Sake (Japanese: 酒, [sake] SAH-kay) is an alcoholic beverage obtained after the fermentation of rice and is one of the most important and best-known drinks in Japan. The technique of making sake was introduced from China shortly after the cultivation of rice in the third century and became a fundamental part of Japanese culture in the Nara period in the 7th century. An edict of the imperial court conferred its sacred and noble character, integrating it into certain Shinto religious rites. The type of Sake varies depending on different factors such as the type of rice, the time of fermentation, the level of grain polishing and whether it has added alcohol or not. The degree of grain polishing is the factor that determines the quality of the sake, as the more polished, the higher the quality. There are two fundamental types of sake and they are differentiated between those with added alcohol known as Jozo-shu and those without added alcohol, the Jumai-shu which is the most valued of sakes.
Armed with this knowledge, my ever-amazing photographer and best friend Anouska and I, set out on a voyage of Sake discovery. The new Arume, chef and local Esporles boy, Tomeu Marti’s third offering in Palma, opened its doors on the 26th of February and offers ten different types of this delectable liquor. Novices to this fine Japanese tradition we didn’t know where to begin. However, Erica, our wonderful and knowledgeable waitress kicked us off with a beautiful earthenware bottle of the delicious Sugoi. It was surprisingly light in both flavour and strength, with a delicately dry note on the palate. As Erica explained to us, this is the entry level Sake for newbees such as ourselves and I can heartily recommend it as a good starting point.
The new restaurant, sister to Arume in Mercat Santa Catalina which many of you will already be familiar with, oozes cool. We could have been anywhere in the world, New York, London, Stockholm and it wouldn’t have been out of place. The music, with its distinctly Ibiza vibe was just the right volume so that it added atmosphere but didn’t intrude on conversation. Of the fifty or so covers, not one was empty, with several different sittings occurring whilst we were there. And it was a really mixed crowd. Spanish, ex-pats, tourists in groups, couples and some flying solo, all came together to enjoy what was offered up.
We elected to sit at the open kitchen bar in order to really be in the thick of things and we weren’t disappointed by the theatricality of the location. The sheer speed and precision with which every dish was served was a real delight to behold. And the freshness of the ingredients had our mouths watering before we had even tasted a morsel. I have not seen tuna and salmon that was so fresh that it could have been fished out of the ocean right from beneath our toes moments earlier. And the taste, my god the taste!
We started off with a selection of Dim Sum and Gyozas presented stacked in a traditional Japanese steamer. The squid ink and green curry gyozas drizzled with citrus mayonnaise were delicious, but nothing could prepare us for the layer beneath. The Duck and Foie dim sum just melted in our mouths. Small parcels of absolute creamy perfection. And so it continued, layer by tasty layer.
Next up was the fabulously presented Sashimi of Beef Tataki with Yuzu and Truffle served on beautiful iridescent blue ceramic plates. Once again the team of chefs had surpassed themselves in making sure that the truffle was present but didn’t overpower the beef as so often can be the case. Every mouthful we were being invited to was a literal taste sensation. After the Tataki came Tuna Nigiri served with pickled ginger and a wasabi paste, which was, unsurprisingly, absolutely delightful. All the while though I was eyeing up what was happening in front of me and I couldn’t help but cheekily request a portion. What arrived was my favourite of the night – two tuna and avocado rolls with a mango and chilli vinaigrette. What was so eye catching about the dish and had prompted my request was that, unlike normal rolls, where the tuna and avocado are encased inside the roll, thesewere inside out and were wrapped in fine slivers of the most vibrantly green avocado, sliced so thinly by the finest Japanese steel knives called Globals, which I proudly have in my own kitchen thanks to my mum and dad’s cook shop. They veritably popped against the blue of the dishware and when they say that looks can be deceiving this certainly was not the case here. They tasted as good as they looked, if not better.
By this stage belts were getting a little tighter and we were ready to call time, however Erica wouldn’t hear of us leaving until we had tried one of the desserts. Not being much of a dessert fan myself I begrudgingly agreed (it took all of three seconds) and I am forever grateful that I did. The bowl of white chocolate, mango and curry was simply divine and the perfect combination of sweet, sour and savoury making it more an additional course rather than a traditional dessert – perfect for me. Erica paired this with a plum Sake that complimented the differing flavours and really pulled the mango to the forefront.
Arume was a genuinely delightful restaurant, as were all the staff who looked after us so attentively. I loved the atmosphere, the music, the décor. Whilst it’s certainly not on the cheap eats list I felt the prices reflected the quality and styling. I have a feeling that there will soon be waiting queues out the door and bookings will be a necessity. Well done to Tomeu and his team of dedicated chefs for making this an absolute winner!
Review by Victoria Pearce
Photos Credit: Anouska Foss
Palma De Mallorca, Spain 07013
+34 971 76 58 49