I have all these posts backed up about spots to eat in allll of Basque Country. In an effort to get to churning them out, I've decided to start with perhaps what is one of the least 'typical'. Shibui in Bilbao is located in the Abando neighborhood of Bilbao. Its façade is deceiving; empty, small, perhaps resembling an avant-garde clothing store more than what it is—a fusion sushi restaurant that swooped in from Barcelona and made a big bet on design.
The menu runs the gamut from sushi to hot noodle dishes to urimaki to gindara nanban amazu an kake (black cod coated with nanban-zu dressing). Or the monkfish liver, above, which I have no idea why we ordered, though it was good enough.
The interior design, by Susana Ocaña, combines avant garde contemporary with a Japanese sensibility, consciously giving the food a run for its money in a fight for your attention. Iron, wood, and ropes are the main elements of design, taking their cue from the Spanish pavillion in the Expo at Shanghai, the work of architect Benedetta Tagliabue.
So, does the food live up to the decoration? I am so far from an expert on oriental cuisines....in fact, it is probably my weakest point. However, the star dishes are solid, among which include tuna belly tartar with caviar, spicy prawns (Ebichiri), eggplant with red miso noodles and minced turkey (Nasu no torimiso dengaku) and Hotate Kushiyaki, the scallop skewers. The sushi, served along a custom made, chunky wooden bar, is also solid...if perhaps not quite exciting enough to drown out the outspoken decor.
Gardoki Kardenalaren Kalea, 6