Buenos Aires – Palermo Hollywood – posh restaurants

Palermo Hollywood is the part of Palermo that’s to the west of the Avenida Juan B. Justo (neighbourhood map here). The name came about as a result of all the TV and radio producers that moved there in the 90’s. Together with Palermo Soho (see previous posts) it forms what used to be called Palermo Viejo, an area particularly known for its nightlife, with many of the best bars and clubs, as well as lots of good cafes and restaurants (city map here).

Some of the best restaurants in Buenos Aires are located in Palermo Hollywood. I review two of them below; Tegui and Osaka.

Tegui (Advanced C), 5852 Costa Rica, www.tegui.com.ar

When I went in 2018, Tegui had just slipped from #49 to #60 in the World’s Best Restaurants but it still features regularly in South America’s top ten. Sadly, writing this up in 2020, I have virtually no recollection of the food because I was told photos weren’t allowed, although it turns out they do let you take them if you really want to, just without a flash.

I recall a very large room with banquettes and shelves of wine down one side, with an impressive open kitchen and seating for around fifty. Intrigue is heightened by the fact it’s hidden behind a grafitti covered door, down an unremarkable back street. I also remember the service was exemplary, and the AR$95 set menu was interesting but not mind-blowing. After so much hype and build up I felt quite nervous coming here as a single diner and I didn’t really enjoy the experience, thus scoring an overall C. I’d give it another go with a friend though.

I much prefer this next place…

Osaka (Advanced A), 5608 Soler, www.osakanikkei.com

In 2011 I was very excited to come to this Nikkei restaurant (second generation Japanese cuisine) as I’m a huge fan of Sushi and had heard a lot about Cerviche but had never tried it. Both are specialities of this restaurant which is reputed to be one of the best in Buenos Aires.

Place setting

Cerviche is an ancient food originating from Peru, where it was further refined by Japanese immigrants. I sat myself at the sushi bar where I could get a good view of the action and chat with the chefs. It was interesting that, while they use Japanese cutting and rolling techniques and shout ‘sushi des’ when it’s ready, they otherwise couldn’t speak a word of Japanese (I can a little).

Cooking crew

I was here to treat myself and eat heartily and did so; obviously you could spend much less.

Tools of the trade

While perusing the menu, I sipped on the house cocktail; Caipi Osaka  (A) made with vodka, passion fruit juice and fresh strawberries with a sugar halo, yum! For the first round, I had the Degustacion Cevi where you choose three different preparations from a list of six. I went for the Wasabi which was white fish, sea bass I think, in Leche de Tigre (marinade of key lime juice, fish and hot pepper), fresh wasabi (the traditional Japanese horseradish that is usually mixed with soya for dipping the sushi into), curly sweet potato and chulpi (sweet maize) popcorn. Also the hot and sour Indo (salmon with chilli jam, mango, coconut milk, scallons, togarashi (Japanese chilli) and topped with crispy quinoa). Thirdly the Classiche, (fish, cerviche base, peppers, herbs and red onion, served with glazed sweet potato and lettuce). All three were absolutely amazing (A+). The Torrontes white wine I wanted to try (Colome) had sold out but the waiter recommended another (San Pedro Yacochuya 2010) from the same grape which was perfect for the fish (A).

Next, Terimaki Temaki, a nori seaweed cone of fried langoustines, slices of salmon and lime, Philadelphia cheese and teriyaki sauce which was heaven in the mouth especially when dipped in a little soya and wasabi (A). For a bit of heat I was also given some yellow Aji chilli sauce, which the waiter described it as TNT! After this the 2 Salmon Temaki; another cone of spicy salmon ‘tataki’ (seared with a gas torch) and avocado with ‘Osaka sauce’. Amazing again (A).

My final round was a plate of Vietnamito, salmon with chilli jam, ajies (chilli pepper variety), fish sauce and grated coconut. This is made in Teradito style, a Japanese-Peruvian method of preparation similar to Cerviche and Carpaccio but without onions and using Japanese fish cutting methods. Sadly this was my least favourite as I didn’t like the sweetness (C). Lots of other Teraditoa on the list to try though. Also, Centolla Nigiri, two pieces of rice topped with king crab and held together with a band of nori seaweed, again very nice (A).One of the things I miss most from Japan is Misoshiru, bean paste soup, which is drunk instead of water at mealtimes. Here it came in a square wide-lipped bowl which went against my soup-drinking sensibilities as it needs to be in a small round bowl you can drink straight out of, so I sent it back to be changed. It was great to taste it again though (B+).

For dessert, Cheese Maracuya, a tasty passion fruit cheesecake with deep-fried basil leaves on the side (B). Sadly the limocello was served only slightly chilled again as it always seem to be in Argentina (D) and I had it changed for a Grappa (B).

I was told I would need to reserve a couple of days earlier (and before 6pm) but instead I was on the doorstep when they opened at 8 and got in that way. As it turned out, there were empty tables anyway so maybe the hype has subsided a bit. My total spend with tip, $630,just shy of £100, but I would happily spend this again, it was easily worth the money.

On to San Telmo next!

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