Time and again, the world is coming to Zürich. On a recent summer evening, we did not need to travel very far to find ourselves immersed in a Japanese fine-dining restaurant.
It was refreshing and soothing to get away for once - especially during these times when our movement across country borders is restricted. This spring, the Dolder Grand has converted their bar into the NAGAYA Pop-up Restaurant.
What the NAGAYA Japanese Restaurant is about
The idea of offering Japanese fine dining in a temporary space was born out of a personal relationship among chefs. The Dolder’s Heiko Nieder and the Japanese grandmaster Yoshizumi Nagaya spun the idea of opening a pop-up in Zürich - and we are glad they made it happen.
Chef Yoshizumi Nagaya is based in Düsseldorf, Germany, where he runs a Michelin-starred restaurant named after him. He is widely known for his combining of traditional Japanese cuisine with European flavors. This is the very reason why Nagaya’s experimental cuisine is hard to pinpoint.
Think potato cannelloni filled with smoked salmon or seafood carpaccio. Chef Nagaya uses yuzu, ponzu, and dashi, but also Icelandic redfish, Breton lobster, and Basque veal.
The NAGAYA pop-up is as much eye-candy as it is a treat for the palate.
During our visit, we were very lucky with the weather; the temperatures were mild and a scenic sunset was about to unfold. Needless to say, we asked for a table on the outdoor terrace.
The NAGAYA Japanese Restaurant will be open through August 1, 2021. Here is the selection of courses we have picked from the menu.
Amuse bouche of potato cannelloni filled with smoked salmon, fresh cheese and topped with potato spaghetti
Kabosu citrus liquor with yuzu puree (香母酢)
This sweet temptation would have worked better as a dessert than an appetizer. The two Japanese citrus fruits, kabosu and yuzu, are a fitting match.
Tempura special with vegetables and shrimp (天麩羅盛り合わせ)
The “ebi” shrimp are battered to perfection and crisp as can be. The vegetables are honest, and the carrot even has some stem left.
Carpaccio of Japanese yellowtail with yuzu soy sauce (日本産ハマチのカルパッチョ)
Mamiko is stunned, and when she returns from her sensory journey, says: “It’s the best hamachi carpaccio and ponzu I’ve ever had.”
Chef’s selection of nigiri sushi: salmon, yellowtail, maguro tuna and otoro tuna
A perfect ratio of rice and fish - and look at this presentation! Based on the plating, I take it that the chef wants me to start with salmon and proceed up the chain...
Grilled filet of original A-5 quality WAGYU beef from Japan
Apart from thinly sliced beef for shabu-shabu, I have never tasted wagyu before. These filets of the best quality are perfectly cured and braised. I’m quoting myself: ”This may well be one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”
The off-the-menu dessert features interpretations of rice
The Dolder’s own pastry chef, Christian Hümbs, has come up with a refreshing dessert for NAGAYA. We call it “interpretations of rice” as it seems to contain different flavors and textures made of rice. It’s the perfect way to end this journey of tastes; the ice-cream is not overly sweet, and the pleasant droplet of yuzu acts as a period at the end of a sentence.
Sayonnara! We hope that many of you get to experience NAGAYA while it lasts…
We have been invited to test the Dolder Grand’s package that combines the dining experience with an overnight stay. It is called Sweet Escape and includes 100 francs in restaurant credits, among other perks.
NAGAYA Japanese Pop-up
Phone: 044 456 60 00
Opening times: Thu to Sun 6 - 10 PM (dinner), plus Sat/Sun 12 - 2 PM (lunch). Preview the menus online.