Photo courtesy Carlota Akaneya
Grill your own meat, seafood and vegetables on a charcoal 'hibachi' at Japanese restaurant in Barcelona, Carlota Akaneya
Sushi has been big in Barcelona for several years. Given the Spanish penchant for spanking fresh fish, it’s no wonder it works well as a concept here, but the panoply of the rest of Japanese kitchen has remained mysteriously elusive. There are a couple of Izakaya (the Japanese take on the pub), but where are the Soba and Ramen bars, the Yakitori and the Sukiyaki joints? Enter Carlota Akaneya, Barcelona’s first authentic Hibachi grill, which is fuelled by a particular type of white charcoal called binchotan, giving anything grilled above it a distinctive sweet and smoky taste. Trust me, it is as good as it sounds, especially with buttery lozenges of pure Kobe beef thrown on top of it.
Hibachi was traditionally used as a heating device, first made from wood lined with clay and later using ceramics and metal. A similar device used specifically for cooking was called shichirin, but it is thought hibachi stuck in North America and Europe because it was easier to pronounce. Either way, it’s a wonderfully social style of barbecuing and Carlota Akaneya does it extremely well, offering several different-sized tables, round and oblong, each with a hibachi grill in its centre. Like their Japanese counterparts, these are lined with ceramic and the charcoal is brought to the table to smoulder away while you choose from an array of ingredients to cook yourself: fresh vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces, seafood and fish, meat in all its guises including perfect squares of the densely marbled Kobe beef from the Wagyū breed of cattle. It’s priced considerably higher than local cuts, but if you’ve not tried it, it’s worth pushing the boat out for a taste of it here. Using the tongs provided, place it on the grill for about 30 seconds, turn and revel in the sensation of it literally melting to nothing on your tongue.
Carlota Akaneya, Pintor Fortuny 32 (Raval). Tel. 93 302 7768,
www.carlotaakaneya.com. Open daily 1-4pm, 7.30-11.30pm