Before it even broke ground nearly two years ago, Nare Sushi Bar was building a legion of followers. I first met Federico Jorge at Kyopo, the Flores restaurant that welds Korean and Southeast Asian cuisine to North American and Mexican dishes. I followed him over to Saigon, where he briefly ran the kitchen while waiting to open his small Omakase counter on the edges of Barrio Chino.
All the while, his Instagram gave a taste of what to expect: a minimalist approach to sushi that favors slick nigiri over the local paradox of simple rolls stuffed with cream cheese and maracuya.
In the time since Jorge has opened with his wife and business partner, Cecilia Zaccagnini, like-minded Japanese restaurants have appeared. The menu at the bleached-white anime-inspired dining room at Mirutaki is split between loud, savory dishes and a generous platter of heavy set sashimi and nigiri. The twelve seater bar at Tintoria Yafuso offers robata, charcoal grilled fish, and tempura alongside sushi moriawase—but both hot offerings overshadowed a slim, repetitive selection of nigiri during my visit.
At Nare, the menu is dialed even further down with a small sushi counter, 14 seats and a menu that exclusively offers omakase—the chef’s choice of a rotating selection of the freshest fish found in the neighborhood’s abundance of markets and the Mercado Central. Diners are asked to choose the size of the platter: 12, 15 or 20 pieces which are bookended by an addictive miso soup and a barely intervened fresh fruit dessert.
There is no salmon, and Jorge’s selection leans towards Argentine fish caught off the Atlantic coast.
Depending on your luck, you may be greeted by shockingly soft calamari, or girthy cuts of shrimp sliced up the belly. Raw shrimp in Buenos Aires is often my least favorite, always frozen and often with the flavor of a stale refrigerator that clings to the tongue. Here, they were meaty with a texture one might expect from a thick cut of rare beef. There may also be a distantly briny, plump cut of anchovy, diced across the top to reveal a bright pink under a layer of silver. Or juicy pez limon, similar in consistency to a fatty red salmon; there is also delicate, slightly oily mackerel. A slice of tamago, a sweet and savory egg omelette, was a little to strong on the sweet. Soft clumps of wasabi can be blended into salty soy sauce or rubbed gently atop.
A large selection of wine leans white and rose. A white pinot noir by Aniello from Rio Negro is a wonderful pair. On the nose it smells of white apricots with flowers off in the distance. The crisp wine had a long, slightly acidic finish that played nicely with nearly all the fish. For dessert, a bowl of tart pineapple with mild chile flakes was a hit; strawberries buried underneath cardboard sheets of coconut was uncomfortable to chew.
It is unlikely you will have tasted sushi quite like this in Buenos Aires. To be sure to get your fill, call ahead and ask for a seat at the bar.
Nare Sushi Bar
Address: Echeverria 1524, Barrio Chino
Open: Tuesday through Saturday 7:30 to 11:30pm and Saturday from noon to 3:30pm
Price per person: $1500+