Kirei by Kabuki, top quality Japanese cuisine in the middle of T4
Although I am not a person who is used to flying by plane, I have suffered something that all travelers often complain about, how bad and expensive people eat at Spanish airports. Fortunately, the panorama is beginning to change, and it is the Kirei by Kabuki restaurant in Madrid's T4 that shines with its own light.
The prestige and fame of Kabuki, led by chef Ricardo Sanz and his partner José Antonio Aparicio, moves to the terminal of the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport, adapting to the particularities of this space but without losing the quality or the characteristics of identity of his older brothers.
The transformation of the airport's gastronomic landscape
The opening of Kirei a little over a year ago is one of the steps being taken in Spanish airports by AENA and the Áreas group, a company specializing in restaurants and shopping at airports, stations, shopping centers and other points of great traffic of people.
In recent years we have been working on a profound transformation in the commercial area of airports, especially in Madrid's T4, due to its importance as travelers and being a bit of the great gateway to our country. And gastronomy has played a fundamental role in that renovation.
Eating at an airport almost always implied poor quality, little variety and excessive prices, but now it is intended to offer the traveler the possibility of choosing between an attractive gastronomic offer, which allows them to truly enjoy their food.
In this sense, the T4 has undergone a great change more in line with the image expected of a terminal of its importance, modern and adapted to new trends. The arrival of Kirei by Kabuki is very representative of this change of image, being the first Japanese cuisine restaurant in an airport in our country.
Kirei is also Kabuki
Something that Kabuki managers were very clear about before accepting the proposal to open a store at the airport was that the new space had to respond to the quality and service that has always been associated with its restaurants. It was not about opening a franchise or simply putting your name, Kirei is also Kabuki.
From Areas they contacted directly with Ricardo Sanz and José Antonio Aparicio to work together in a restaurant that would follow in the wake of their older brothers but adapting to the needs and impositions of opening in an airport.
The terminal imposes limited space and very specific security requirements. In addition, potential customers are passengers who are often passing through and have little time to satisfy their appetite. After months of planning and a trial period, they seem to have found the key to how Kirei works.
Everything is supervised by those responsible for Kabuki, no changes are made without their approval. The staff has undergone a training period with their equipment and raw materials are controlled. Above all, the quality of the fish is taken care of to the maximum, which reaches Kirei already open to be cut by the expert hands of each sushi man.
At Kirei, immediacy prevails, each dish begins to be prepared from the moment the order is taken, always thinking that a normal service usually lasts 20 minutes.The place offers a bar for faster meals but also tables when there is less rush. They are currently only open for lunch at noon and the possibility of taking out orders is offered.
A reduced card that bets on quality
It is obvious to think that in a place of these characteristics the menu cannot be ambitious, but must bet on quality and not so much on quantity, which is why in Kirei its extension has been reduced, despite the fact that it continues to present a good variety of options.
The menu is structured in: salads, soups and pastas, wok, skewers, meat and fish, sashimi, usuzukuris, nigiris, makis, futomakis, temakis and desserts, with a small selection of wines without forgetting the presence of various sakes. For the presentation meal that we were able to attend, a selection of dishes taken directly from the menu was prepared for us.
After a refreshing appetizer of papaya and pineapple and a bite of octopus with Canarian potatoes, we started with the Ebi Salada, a small bowl of salad accompanied by two pieces of tempura prawns with tonkatsu sauce. Juicy and tasty meat in contrast to the crunchy batter and the aromatic counterpoint of the sauce, a delicious bite.
The sushi parade began with a plate of ponzu usuzukuri, prepared entirely according to Japanese tradition, with the impeccable cut of corvina and accompanied by chives. We could already see how the Kirei staff follows the guidelines of the art of fish cutting and the perfection in the presentation and the care in the service.
Between Japan and Spain, the hallmarks of Ricardo Sanz
The following dishes already showed that fusion of Japanese gastronomy with Spanish cuisine that has made Ricardo Sanz, usuzukuri from Bilbao and potato and mojo so famous. The first, with the spiciness of the Japanese shichimi togarashi spice mix and the crunchy garlic, much more interesting than the slightly looser combination of red mojo with a small potato accompanying the sea bass sashimi.
They have not wanted to forget some of the star dishes of Kabuki in this new place. And it is that the fame that the usuzukuri of pa amb tumaca has is more than deserved. Succulent pieces of the highest quality tuna with the playful touch of tomato and crunchy breadcrumbs, a combination that may sound strange first but is a delight. Not for nothing is it the most expensive dish on the entire menu, excluding of course the sashimi moriawase.
The bowl of spicy tuna, fried egg and potatoes, a kind of homage to broken eggs, is also surprising for the successful combination of ingredients. The mixture of flavors and textures between the minced fish, the egg with its silky yolk and the French fries is a festival in the mouth.
The nigiri trilogy is also well known among the Kabuki clientele. Fried quail egg with truffle, mini hamburger and butterfish with truffle, on perfectly cooked rice portions that do not tire or mask the flavors of each piece. To finish, two futomakis of intense flavor, huitlacoche and eel with avocado.
We close the menu with a light yuzu sorbet, a Japanese citrus fruit ideal for preparing refreshing desserts, with a powerful citrus aroma. It is appreciated that the sweet finish is smooth after a copious meal, although I was wanting to try some of the daifukus that appear on the menu. They also serve good coffee.
They assure us that Kirei by Kabuki has taken little time to gain a foothold in the gastronomic offer of T4 with a clientele that seems to be gradually increasing. And it is not surprising, because although it is not the cheapest option, the excellent value for money makes it an almost mandatory stop for the traveler who wants to eat well on arrival in Madrid. Too bad you have to be a traveler to access its small but fantastic venue.
Kirei by Kabuki
Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport
Terminal T4. Floor 1. Departures Boarding area J
Tel. 620 266 405 Average price € 25