I first went to Sao Paulo in 2009 to attend Paladar Cozinha do Brasil which anyone interested in Brazilian food should go to — it is totally fascinating. I then stayed on with my new found cousin to explore the city and try a few more restaurants including Jun Sakamoto where I learned that a top Japanese chef does not expect you to add anything to his sushi — he will brush the pieces with as much soy sauce as he thinks fit and all you have to do is pop the morsel into your mouth. That meal was the closest I got to knowing what it is like to eat in Japan, until that is I went to Urasawa in LA. And the reason why there is amazing Japanese food in Sao Paulo is because it has the largest Japanese community outside Japan, with many living and working in Liberdade where I went this time with the very talented Danilo Nakamura, both to explore the quartier and have lunch at Kidoairaku, a tiny place with the entrance plastered with posters of the owner’s gorgeous brother as a female dancer — apparently he is very famous.
As was the coxinha, a scrumptious potato croquette filled with chicken which I had watched the cooks at Casa Garabed make when I ate there.
We shouldn’t have really been so greedy but both were irresistible, and as we shared one of each it wasn’t too bad and we didn’t really spoil our appetite for the delicious lunch awaiting us and which I let Danilo choose given that he knows the restaurant and that it is his food!
And everything he chose was delicious, well almost! The tuna sashimi was very fresh and very generous.
We also ordered the anchovy teishoku which our neighbours were having. It was a much bigger anchovy than any I had seen but this didn’t stop it from being just as tasty as the smaller ones.
Danilo also ordered tonkatsu (top sirloin of pork breaded in panko flour, deep-fried and served with a strong wasabi-like mustard) but I have to say that I was not so enamoured with it. I loved the batter and the strong mustard but I found the meat a little too dry.
Something I couldn’t say of the sensational grilled aubergines that were brined in miso. Simply spectacular.
And I had my reservations about the natto (feremented soya) with raw egg. I really wanted to taste it and asked Danilo to order it even if we were full but I found the slimy texture and the fermented flavour a little challenging although just a little. I am sure I will like it more once I get used to both taste and texture.
Regardless of my quibbles with the pork and my squeamishness with the natto, it was a totally delightful lunch. I could just imagine us being in a similar restaurant in Japan and not finding much difference between the two places, both for the atmosphere (everyone else eating at Kidoairaku was Japanese) and the food. We then walked around Liberdade going into a fun supermarket where I nearly succumbed and bought a beautiful Japanese doll.
But having resisted the doll, I saw no reason to resist the melona ice lolly (with a totally artificial but very convincing taste of melon) or the fresh fruit for sale on the street especially not after Danilo said that I didn’t have to worry about the hygiene. I wish we had fruit carts like this in London. Such a refreshing snack!
And I certainly did not resist the sake tasting at Adega de Sakê where Alexander, the owner, very graciously made us taste an unfiltered sake. I loved his displays and I love his bottarga which he cures himself. Smaller roe than what you would buy in Italy or Greece but just as tasty and his has the advantage of not having an extra layer of casing. Just the natural roe casing. I wish I had bought more than one, not only because it was excellent but also because it was very reasonably priced!
Tagged : adega de sakê, anchovy teishoku, casa garabed, coxinha, danilo nakamura, hibiki family, jun sakamoto, kidoairaku, largest japanese community outside japan, liberdade, natto with raw egg, paladar cozinha do brasil, pastels, sao paulo, tonkatsu, tuna sashimi, urasawa 8