Ibiza’s culinary bar is set so high, that sometimes it’s hard to get excited about a new restaurant. IZAKAYA however, is a completely different kettle of fish. What you experience and taste at IZAKAYA Ibiza is a culmination of commercial intellect, considered design and culinary genius. Part of Amsterdam-based The Entourage Group, this Asian kitchen and bar has staked its claim in Amsterdam, Hamburg, Munich and Milan, and just recently made its way over the Mediterranean into the centre of Ibiza, as part of the new Sir Joan Hotel. Ibiza has brought a new meaning to the fresh, lively concept behind IZAKAYA. With a new menu enhanced by the bright, bold flavours of the Balearic Islands and outstanding architectural design, the dining experience has been well and truly brought to life.
Behind this inspiring idea, Yossi Eliyahoo, co-founder of The Entourage Group, told us why he was so excited about this new restaurant.
Why is Ibiza the next stop for The Entourage Group with IZAKAYA?
Ibiza has become a very cosmopolitan, international outpost. It developed really fast and in doing so, has automatically attracted a lot of developers and hospitality businesses keen to be put on a global map. The island has such a unique charm – it is a privilege to be able to create within and to be part of it. IZAKAYA has a very special concept with high-end service, quality ingredients,
an international skilled team and an exceptional design of the restaurant. I truly believe IZAKAYA belongs in Ibiza.
The Entourage Group is constantly developing and pushing boundaries in modern cuisine and fine dining. How do you maintain such an open hub of creativity within such a large, successful business?
I travel for work and pleasure all year long and draw a lot of inspiration from cities, other hospitality businesses, movies, art and fashion.
What excites you most about venturing into the Ibiza market?
It gives me an excuse to spend a lot of time on the island!
Has what you’ve developed been influenced or shaped by a specific ‘Ibiza’ dynamic?
The interior design and certain twists on the menu are specifically designed for Ibiza. We have taken advantage of the beautiful weather by creating an outdoor dining space and a slick pool feature surrounded by a lot of exotic greenery. It gives the atmosphere of a forbidden garden.
Everyone finds their favourite spot on Ibiza somewhere amongst the clubs, restaurants, villages and coves. Where would we find you?
Es Torrent is a restaurant and a hidden gem located in such a magical bay, I think it’s one of the most spectacular places on the island. As for clubbing, I really enjoy going to Hii and Pacha. They’re probably the complete opposite of each other in terms of look and feel but it’s great to have two different vibes depending on your mood.
The fare is predominantly modern Japanese cuisine with South American influences. The man behind the menu, critically acclaimed Chef Hariprasad Shetty (Chef Hari) gave us his thoughts on the new restaurant and why it works so well.
How do you think that IZAKAYA’s new Ibiza setting has inspired the atmosphere in the restaurant?
It’s quite simple. When you come to IZAKAYA in Ibiza, you see a lot of life and nature; you see water, the sky, an open bar, and an open kitchen. Compared to our other IZAKAYA venues, this restaurant seems to have everything, because in Ibiza, it can! In terms of the layout, there is a garden, swimming pool, and cabanas to break up and extend the space. Hopefully as well, the sun will always be out for customers to enjoy. The natural light adds a whole new dimension to the dining experience. You see a lot fun in this restaurant, there is a lot of life in it.
What was your process behind designing the new menu?
I did a lot of research; I travelled all over Spain to experience different concepts, and then travelled across Ibiza at least ten times. First I visited several local restaurants, then the vegetable farmers, local suppliers and local markets. I observed what the locals were eating and what their eating habits are. You have to place yourself in the mind of your target group. Also a lot of IZAKAYA dishes are very international, which makes sense in Ibiza, where there is such a diverse collection of people from different countries.
Are there any surprises on the new menu?
The Wagyu Paella using Wagyu beef, sushi rice and Japanese mushrooms. You have to try it – it’s a fantastic combination.
Ibiza is quickly growing its market for locally-sourced ingredients. Is this something that has factored in to IZAKAYA Ibiza?
Yes, it has. We are using a lot of local product and are working together with local suppliers. Ibiza is not just a Spanish island; it’s a very international island with ingredients coming from all over the world. From the moment I had to do my sourcing, a long time before we opened, I took some local suppliers to Amsterdam to experience what we offer as a restaurant at IZAKAYA Amsterdam. In order to speak the same language with your suppliers you have to educate them, at the same time, I have to educate myself to work with them. It takes a long time understanding each other before you can source the right products. Very importantly, suppliers have to know and understand what you are looking for.
What’s one flavour you couldn’t imagine your cuisine without?
Umami – that famous Japanese ‘fifth taste’. In Ibiza you need a lot of Umami flavour, so I try to incorporate it into most of the dishes I create. My favourite ingredient is fresh fish straight from the sea. This always brings a dish to life, and works perfectly in a setting like Ibiza!
While Chef Hari is in charge of IZAKAYA’s culinary composition, the architectural layout was developed by Baranowitz & Kronenberg. These veteran architects have been the design force behind IZAKAYA in all of its locations across Europe. Thrilled at the opportunity to create within an entirely new locale, they gave us further insight into the architecture of IZAKAYA Ibiza.
How much would you say the locale influences the design of the restaurant?
The locale is key to any process in which the end-result aspires to be relevant. Therefore, we practice the ‘art of relevance’ where the essence of place is a paramount driving force in developing our designs. IZAKAYA Ibiza is no
different in that sense.
What is the biggest difference between the IZAKAYA restaurants you have previously designed and this one?
While all previous restaurants are primarily urban in the fullest sense, the one in Ibiza strikes on totally different chords. The white island has its own particular energies of parallel living which set people in a specific mind set; on the one hand we have slow living, pristine nature, ‘flower-power’ and indigenous traditions of myths and legends. On the other hand there’s that hedonistic mind-set of ‘eat, NO sleep, rave, repeat’. IZAKAYA dropped anchor at the middle of it all and is designed to bring out the best of each.
What look were you going for?
Studying the island, we could see that there is a perpetual inclination towards the aesthetic of the Balearic Islands in various degrees, which seems like a logical thing to do. But we thought that IZAKAYA gave us an opportunity to develop another angle of looking at things and still evoke the essence of place whilst also being in-tune with the IZAKAYA brand. Therefore, our design was not inspired by Ibiza per-se but rather by the lifestyle of our target audience arriving to the island; the jet and yacht-setters who rave throughout the summer season as part of the wild heartbeat of Ibiza. Our design brings about an air of an inclusive ‘members-only’ retreat. It is inspired by maritime culture and yacht living.
Do you ever look for ways to reflect the nature of the menu through the design of the restaurant? If so, how?
A great restaurant is the result of many aspects which come togethersynergistically: location, culture, menu, pricing, service, management, marketing, design and many more. When all of these transcend to the level of one holistic experience, the restaurant becomes iconic. The design must reflect the menu, complement and leverage it. It should not be literal by any means, yet if it fails to
do so, we a get a weak link in the chain which our guests recognise and which dilutes their experience.
What excites you most about this new restaurant?
Having the opportunity to be part of this wonderful island!
IZAKAYA Ibiza: izakaya-restaurant.com/ibiza