Mallorca has quite a few Japanese restaurants – mainly in the capital, Palma – as well as a few serving the highly recommended trendy Japanese/Peruvian fusion cuisine. Even our nearest town of Manacor has at least a couple of places serving Japanese food – as yet untried by us.
However, we have experienced a different style of Japanese dining in our favourite café in Manacor, El Palau. For the past few years – outside the main holiday season – the friendly owner Nofre Brunet Pascual and his small team have been offering a Temaki Sushi Sashimi experience each Friday night. For our first Japanese dining experience at El Palau (described below), we took my brother Steve, who had had several authentic culinary experiences during a visit to Japan to see his wife’s son (who was living there at the time).
The ambience is relaxed and Nofre told us that we would be eating in the way a Japanese family eats at home, rather than in a restaurant. He wanted us to feel as though we were dining in his home. Thankfully we didn’t have to sit on the floor – as my brother had done when dining on his visit to Japan (after such a generous spread of food at El Palau we would not have been able to get up again!).
Nofre has a Japanese friend: a young woman who taught him some of the things she learnt in the kitchen of her grandmother and about traditional authentic Japanese cuisine. He explained that the dinner comprised three ‘acts’, the first of which consisted of some delicious morsels to be shared between the three of us, using the chopsticks provided. Sharing a number of dishes – to try several different things – has become one of my favourite ways to eat, so this suited me perfectly.
The second ‘act’ was partly a DIY one: a generous bowl of rice, plate of small square nori leaves, and a large platter of prepared vegetables, Japanese salad, rolled fine omelette, tuna, prawns, octopus, marinated and smoked salmon, were placed in the middle of the table. Nofre explained how we should tackle the task in front of us, first using the small individual wooden ‘paddles’ provided to spread rice across a nori leaf and then adding one type of fish and our choice of vegetables before wrapping the parcel, dipping it in soy sauce and eating it. Hey, doesn’t that sound easy?
I’m afraid we probably didn’t look very elegant eating this – so there are no photos of soy sauce dribbling down our chins. But it was a delicious feast, enthusiastically devoured. Nofre went around the tables, replenishing nori leaves and platter ingredients as necessary.
And to end it all . . .
Our final ‘act’ was the dessert, which comprised an unusual ‘bridge’ between the savoury dishes and the mango pudding that followed, consisting of three balls of tofu and a grape skewered on a stick.
For 2018, this Japanese feast costs just 26€ a head (excluding drinks) and is certainly worth the money – for the cuisine, authenticity, fun, and Nofre’s hospitality. Be sure to go there feeling hungry…
El Palau Cafe’s Temaki Sushi Sashimi evenings are for a maximum of around 30 people and it’s essential to book as this Friday-night treat is a popular one – especially among the younger people of Manacor who don’t need a daily fix of sobrasada!
These weekly Japanese dinners take place every Friday from February 2nd to April 20th, 2018.
Book by phoning +34 654 048 474 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
©Jan Edwards 2015 (updated 2018)