I'm finally starting to get around to reporting back on our trip to Barcelona. When we arrived in Barcelona, we were famished. However, we had reservations at Kaiku thanks to Skype and my wife's high school Spanish skills. There was only one problem, Google gave us horrible directions to get to the restaurant. It took us about 45 minutes (after we found the restaurant we realized we were only about 10 min away from our apartment...) to find the restaurant. A skilled navigator I am not. What killed us even more was a lot of the locals didn't know where it was! Well we finally found the place and it didn't disappoint. Kaiku was potentially my favorite meal in Barcelona. The seafood was just amazingly fresh and well prepared. It was us and a few other families, one of which was celebrating a grandson's birthday and included the grandparents. It was cool seeing the entire family get together. This was definitely not a tourist trap.
Upon arrival, we received a little bowl of crispy things that were salty and tasted good. Maybe there were just thin strips of potatoes. After asking the waiter for some suggestions from the menu, we ordered and waited for our food while sipping some bottled water.
The first dish to arrive was eggs with shrimp and jamon - Perfectly cooked scrambled eggs mixed with tender shrimp, ham and sun dried tomato and finally finished with a basil oil. This was delicious and even reminded me of a Taiwanese egg dish my mom makes that also has eggs with shrimp and tomato except this dish had a lot more going on. The eggs provided richness, sweetness came from the shrimp, saltiness and porkiness from the ham and finally a little basil oil to perk things up. We devoured this plate and my mom even wiped up all the remains with bread!
After that we received our mixed lettuce salad topped with shaved foie gras. This salad like most dishes at Kaiku was quality ingredients prepared with minimal fuss and solid execution. This was good just for the shaved foie which provided a richness that went well with the slight bitterness of some of the lettuce. The tomatoes were pretty boring. Not a bad dish but not amazing either.
While we were eating the salad one of the best dishes of the afternoon arrived, fried sea anemone drizzled with honey. These were first oh wow moment of the meal and of Barcelona since this was our first meal. A perfectly crisp tempura like coating surrounding a tender hot mass of briny, sweet, custard like middle. The honey honestly was probably superfluous because the fritters really didn't need them. We inhaled these. Definitely something I would order again.
During this time we also received zamburinas grilled and served with a special house ginger sauce. These clams were briny, tender, sweet, and slightly salty from a sprinkling of crunchy sea salt. The ginger sauce gave it an almost Asian flavor profile (either that or I have food memories that are instantly triggered because of the foods my mom made growing up. My mom used to make a clam soup with ginger that had some of the same flavors as this dish.) Another dish I highly recommend ordering if it's available.
The piece de resistance was seafood paella made with squid ink, octopus, mussels and garlic sauce (I know Barcelona's not really a paella town but this description is from Kaiku's menu). Think of perfectly cooked shellfish along with perfectly cooked rice (no mushiness at all) that had the rich oceany/earthy flavors from the squid ink and seafood and then finished with a taste of garlic. We were tempted to order a second one of these. The shrimp had none of the bitterness in the heads that sometimes happens with less than fresh shrimp and were sweeter than shrimp we normally find on the east cost of the U.S. We'd realize soon that most of the places we went to would have these incredible shrimp and they were simply incredible.
The only misstep was dessert. None of desserts were very interesting at all. The Orange flan looking one was actually bitter and tasted of pith. The worst part was we told the waiter we weren't sure we needed dessert and he said, "No you should have some, I'll bring a bit of each one for you to try." What we thought was going to be a bite of each turned out to be him serving us each dessert and charging us for all of them. It's not a huge deal but I still felt like we were misled since these desserts added another $30 to the bill. I would much rather have ordered another rice dish for that price...
Kaiku was the perfect first meal to introduce us to the joys of Barcelona's impeccable seafood. We had a great time people watching through the open windows and savoring all the delicious foods in a casual atmosphere. The waiter spoke decent English which helped as well. I can see why so many people on Chowhound recommend this place as the place to go on Sundays. Just make sure you make a reservation!
You can photos from my meal on my blog: http://miltonyangphotography.com/?p=1073