Japanese Restaurants Under 15€: Himawari
The himawari, or sunflower, requires plenty of sunlight to bloom. Once fully grown, the flower tracks the sun throughout the day with its vibrant, captivating colors. This image of the sunflower- the bright yellow and green, constantly facing the sun in a show of gratitude- was the inspiration for the owners of the restaurant Himawari. Opened five years ago, the restaurant is run by a team of Japanese and Spanish chefs and personnels, brought together by a love for Japanese food and culture and their desire to share both with the people of Spain.
The interior of Himawari is truly unique to the Madrid dining scene: semi-private booths set below eye level line the restaurant, leading to the usual table-style seating in the back room. This traditional seating allows diners a level of intimacy while they enjoy their food and drinks. And drinks they have: bottles after bottles of sake decorate the wall of the restaurant, and co-owner Tamio will be more than happy to recommend a sake for you with his extensive knowledge of the traditional Japanese liquor.
Himawari’s various menú del día options offers something for everyone. Aside from their usual menu, they currently have a summer carta which features co-owner Ignacio’s favorite dish: the cold udon. In addition to these two options, they have a vegetarian menu del dia as well. The price ranges from 13-17 €; a very fair price to pay for the quality and authenticity one receives.
For my tasting, I ordered the summer menu del dia and a few other dishes from their regular menu. Himawari’s summer menu comes with edamame, home-made udon, and a tuna roll. The edamame came with ground black pepper instead of the usual salt, which added a hint of spiciness to the somewhat sweet and mild taste of the soybeans. The tuna roll, as simple as it may be, was a delight: the tuna was lightly fatty and the rice was perfectly prepared. Lined with vegetables (cucumbers etc), chicken with sesame sauce, Japanese-style eggs, and shrimp, the cold udon was the best I’ve tasted. Fresh and home-made udon is not very common- even in Japan- unless you go to a restaurant dedicated to the dish. At Himawari, Madrileños can enjoy this delicacy and try the soft and chewy udon noodles prepared as a cold dish, topped with a light broth.
Aside from the menu del dia, we ordered a few plates from the chef’s recommendations list. Every week, chefs Ko and Go consult with their seafood and meat supplier and compose a list of dishes using the freshest, high quality ingredients. That week, the recommendations included tuna with wasabi roots and tempura fried suzuki fish. Out of all the dishes served that day, the tuna with wasabi roots was definitely my favorite. The finely chopped wasabi roots, crunchy with a bit of spiciness, was a superb compliment to the fresh and smooth tuna pieces.
Himawari, with its traditional, top notch dishes and bi-cultural team, is a true Japanese izakaya in quality and spirit. Izakayas are there for people to enjoy food and company, and Himawari’s team do a flawless job setting an example. With their next project- a stall in the VIP area at the world famous Benicassim Festival in southern Spain- the crew hopes to spread the word on authentic, traditional Japanese food even further.
The chef’s special changes every week, so be sure to consult the staff.
Himawari is located on Calle Tamayo y Baus 1, near the metro stops Chueca, Banco de España, and Colon.
Himawari’s hours are:
Monday through Saturday
13:30 to 16:00
20:30 to 23:45
Closed on Sundays
Reservations can be made online by clicking here or by calling 913605013.
Check out their website for more information here.