Kiro Sushi: ‘Edomae’ Style Sushi in La Rioja
Spaniard Felix Jimenez Martinez is an extraordinary sushi master from an unusual place. He runs and owns Kiro sushi in Logroño, the capital of Spain’s La Rioja region, more known for its wine than Japanese cuisine. Yet the 10 seats sushi counter restaurant is one of the best ‘sushi-yas’ you will find in Europe.
Felix was born in Alfaro, a small town 80 km from Logroño. After studying gastronomy, he started his career at a Japanese restaurant in Mallorca before going to work in Tokyo. For Felix, who has been fascinated with Japan since his childhood, experience at Suzako restaurant in Tokyo was life changing. He still talks about his ‘sensei’, sushi master Yoshikawa Takumasa, as about someone who has impacted his life forever. Dressed in the traditional white Japanese chef’s outfit, Felix looks and acts like someone who has been teleported straight from Japan. Since he opened Kiro sushi 3 years ago, all his life turns around this restaurant, above which he also lives. Everything here, the knives, the plates and even many ingredients such as rice or water to cook the rice come from Japan.
Felix is following the traditional ‘Edomae’ style sushi-making school, which was born when Tokyo was still called Edo. Originally, sushi was fast-food sold in the bay of Tokyo (thus the second part of the word, ‘mae’, which means in front). As there were no fridges at that time, vendors were doing everything to preserve the fish and lengthen its shelf life by marinating, simmering, grilling or smoking it. For Felix, such methods were not too far from home as the cuisine of La Rioja is known for smoking and grilling.
Most of the fish at Kiro comes from Spain, which is blessed with some of the world’s best fish and seafood. Even if Logroño is far from the sea, Felix gets the best fish delivered from Galicia, Huelva or Barcelona in less than 24 hours after the catch. Except for the squid, very little of ‘neta’ (sushi toppings) is served at Kiro sushi fresh. In order to bring out umami, tuna here is aged for 2 weeks, while swordfish can be aged for up to 50 days.
Just like at the best sushi restaurants in Tokyo, dining at Kiro sushi is a one man’s show, where all the attention is focused on the sushi master and his hands. It’s almost like a ritual, that begins with grating fresh wasabi root, then slicing and preparing the sushi toppings. ‘Gari’, pickled ginger, is placed in front of you and one by one, ‘nigiris’ (sushi) are made. Felix begins the service with a trio of lean, medium fatty and fatty tuna that melts in your mouth. Then he continues with bright red boiled Carabinero shrimp, plump and fatty marinated mackerel, slightly flamed salmon, raw baby shrimp and smoked bonito. The meal is finished with traditional eel nigiri and small piece of ‘tamagoyaki’ (omelette) for the dessert. At first sight very simple, high-end sushi-making requires years of practice and expertise, which Felix Jimenez Martinez has definitely mastered.
Calle María Teresa Gil de Gárate, 24
26002 Logroño, La Rioja,Spain
+34 941 12 31 45www.kirosushi.es/en/contact/
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