I must confess that I cherish this big love for Japan and all its asianess. It’s my ultimate dream destination and it’s definitely on my plans visit it soon. So while I’m daydreaming, I entertain myself discovering Japan in Lisbon and it was about time for me to cover this subject. Bear in mind that this topic will not be about sushi though, otherwise I’d have to mention two of my favorite japanese Chefs in Portugal: Tomo Kanazawa and Paulo Morais. By the way, I still didn’t recover from Umai restaurant closing in 2014 and I still have to pay a visit to Kanazawa, with enough time to enjoy the experience and my best outfit (yes, there’s a dress code). I’ll talk about the other side of Japanese flavors sitting on the other sushi fence. So, getting back to business, below you’ll discover more about what I consider to be the most japanese restaurants in Lisbon. Be ready to find the real meaning of umami.
The LX Japanese tavern | Tasca Kome
Yuko Yamamoto is the lady Chef behind Tasca Kome. Before opening it, she used to be dedicated teaching others, in her own house, how to put flavor and authenticity into japanese dishes. Gotta tell you that I visited this restaurant for the first time right after its opening in 2013, but only after massive fails because it was always full (good for them, annoying as hell for me!). But since then, I can’t avoid ordering everytime the same – do you know those signature dishes you can’t run away from? That’s what you’ll find here. With their daily menus at lunch, it’s the only time I let loose and follow their suggestions.
So, like a good food control freak inspector I am – the disease where you find yourself controlling every bits of food that comes to the table – the must order courses are Takoyaki (octopus balls), salmon Zukedon (marinated salmon with sushi rice and ikura / 13,50€), mackerel ceviche japanese style (with miso and ginger / 12,00€) and Kakuni (pork belly with soy and sake sauce / 7,00€).
For dessert, there are two rivals always fighting for my approval: the parmesan cheesecake and the green tea chiffon cake (served with azuki bean paste and green tea ice cream) – both divine! They have other chiffon cake flavors besides green tea. This is the first place I’ve found a similar option to kasutera sponge cake (from Nagasaki region) after Castella do Paulo tea room closing in Terreiro do Paço.
Don’t miss: The excellent matcha cappuccino at the end with the dessert, done the traditional way.
Hot tip: Their lunch menu costing 9,50€ per person including miso soup, salad and the fish or meat for main with a rice bowl.
Average price: 20,00€ – 25,00€ per person (excluding drinks)
Contact: (+351) 211 340 117
Address: Rua da Madalena, 57, Lisboa
Opened from Wednesday to Sunday (12:00pm to 3:00pm, 7:00pm to 11:00pm) / Closed on Monday and Tuesday
Ramen, Amen | KOPPU – Ramen Concept Food
It was late already when I decided to chose KOPPU for dinner. My stomach starting screaming (Ramen, ramen, ramen…) and the only option to silent that inner crazy voice was by pleasing it. First things first, who doesn’t love a big bowl of soup full of nutrients, big punch flavors and an endless kick-ass broth? Hello, I’m Ramen!
As I said, I was starving so had to ask for starters from which I recommend the Gwa Bao Chashu Chicken – the perfectly white fluffy clouds with marinated roasted chicken and tonkotsu sauce. Plus the pork and vegetables Gyozas.
I specifically asked for the Tonkotsu Ramen (pork bone broth) and I wasn’t lucky but they were planning to have it soon (maybe they have it now). So, changed direction by going with the Chashu Pork Shoyu Ramen (the main differences from the Tonkotsu are the noodles, pak choi and the pork broth) and Tan Tan Chicken Ramen (chicken broth based).
Dessert was skipped since it’s definitely a challenge to beat a ramen when it’s good! My stomach was way to comfortable for that. Didn’t want to put it in a hard position.
Don’t miss: If you never had Genmaicha tea (green tea combined with roasted brown rice) or colloquially known as popcorn tea (you’ll understand why), this is a brilliant opportunity to do it! My absolute favorite tea!
Hot tip: The best time is right at 7:00pm until 8:00pm or from 11:00pm onwards. But in case you’re stubborn and decide to go between that timeframe, be ready to wait and hear told you so.
Average price: 15,00€ – 20,00€ per person (excluding drinks)
Contact: (+351) 213 900 043
Address: Rua de Gustavo de Matos Sequeira, 30, Príncipe Real, 1200, Lisboa
Opened from Tuesday to Saturday at 7:00pm until 12:00am (Friday and Saturday until 1:00am) / Closed on Sunday and Monday
First lady has arrived | Miss Jappa
Anna Lins is the super woman behind Miss Jappa and I met her for the first time at Umai when she and Paulo Morais were kicking ass together as the power couple they are in the kitchen. So, when she opened this restaurant was immediately included in my must-try list. What I like most in her approach to food is the unexpected route she takes by redesigning a distinct path between tradition and modernity.
With its big red sign right in the entrance, it’s impossible to miss this restaurant.
Once you get in, you’ll meet a trendy vibe within a coziness soul. The menu is divided through the following categories: Japanese Junk Food, Old Timers, Atarashi – New Timers, Sushi Bar and Hot.
In my childhood, there was a game we used to play called Quantos queres (Fortune Teller in english) and in the Japanese Junk Food section you’ll find a tasty version of it – go for it to start your meal!
From the Old Timers, the Gyoza Trio will give you a bit of everything – chicken, shrimp and veggies!
In the Atarashi – New Timers and for a bit of fun and alcohol, I recommend the Gunkan Russian Roulette where whoever gets the chili pepper must drink the sake shot – good luck! The Tartar in a Box (tuna and salmon tartar with shrimp chips and sweet chili sauce) is also recommendable. From the Hot chapter the Pork collar steamed buns with soy, mirin and ginger sauce accompanied with sautéed mushrooms as well as the sautéed spinach, pumpkin, shitake powder and egg Ramen are absolutely unmissable.
Don’t miss: The black sesame crème brûlée for dessert as well as their lunch menu on weekdays starting at 10,00€ per person including starter, main and drink.
Hot tip: Order a cocktail to go with the food since Mr. Cocktail himself – the one and only Dave Palethorpe – was responsible for putting together all the sake one can handle.
Average price: 18,00€ – 20,00€ per person (excluding drinks)
Contact: (+351) 211 379 763
Address: Praça do Príncipe Real, 5A, Lisboa
Opened from Tuesday to Sunday at 12:30pm until 3:30pm / 7:30pm until 12:00am (Friday and Saturday from 7:30pm to 1:00am) / Closed on Monday
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