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Restaurant review: Nagai

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Baked fish with an almond crust.
Baked fish with an almond crust.
Baked fish with an almond crust.

IBIZA – Intelligent, playful fusion cuisine at Nagai as east meets west and contemporary meets classic in the cosy surroundings of a 250-year old finca.

Any gastronome visiting Ibiza in recent years will no doubt have noticed the explosion in restaurants offering sushi with a seemingly mandatory mediterranean twist. The white isle’s food scene can be a fickle place and sushi is certainly all the rage. More often than not one senses an arbitrary clash of cultures as opposed to a genuine food philosophy behind Ibiza’s menus yet, at Nagai, just the opposite is the case.

chopsticksHead chef Reina Nagai and the team have created a food experience rooted in an intelligent and playful exploration of eastern and western flavours perfectly complemented by the understated elegance of the restaurant’s interior. Food is served on handmade Japanese crockery and Japanese art and kimonos adorn the walls yet the locale undoubtedly has a Mediterranean feel; a 250 year old finca located at km9.5 on the San Juan road.

We began with a mixture of Nagai signature dishes and some recent additions to an extensive menu that includes several options for vegan diners. The dorada and beetroot carpaccio is a delicate dish with a playful combination of textures, while the cerviche Nagai has striking accents of ginger and is served complete with spoon for the guilty pleasure of finishing off the delightful dressing. Nagai is one of the few restaurants in Ibiza serving top quality Mediterranean mackerel and the marinated dish was light but characteristically meaty with a hint of coriander left on the palate to finish. Perhaps the restaurant’s most famous dish, the dragon roll, did not disappoint, the tempura centre providing an alluring contrast in texture and releasing an explosion of aroma.

Dorada and beetroot carpaccio.
Dorada and beetroot carpaccio.

The main course was of an equally high standard. Baked fish with an almond crust and a separate side dish of stir-fry endamame beans, cashew nuts and local wild asparagus. The baked fish was a witty journey across the globe. Initially presented with a classy take on fish and chips, the scent of rosemary soon transports us to warmer mediterranean climes, while the addition of daikon, a Japanese staple, adds a distinctly Asian essence. This is fusion cuisine how it’s supposed to be: intelligent and engaging.

To finish, we share the millefeuille de manzana, a subtle mixture of apple, honey and cinnamon. The dessert encapsulates much of the food we eat at Nagai, delicate but hearty. A quality wine menu is on offer but it’s the sake that caught our attention. Nagai has developed a strong relationship with several Japanese brewers and a great variety of sakes can be sampled. Highly recommended but book ahead. The terrace is justifiably busy throughout the summer.

For reservations call +34 971 80 73 08 or email nagai.ibiza@gmail.com