A Long And Winding (Restaurant) Road | Nagai, Santa Eulària des Riu, Ibiza, Spain
When we were planning our trip to Ibiza, we envisaged eating Spanish food al fresco by the sea, the waves crashing beneath us and the obligatory chill out music in the background. Oh we did this, but we also tried some Japanese food at one of the most renowned restaurants on the island – Nagai.
This Japanese fusion restaurant is on a dark, quiet and remote highway nicknamed ‘restaurant road’, on the east side of the island and owned by the same person who also looks after Casa Corazon where we were staying (post on that to follow.)
The road stretches out for 15km and houses another nine restaurants with huge expanses of nothing between each one. We didn’t have enough time to get to any of the others, not even Bambuddha ‘next door’ (actually up the road and pictured above). Looking at the picture gallery on their website now we are full of regret about that decision but we were just so exhausted from the wedding we went to the night before.
A majority of Nagai’s seating is outside surrounding a beautifully lit tree in the centre. Contemporary Japanese art adorns the walls, their metallic paint reflecting the flickering candlelight. With Jamiroquai playing in the background (not the actual band unfortunately) things were pretty chilled and atmospheric.
From the road side during the day the building looks even cooler, stunning Geisha art painted by local artist Finbarr Notte emblazoned all over the white walls. The entrance greets you with wafts of lemongrass, mint, tomatoes, zucchinis, shiso and basil from their kitchen garden
We gazed at Nagai’s extensive menu for what felt like an eternity and got nowhere, even when a waitress gave us some of her suggestions we were no nearer to coming to a decision. We were so shattered that we just needed someone to order for us, or maybe a set menu of the favourite dishes would have been handy.
We kicked off with the fresh and gentle Salmon and avocado tartare with orange peel (€14/£10) and next up was the star of the show, the Dragon Roll (€21/£15). On paper this is not our cup of tea – a mix of eel, tempura prawn and avocado finished with teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds, creating a warm crunchy sushi roll.
Eel is certainly not up there with our favourite foods but it really works in the impressive looking dish, most importantly, the seaweed didn’t take over thus allowing all the other flavours to shine through. We loved it! This was the first time that we enjoyed sushi rolls, ever. Oh we’ve tried and we’ve tried but just can’t get on with them, for me the seaweed is just so overpowering
After battling over decision-making we went for a couple of mains to possibly share. The Steamed white fish in Thai herbs with coconut and lemon sauce (€26/£19) and the Nagai fried rice deluxe with karaage chicken (€18/£13). The steamed fish became mine and only mine. I needed something light yet invigorating, you can’t go wrong with lemongrass and coconut and crunchy green veg. Ade took the karaage chicken – crunchy with a very moist almost creamy centre.
Cocktail wise, the list was almost as long as the food, if in doubt, go for the signature cocktails. Ade was meant to go for a Nagai Negroni (€10/£7.50) mixed with sake but accidentally ordered the regular one instead. The bartender just so happened to be from Venice so knocked up a real good ‘un. My spiced Rose Lemongrass (€10/£7.50) was fragrant and zesty, a great pre-dinner pick me up.
The Ginger panna cotta with orange sauce (€9/£6.50) was an obvious choice for me, with the perfect amount of wobble and level of ginger. Ade went for the more indulgent option of the White semifreddo (€9/£6.50) – white chocolate and raspberry with toffee bits. The white chocolate pieces, vanilla fudge and frozen raspberry added texture to the smooth and creamy semifreddo. In case you’re wondering, the pastry chef is Italian and works alongside the Japanese chef – a mixture of styles and cultures that turn out some incredibly imaginative desserts.
There is a lot of passion going on behind the scenes at Nagai (no, not like that!) Crockery is bought back from Nagoya in Japan during their annual trip where the staff go seeking out new ideas and chef Reina looks at menu additions. A little quote from them explains their vision: ‘We are looking for a balance between the quality and style of traditional Japan, the appreciation for fine things for which Italy is famous for and the kind of lifestyle free of taboos and conditioning that Ibiza stands for’.
Nothing beats eating out on holiday – even with midges biting away at your ankles, cats hovering around under your table with big pleading eyes, everything just seems to taste more better, more amplified. Service was great and the Japanese cuisine far better than our expectations – we will certainly be thinking about that Dragon Roll for a long, long time…
Santa Eulària des Riu, Ibiza, Spain
Telephone: +34 971 807 308 / +34 638 314 880
For take-away and delivery: Call, Whatsapp or message: +34 638314880
Book a table online
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday: 8pm – 2am
Sundays: Closed. Variable Winter Dates
We ate as guests of Nagai, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.