A year ago now I was totally emerged in the preparation of our trip to Japan. It is always troubling for me how time just seems to fly by and I can’t believe that I STILL haven’t managed to share with you all the places that I so enjoyed on our trip although this is the last one. I find that Japan is a truly remarkable country and even though I read, watched and listened to so much information before traveling there, there are still so many things that catch you totally off guard and cause you to fall in love with the city. So many experiences that you know and are aware that are unique to this country and when you fly back home they will comfortably find a home in your memory. One of those flavors, textures is that of tempura. We are used to a much thicker coat when we have tempura outside of Japan, but if you eat a high standard tempura restaurant in Japan you will find that the coating used is so thin, crisp, light and marvelous that it will have you wishing to memorize it.
We were recommend to go to Fukamachi, a one-Michelin star restaurant in Tokyo. It is located in the quieter area of Ginza and it is a very small restaurant, like most in Japan, so be sure to book in advance. Our hotel was kind enough to handle all of our booking requests before our trip.
Fukamachi is run by the head chef and he has two helpers by his side. The restaurant is small and unpretentious because here the only aim is good tempura. We had the lunch time set menu, there are a few to choose from and the price was very reasonable. These are some pictures of our fish and vegetable tempura.
I would not leave Japan without having tasted true tempura. Tempura will never be the same from that day on.
Nowadays, words such as ecological, renewable energy and recycled have all become part of our daily vocabulary, but it still isn’t an easy task to actually fin ecological products or sustainable homes. That is why I find it so admirable when people take the time to think about the Earth and about their ecological print. Eneko Atxa had a vision once of building a sustainable restaurant which could live in harmony with its surroundings, running on renewable energy, collecting rain water, working with local farmers and producers just to name a few of the ways that he has made Azurmendi an example to follow. Azurmendi fits in beautifully with the surrounding landscape and the actual view from the restaurant is relaxing with rolling hills and lush green countryside. Although it is a short drive from Bilbao’s city center, you feel that you are in a whole new place, you are in Enkeo’s dream. One of the things that I liked best was the actual gastronomic experience which is a combination of taste, surprise and subtle beauty. From the moment you enter the restaurant, you automatically switch to relax-mode. The soothing sound of running water combined with the greenery makes it a perfect place to be greeted. This isn’t your have a seat and dine kind of place. Here, before you actually sit at the table, you are guided around the restaurant where you enjoy a variety of appetizers. We were firstly taken to the upper part where the vegetable garden and greenhouse are. I am a fool for a vegetable garden. There is just something about them that I love and as you can imagine, I fell in love with these. As one of the cooks explains the vision behind Azurmendi we had a cocktail prepared in situ in the greenhouse and from a small tree we took our first aperitif. Continue reading →