Most people who visit Barcelona, forgets that aside from Gaudi’s amazing architecture and Picasso ‘s art, there are also other gems that this city has to offer. One is Tickets and the other is PAKTA , the Michelin *restaurants run by Albert Adria, the brother of the world famous Chef Ferran Adria of El Bulli .
While the gastronomy of Barcelona goes far beyond La Bouqueria food market on Las Ramblas, in fact there are 27 Michelin * in Barcelona and let’s not forget that three of the world’s ten best restaurants are located in Spain. In the city of Barcelona you can experience some of the finest culinary exponents from the five continents by visiting Tickets and Pakta.
At Tickets, tapas are innovative and thought provoking. The decor is playful and theatrical with great energy in the air, evident with the enthusiastic waiters under the helm of Xavier Alba, the director de salon. This is a restaurant with a concept,it is just not a meal, it is a show. Most courses are one or two bites and presentation of each dish is spectacular, service is exceptional, knowledgeable and slick . The food appears like you are participant of a theatre or a Vaudeville circus. As each dish is presented, some are actually assembled in front of you at your table, each ingredients, it’s origin and even down to how it should be eaten , as a shot, or on a spoon or with fingers is explained .
Get ready to taste the Liquid olives, an explosive symphony of olive oil in your mouth or the Edible pearls.
The Blackcurrant churros with raifori cream were savoury meringue like churros. Nigiri of tuna and salmon roe followed and what was supposed to be japanese rice here , was more like a delicate mini airbag shell in the Nigiri and marshmallow’ish in the maki roll. Both delivered the taste of sushi but with an extra mouth feel. Ceviche with shrimps on a crunchy base similar to a tortilla was superb. Basil air waffles were light but with a subtle and somewhat icy burst of fresh basil, a perfect palate cleanser before our next course.
A trip around the world followed in a selection of oysters .To Rio, with a passion fruit caipirinha , to Yucatan, with red recado and pork rind and Bangkok with a Thai sauce. Each delivered a continuous burst of flavours in your mouth.
A carpaccio of funghi porcine with mushroom spaghetti were true Spain on a plate as were the Octopus with pickled piparra.
Going east , we tasted Cannibal Chicken , as the name suggest was cleverly served skewered on a strip of bone and with a sweet & sticky Chinese barbecue flavour. This was followed by a mouth watering spicy lobster , served with its own steam buns.
Our last dish, took us back to Spain, with a silky foie gras, fig compote to be eaten in one shot with a shot of Fino.
For desserts, you are whisked to the Dessert room, in what used to be 410c, the cocktail bar where we enjoyed many great cocktails during our last visit here. So back to the fantasy world, the room is decorated like Willy Wonka dream garden.What may look like ornaments are actually edible, like the rose that greets you , when you are seated, the center of which is collected by means of a tiny golden spoon , hanging on the Bonsai tree at your table and is an explosion of Turkish delight. Your own chef assembles the dessert at your table from the cheese cake to the icecream cone. Everything was superb.
PAKTA on the other hand, is restrained, minimalist. Here you can enjoy Nikeei cuisine, born from a fusion of Japanese and variant of Peru. Here, there sin’t any foam or gels or molecular gastronomy of any sort. It is more traditional but most of all, it is focused on pure clean flavours and indigenous ingredients.
The decor is pure Peruvian with floor to ceiling spools of brightly coloured yarns stretched across the beams. It is a small space with a dozen or so tables and with seating around the bar area as well.
Two menus are on offer , the Fujiyama or the Machu-Picchu. We opted for the first one.
We started our meal sipping a very fragrant yet delicious rose petal martini and the first course is an intense visual experience trying to identify what’s on your plate but like Tickets , help is at hand and charming head waiter explains in details as to each dish and even how it should be eaten and in what order.
The Honzen Ryori, consisted of Corn surinagashi ,Tamago-dofu, tosazu sauce with nori and salmon roe ,Horse mackerel with cucumber, gari and sumiso sauce,Octopus with olluco, edamame and kimchi,Kumquats with "leche de tigre" jelly, Daikon with “ají amarillo, umeboshi and rocoto.
You could definitely see the Japanese influence both in flavours and textures, set curd like dofu, pickled fruit and veg, sweet and sour tastes.
Market fish were usuzukuri with yuzukosho , nigiri with kombu, Tuna tartare with yucca chips,Sea Bass ceviche with fresh green almond “leche de tigre”. Again , as previously, it was a novelty and with some favourites but then again , I am a great lover of sushi and raw fish.
The Causas were Floral causa of tuna with “acevichada” mayonnaise ,Fried causa with chicken and huacatay,Suckling pig Xiao Long Bao with "ají limo"oil,Pork jowl fried “sanguchito” with pickles, Cancha chulpi soba with “ají amarillo leche de tigre”,Grilled chicken “Anticucho”,Rock fish with “escabeche” nikkei sauce.
This course was my favourite and I loved every single morsel I ate. Clear winners were the pork jowl, chicken anticucho and the rock fish.
Desserts of Honzen Ryori, were Peach with burnt miso and fermented coconut sorbet with momokochan. Both delicious and with interesting textures.
It was difficult to describe this meal as there were so many elements that were new to me but I am glad that I got to try Nikeei Cuisine and look forward to tasting it again in the future.
Av. Del Paral. Lel 164
Carrer de Lleida 5