Courtesy of Roberta’s

Best New Chef alum Carlo Mirarchi of Roberta’s and Blanca in New York City lets us in on a little secret: Some of the best Japanese food can be found in Mexico City. Here’s where you should go.

Elyse Inamine
October 11, 2017

Mexico City continues to rebuild following the earthquake in September. You can donate to relief efforts through organizations like Topos Mexico, Fondo Unido (part of the United Way) or Global Giving, which, as of this writing has raised nearly $2 million to help the aid and rebuilding efforts.

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A lot of people make the culinary pilgrimage down to Mexico City for Pujol, chef Enrique Olvera’s landmark Mexican restaurant, or maybe for street food galore (tacos al pastor, anyone?).

That was certainly the case initially for Carlo Mirarchi, the Best New Chef alum behind Roberta’s and Blanca in New York City. He was down in Mexico City this past summer for an event at Pujol. But what he took away from the great food city wasn’t the obvious hits but rather something more surprising: Mexico City has some of the best Japanese food.

“While I was working on the menu at Pujol, I needed to dig into something different to clear my head,” says Mirarchi. “It’s always exciting to see how different countries bring other cultures’ food to life, and these Japanese restaurants are pushing the boundaries of an already incredibly rich food city.”

Here are the restaurants, recommended by his friend and private chef Elizabeth Fraser, that wowed Mirarchi.

Rokai

“This casual sushi spot/izakaya features seafood from Baja, including outstanding sea urchin and hiramasa (amberjack). But what impressed me the most was the rice, which was made in true Edo style: served at body temperature with the perfect amount of vinegar. The restaurant has a more formal, omakase-only sushi-ya called Sushi Kyo.”

Le Tachinomi Desu

“Here I felt like I was in some perfect world that blended Tokyo, Mexico City and Paris. This stand-up bar with snacks features a pretty awesome list of natural wines, served in a very French style of grabbing or pointing at the bottles you want to try. We also had some tasty grilled elote and fantastic glasses of French, Mexican and Japanese wines.”

Hiyoko

“This joint grills some of the best yakitori I have ever had, including what I’ve tried in Tokyo and Osaka. Perfectly seasoned, beautifully crisped with a slight char and with a slight kombu taste. I was smashing sticks left and right. I would go back down in a heartbeat just for one more bit of that shiro (chicken intestine).”