I replaced the tuna with salmon in this fresh spring salad.
The restaurant is the 3rd one started by chef Sergio Herman (as you know my favourite chef...) in Cadzand, after Pure-C and AIRrepublic. After having dined many years @ Pure-C, last summer, I got the impression that it was not evolving anymore... so my expectations for this one were high, to see what Sergio touch we could expect! We made a reservation for 2 only days before, we got lucky to get a table at 6PM on a Friday. I first thought there was going to be one more shift after us, but apparently they spread out the reservations to allow the kitchen to follow. Good idea.
The contemporary interior reflects some Japanese styles and colours. It's supposed to be a gastro bar, not a restaurant. Given the service and pricing, this is not a Japanese pub, it's a restaurant. (although the people seated at the bar might let you think otherwise)
We were immediately in the mood with a DJ behind the tables playing some chillax Ibiza tunes, only to be interrupted by 5 waiters/service in the room on a total of 14 people present. We were seated near the entrance, where a waiter was positioned for incoming guests right behind my wife, this felt very uncomfortable.
I know there are a lot of foreign students present in such an environment but It didn't feel like there was one senior person in the room. Au contraire to when AIRrepublic started and some of the PURE-C crew tagged along.
We started of with cocktails, mine was a Shiso infused gin, nothing special but well balanced, and my wife got a Sparkling Rose (Raspberry, Rose, Lychee, Martini Riserva Bianco, champagne) which proved to be a direct hit. Something like a Japanese Manhattan. But better.
All this was accompanied by some very tasty (amazing miso...) spicy edamame beans.
I hit it off with some soba noodles and smoked eel. I'm a sucker for the buckthorn (from the dunes of Cadzand) juice, but this time it proved less effective (vs pairing with other white fish).
Some light tempura salt-pepper squid and a nonami togarashi kind mayonnaise. Well prepared!
A mini salad of lobster with a fresh young salad. I felt the lobster could have been less spiced, so the lobster could come into its own.
a 22,5€ Iberico Tongkatsu ... really? that's a pretty tasteless Iberico, with some Tongkatsu and sort of Kewpie mayo. (half of what you see on this picture is a sweet fried dough) I expected more of a David Chang+Momofuku porc, simple but tasty as hell.
Again ... 24,5€ for a little piece of sea bass, algae and miso butter ... as you can tell on the picture by the size of the leaves ... I mean little...
If I remember well this was the Uehara Shuzo, Seawater sake. 26€ for 175ml, a bit on the expensive side too... Glad to have tasted it, tastes like seawater, who would have thought!
We went for the crispy miso chicken (12€) accompanied by ponzu aioli paksoi (6€!). Complex in all its simplicity. When you marinate chicken (best to use thigh meat) in miso, or something salty/sugary and then throw it in a scorching hot wok for just a minute or two, you get this chewy soft tender chicken with a crispy edge. You don't need to vacuum it first and low temp it. Perfectly amplified by the crispy chicken skin (I guess ground and mixed with tapioca, then fried - I found it so tasteful I decided to make it myself - click here for my recipe !)
Finally for some apricot delicacy made by one of the in-house young chefs.
Overall a bit of a disappointing experience, I expected more contrast in the food. This was playing safe for Sergio I think.
I can't get over the fact that the restaurant follows the new influx of money in Cadzand, and makes this place, once so unique and peaceful, so unobtainable for most people.
We paid 125€ pp. (3 glasses of red wine inclusive)