Just as Italian food goes way beyond pizza and pasta, so Japanese food is about much more than sushi. Try some of these places for a refreshing glimpse beyond the California roll.
Una Mica de Japó (C/ Muntaner 114, tel. 620 040 461) is a tiny, semi-subterranean bar that has no exterior charm whatsoever but push on and go inside anyway because it serves up a truly fantastic donburi: basically a stew of almost anything—fish, seafood, vegetables—served over rice in a large bowl and which promises to fill you up for around €10. Try katsudon (with battered and deep-fried pork, egg, and pickled vegetables) or gyudon (stewed beef and onions). Their excellent bento boxes are also great value but be warned that there is no sushi, no sashimi, no coffee, no sake and barely any seating either. It’s fabulous for a quick, authentic lunch but not one for a romantic night out.
Shibui (Comte d’Urgell 272, tel. 93 321 9004, www.shibuirestaurantes.com) a sopisticated, minimalist restaurant with excellent sunomono, a popular Japanese starter of thinly sliced raw vegetables, seaweed and seafood, marinated in rice vinegar (su) for several hours, pickling them slightly (€5). Shibui also offers karaage, which is a similar idea to tempura but of Chinese origin—here they do it with chicken wings, marinaded and then dipped in flour and flash fried. Delectable. (€7.50)
Yashima (Av. Josep Tarradellas 145, tel. 93 419 0697, www.yamashitagroup.com) has traditional low seating and is the second of this group’s seven-strong chain in Barcelona. It specialises in sukiyaki and teppanyaki, sukiyaki being a kind of Japanese take on fondu: a large bowl of broth with mirin and soy bubbles away at the centre of the table for you to dip and cook little snippets of finely sliced beef and vegetables. For teppanyaki, it is the chef who takes centre stage with the diners sat around him as he performs culinary acrobatics at a smoking hot iron griddle. Great for a group meal or celebration splurge—but be warned that your hair and clothes will reek of fried food afterwards.