Authentic Japanese Restaurant Under €15:Txa Tei
Restaurant Txa Tei (茶亭), pronounced Cha Tei, is a true Japanese gem hidden in the center of the classy Salamanca neighborhood. Situated away from the busy streets of Goya, the restaurant has a calm, tranquil feel of a traditional Japanese ryo-tei (proper eatery). Although famous among the locals for their fresh sashimi, the other secret to their genuine Japanese flavor is Txa Tei’s own dashi, or Japanese soup stock. Before opening their current restaurant with co-owner Ms. Kimura in March 2011, head chef Mr. Mori perfected his art in Kansai, the culinary capital of Japan. Adding to the authenticity of the dining experience at Txa Tei, each dish is served on imported traditional Japanese ceramics, such as the Arita Yaki and the Imari Yaki, hand picked by the chef himself. Along with the friendly and polite service from Ms. Kimura, Txa Tei gives you a true feel of the art of proper Japanese cuisine in the middle of central Madrid.
Restaurant Txa Tei, despite being located in the middle of upscale Salamanca, offers an affordable Menu del Día during the weekdays starting at 14.80€ (+ IVA). The menu consists of four courses plus a drink: the first plate is a starter, or an aperativo, followed by the primer plato and then the plato principal, finished with a choice of dessert or coffee. The Menu del Día changes occasionally (usually seasonally); they currently offer a summer menu. In addition, Txa Tei is offering a special price on butterfish sushi (2€ per piece) and sashimi (full portion 11€, half portion 6€) until the end of June.
For my meal, I chose the following dishes: sunrinagashi for the aperativo, chicken karaage (Japanese fried chicken) as my primer plato, followed by the rollito del salmon (maki roll with avocado and cream cheese inside, seared salmon on top), and green tea ice cream for dessert.
I was delighted to see the option of surinagashi aside from the traditional miso soup, as it was a hot day and I was craving a cold and refreshing dish to start my four course meal. Txa Tei’s surinagashi is made from summer vegetables (kabocha pumpkin, corn, and white scallions) and konbu seaweed and katsuo (bonito) ichiban-dashi (this is the first soup stock derived from the base. The base ingredients are often re-used to make a secondary dashi, called niban-dashi), made from scratch by Chef Mori. The potage was light with a slightly sweet touch from the kabocha pumpkin and corn, with the savory taste of the dashi. As a soup and vegetable lover, this dish was a delight; I could really taste each ingredient and the dashi, though subtle, was an excellent compliment to the whole dish.
The second plate, chicken karaage, was chosen primarily to compare with the karaage at Hanakura. Txa Tei’s karaage was served on a bed of greens without the ponzu sauce nor the daikon and scallion topping. While Hanakura’s karaage was well marinated, Txa Tei’s chicken was crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and easy on flavor. I have to admit that I loved both; Txa Tei’s karaage is perfect as a primer plato, as it is light (or as light as fried chicken can be!) and not filling, while Hanakura’s flavorful karrage is perfect to eat with a big bowl of rice.
For the plato principal, I chose the Rollito de Salmon, the most popular option along with the sushi. To my surprise, what arrived was a perfectly seared roll that was NOT covered in 3+ different sauces, as is typical for rolls in Madrid (and elsewhere). Instead, the rollito was sprinkled with shredded (cooked) salmon pieces and finely chopped scallions. The lack of sauce shows how confident Txa Tei is of their quality of fish; and they have reason to be, with their pieces rich and fatty salmon (again, perfectly seared) that tops a roll filled with generous slices of avocado and cream cheese. Eaten together in one bite, the piece literally melts in your mouth. Without the heavy sauces, the rollito de salmon was surprisingly light despite it’s volume.
For my dessert, I chose green tea ice cream (the other option being black sesame ice cream, which is also one of my favorites flavors). It was a perfect finish to a delicious, filling, yet light meal.
Txa Tei is located on General Pardiñas, 8, near metro stops Goya and Principe de Vergara. Their hours are as follows:
Monday to Friday: 13:30 – 16:00
20:30 – 24:00
Saturday and Holidays: 14:00 – 16:30
21:00 – 24:00
Sunday: 14:00 – 16:30
Closed for dinner on Sundays
Reservations can be made by calling 91 112 31 83 (strongly recommended). You can view their dinner menu on their website at www.txatei.com
Txa Tei offers vegetarian dishes.
Note: The Menu del Día changes from time to time; although usually seasonal, there may be different options on occasion.