Grove and Baduzzi head chef Ben Bayly continues his Barcelona dining report and enjoys one of his best-ever meals at Pakta, a Japanese Peruvian restaurant.
Head Chef: Jorge Muñoz and Kyoko Ii
The restaurant one line: A specialised restaurant featuring Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine, described as Nikkei cuisine.
Beer on hand: Estrella Damm
What makes this restaurant unique?
Named as one of the 20 most beautiful restaurants in the world, it comes as no surprise that the first thing that hits you upon entering Pakta is the amazing décor. The restaurant, which is small in size but exceptionally well laid out, is covered from floor to ceiling in traditional Peruvian weaving looms and thread which, with lights beaming from behind, looks absolutely stunning.
What were the inspirational highlights?
Over the space of more than three hours, I consumed a 33-course degustation menu with sake matches. It speaks volumes about Pakta’s ability to manage portions and balance dishes that I walked away from that meal feeling neither bloated, nor drunk. The number of tasty and interesting ingredients that made up every component of my 33 courses was simply mind-boggling and ensured that I enjoyed one of my greatest ever meals at Pakta.
Lessons for New Zealand restaurants
Too many New Zealand restaurants have attempted – and failed – at fusion cuisine. The common result is a forced combination of cuisines which simply do not merge. Whilst the combination of Peruvian and Japanese cuisines may not sound like a natural combination, it is the historical product of Japanese migration to Peru in the late 1800s. Accordingly, this fused cuisine has had more than 100 years to develop and, without effort or force, Pakta offers a refined selection of this specialised cuisine.
I left feeling as if I had truly been brought into the fold of this exceptional restaurant. The tightly bonded staff – best described as a restaurant family – invite you into their secure and comfortable world, ensuring you have an intimate experience. The staff, who seemingly work, live and holiday together, have an overwhelming knowledge of every element of the meal and restaurant. Every year Pakta shuts its doors for several weeks, providing staff with an opportunity to undertake intensive training. The entire team, including the waiting staff, have visited Japan and Peru in an effort to gain a greater insight into the two culinary cultures which are the basis for this specialised fusion restaurant.
Check out the first part in Ben's article on Bodega 1900.
This beautiful recipe, inspired by Pakta, would make a great little appetiser for your next dinner party.
600g beef eye fillet, from the middle of the fillet
250ml soy sauce
30g roasted almonds
1 granny smith apple, peeled and grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
20g chives, finely chopped
Salad leaves and edamame beans, to serve
- Season the beef with salt and pepper and rub with the sunflower oil. In a very hot pan sear the beef on all sides until caramelised then set aside.
- Mix together the soy sauce and honey, then mix in the almonds, apple, garlic and chives.
- Place the beef in the dressing and marinate for 2 days. Keep covered with plastic wrap and make sure the beef is submerged.
- To serve, take the beef out of the marinade and set aside. Pass the marinade through a fine sieve, keeping the liquid and discarding the rest.
- Slice the beef as thinly as you can with a sharp knife and spread over a flat plate, carpaccio style.
- Spoon the marinade over the beef to dress it. Finish the dish with some salad leaves and some freshly cooked edamame beans.
Ben Bayly, head chef of The Grove and Baduzzi, travelled to Barcelona with Estrella Damm - a major backer of Ferran Adria's BulliPedia. Check out Ben's peek into the future of food as he visits Ferran Adria's inspirational el BulliLab and read his dining report on Bodega 1900, Adria's latest restaurant.