When I go to a very original, unique place which is anything but your typical cookie cutter joint, the difficulty lies in how to transmit the experience, but I will give it a go 😉 Behind Nakeima there is a vision, a know-how and an urge to just have fun. Located at 54 Meléndez Valdés Street near Argüelles in what must have been your typical Spanish bar. I have even taken the liberty of envisioning the former place with a slot machine. The venue is long and narrow with a couple of high tables, and when I say a couple I literally mean two. On the left is the long bar where most of the people sit overlooking the prep area where all the magic occurs. The decoration is minimal with some fun “chalk”paintings on the wall, a tv screen which a flower screen saver display, and behind the bar you will find work essentials, a bookcase full of cookbooks, a display of knives and not much else. But one does not venture to Nakeima for interior design purposes. It takes effort to dine here. You might be surprised by this comment but if you plan to have lunch or dinner at Nakeima you must be prepared to endure the two hour wait before opening time. You get there, get in line, cross your fingers and hope to be one of the lucky twenty. If you plan to have dinner at nine o’clock, you must be there by seven. This is a good time to catch up on your kindle reading, FB, Twitter, improve your Candy Crash score or what have you. At eight thirty, the doors open, much like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and your name and your party’s number are written down. When there are twenty future dinners on the list, the person goes back in and now you have precisely thirty minutes to go have a beer before the doors reopen and you can finally go in. If you are not there at nine o’clock on the dot and your name is called out you lose your place. Sniff Sniff.
Once prompted on your stool, you have to choose what to order. There is a menu written on the wall but it is there merely for decorative purposes as the menu varies greatly. One of the guys tells you what is on the menu that day and you decide.
They offer quite a bit of wine variety from Spanish whites and reds to some French, cava, champagne, manzanillas… and there are a lot you can order by the glass.
I have to say that we practically ate the entire menu and absolutely everything was delicious. You would try a steamed bun and think, I would eat a dozen.
Pork cheek dumpling
Cuttlefish bao – what a soft tender bun!
Horse mackerel tiradito with turnip noodles. From all the dishes this is the one I liked least.
Jellyfish tartar with scallops, algae, and fish eggs. I thought I wouldn’t like this, loved it!
If you are sitting at the bar you get to see them prepare the nigiri which is a lot of fun since they are just having a blast. They make it seem so easy!
“Rubio” fish with mango, chiles and coriander
Sea bream with passion fruit and smoked soy sauce
Cuttlefish with a touch of blow torch and ginger and garlic aioli sauce
Garlic shrimp with Japanese mayo and deep fried onions. Died and gone to heaven! Didn’t get a chance to take a pic because we gobbled them up too quickly.
Iberian pork pancetta with a touch of the blow torch, tomatoes, red onion and coriander
Veal with a touch of the blow torch, quail egg and shrimp whiskers
You might think by now that we would be full, but no, we kept on munching.
Noodle Ramen with a slow cooked egg, duck confit and pigs hooves broth.
Fried pig’s ears with kimchi. Heavenly and trust me I didn’t want to order pig’s ears.
Shoulder ham, pineapple and herbs curry
For dessert, there is only one to choose from so it is either that or the highway. We had it. Smoked black sheep ice-cream with kiwi and rosemary. The taste at first is OK but there is something about it that makes you want to eat more.
Let me finish off by showing you some more pictures of the place.
The only thing I regret is not having gone before!!!
54 Meléndez Valdes Steet
Average price if you don’t eat absolutely everything on the menu is around 50 euros per person.