A week before Christmas I crawled gingerly into the office, changed with shaking hands into the same clothes I had worn throughout most of December and, after imbibing a glass of champagne that was like a water fall to a woman thirsting to death, bade my restaurant farewell for the season.
Only a few hours later I was on a plane to Stockholm. Groggy, in the twilight between inebriation and sobriety, and with what seemed like a month of sleep to catch up on. The first few hours were spent comatose in a simple yet spacious hotel room, and it was only as the bleak winter light faded that I regained conciousness and will power enough to brave the Swedish capital.
Trying to book a table at Shibumi – the latest brainchild from the people behind Esperanto and Råkultur – is an underwhelming experience. There is no menu to dwell over, no wine list to analyze, hardly any pictures, and no clue as to if they have a bar, if there are any upcoming events or if they even exist anymore. In an age where overinformation is the norm I’m not sure if it’s guts or just pure laziness behind their web page, but I’d be hard tried to imagine any motive inbetween…
Shibumi is discreet to a fault, the entrance hidden underneath an archway and behind a door that looks as if it’s been looted from a Bioshock submarine. When we entered however the restaurant was chaotic to say the least, filled to the brim and beyond with noisy guests and bustling waiters. After a while someone came to take our coats and lead us through the dining area and to the kitchen bar. Sitting at a bar is generally my favorite way of eating and some of my best restaurant experiences lately (Momofuku Ko, The Palomar, A. Wong), have been aquired leaning over the counter-top, trying to get an extra good look at what the chef is preparing next.
And I was not disappointed. Everything – from the dashimarinated and deep-fried aubergine to the donburi – was perfectly planned and executed. The dishes were light, well balanced and yet incredibly savory, and it seemed as if there were no “weak points” in the menu.
My absolute favorite was undoubtedly the potatoe-miso bread with razor clams. The egg- and aged soya sauce bound the dish together perfectly and we ended up ordering an extra portion just to savor the taste longer.
Having just returned from Kyoto not a month ago I did have som technical remarks on the okonomoyaki. Mainly on texture and balance though and nothing that someone tasting the dish for the first time would be likely to notice.
Service was rushed, but when they had the time they were very hospitable, helping us with our saké selection and recommending some lovely cocktails. All in all we had a fantastic evening and might never have left but for the fact that we had an appointment with an old friend that we hade to keep. Will I come back next time I’m in Stockholm? Undoubtedly, but perhaps a bit earlier in the evening so as to get the waiters full attention.