”.
Percebes, por favor?
One of Spain’s most highly-rated delicacies is a rare kind of shellfish called percebes (‘goose barnacles’). The tube-shaped crustaceans cling to the deadly rocky cliffs along the Galician coastline. The stalk-like flesh is soft, sweet, and juicy and contrasts indulgently with its natural iodine-rich aroma. Locals say that the stronger the waves, the better the goose barnacles taste. Accordingly, collecting goose barnacles is no easy task. Percebeiros – or ‘men of goose barnacles’ – risk their lives battling against treacherous waves to scrape these wondrous delicacies off the slippery rocks. The danger element also explains the high price tag. At Koy Shunka, goose barnacles are gently poached and served alongside simmered shellfish with milky citris dressing and yuzu jelly noodles.