8.5 | 3.5 | 2 | 2.5
- Unique combination of Spanish food with Japaneses sensitivities
- Creative food that is still delicious
- Chef Tetsuo Azuma-san can speak English, which makes for some awesome conversation on the counter
- Wine pairing was good, but not as great as the food
- Kohada, Tomato Bread, Shiso Leaf
- Kagoshima Langoustine, Pistachio, Cumin, Coriander
- Paella (Seasonal Variation)
TL;DR – You don’t normally go to Kyoto to eat Spanish food but you should. Aca 1° is serving some of the best Spanish food in the world, Spain included.
Clever. Brilliant. Ingenious.
Those were the three words that kept running through my mind during the course of my meal in Kyoto. This should come at no surprise though. Kyoto is, after all, the birthplace of kaiseki – the highest form of Japanese cuisine.
But what does come as a surprise is the fact that this was not kaiseki – not even close. Why was I, in arguably the capital of Japanese kaiseki cuisine, eating Spanish food? While Spanish cuisine with Japanese influences seems to defy logic, perhaps what defies logic even more is why no one has ever really done it before.
The bounties of the world’s greatest seafood.
After all, there are similarities between both countries and their approaches to food – the ability to coax out the beauty of a single ingredient, the bounties of the world’s greatest seafood and the pursuit of umami above all else (the Spanish did introduce tomatoes and the king of ham to the world).
Some of the world’s best French and Italian restaurants are in Japan, so where are the Spanish restaurants? It’s the Spanish, not the French or Italian, who is currently leading European gastronomy. In 2016, three out of the top 10 World’s 50 Best Restaurants were Spanish, with no other country having more than one restaurant. There are more Spanish restaurants in the top 20 of the 2017 OAD Lists (Overall and Gourmet Casual) than any other country.
Chef Tetsuo Azuma-san
The incredibly talented Chef Tetsuo Azuma-san set about changing that, using his training at a Michelin star restaurant in Spain and his Japanese sensitivities to create Aca 1°. The result is not just food that’s delicious but food that is creative and harmonious; distinctively Spanish, but with Japanese ingredients and techniques that elevate the cuisine as a whole.
Using Kohada, a very traditional Japanese Fish, to replace Anchovy in the very traditional Spanish tapas Tostada De Anchoa (Anchovy on Toast). Clever
Pairing the ultimate Japanese mushroom (Matsutake) and Spanish cured meat to create Mushroom and Ham soup. Brilliant
Spanish Paella served as the traditional Japanese Kaiseki Gohan course. Ingenious
Azuma-san’s goal is to increase the awareness of Spanish cuisine, and to inspire the next generation of Spanish chefs in Japan. His goal is that little bit closer having earned one Michelin Star in 2017, just after three years of opening.
It was also the first Michelin Star for Spanish cuisine in the Kansai region, and whether this will be a springboard for the rest of Japan – only time will tell. What’s certain though is that Aca 1° isn’t just serving some of the best Spanish cuisine in Japan. No, what you’ll find here is some of the best Spanish cuisine in the world.
Hokkaido Oyster, Tomato Soup, Jamon Serrano Foam (8/10)
Kohada, Tomato Bread, Shiso Leaf (8.5/10)
Kagoshima Langoustine, Pistachio, Cumin, Coriander (9/10)
Binchotan Grilled Langoustine Head (9.5/10)
Binchotan Grilled Anago (Saltwater Eel), Sherry Wine Vinegar (6/10)
Matsutake, Mushroom, Ham Soup (8/10)
Wagyu Ichibo and Fillet (7.5/10)
Revealing the pièce de résistance.
Seafood Paella. Kegani Crab (Hokkaido), Squid, Scallop. Served with Sansho Aioli (9/10)
Almond, Vanilla Gelato, Milk Pudding, Chestnuts (7.5/10)
Chocolate, Olive Oil, Salt. Apple Chip (7/10)
So fellow foodies, what’s the best Spanish food you’ve ever had?