The only reason why Juan Alcaide (37) and Pablo Álvaro (36) get bitten is because of football.

"And that we are both from Madrid," says the first with a sneer.

In everything else,

the tandem behind


, one of the essential Japanese in the capital, understands each other perfectly.

For a few months now, their fusion cuisine has been seen and enjoyed in a new and spectacular 800-square-meter venue on the same street where they started, Los Madrazo, where art, another of the hobbies they share, covers the experience from the bar and the room.

"We needed a bigger kitchen."

Mackerel nigiri with winter ratatouille.

They met at Kabuki Presidente Carmona, the place of Ricardo Sanz, the reference 'sushiman' in the capital.

"We both worked at the bar and we connected right away."

They were united by cooking and art, but also by their passion for travel -whenever they can, they escape to try somewhere- and tattoos


"We have very full bodies; most of it has to do with Japanese cuisine or culture," Juan explains at one of the high tables in the restaurant's entrance, where a multicolored crested sculpture of Okuda welcomes customers.

In this part of the premises, only the 'hits' of the house are served.

In Kabuki they worked together for five years

, before going solo.

Juan landed there after spending two years in Francisco Medrano's first DiverXO -today occupied by another high-rise Japanese, Zuara-.

"Dabiz Muñoz was already a genius then. Many things that he taught me at that time I have understood over the years."

Of what he values ​​most from that time, "the constant teamwork, which always motivated you to create, to take risks... That makes the difference. A year, Dabiz could put out 365 dishes and you were part of that".

That philosophy was transferred from the beginning to her project.

"You have to take care of the teams."

Umiko's room.

There are a couple of hours left before the noon service starts;

Suppliers arrive, comment on the fish that has entered, give some indication in the kitchen... They have arrived after 9:00 am and will not leave until 2:00 in the morning.

It is his usual schedule from Tuesday to Saturday.

"I run away at 5:00 p.m. to look for my son, I leave him with the grandmothers and at 6:30 p.m. I'm back," sums up Juan.

They finished the morning meeting with the team a few minutes ago.


We have always sought to offer a fusion with sense and with the best product in the world

", explains Pablo. "All those who come out of Kabuki, copy Kabuki", adds Juan. They wanted to have their own style, casual, original and somewhat hooligan, while continuing to seek harmony and balance with the environment and the room -the crockery and dishes have been chosen in detail-.

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Japanese cuisine and techniques mark the journey at the table, which incorporates flavors from half the world, from Peru to China, passing through Thailand, Mexico and, of course, Spain.

"We take great care of our suppliers because we always try to offer new things to diners," says Juan.


We are very crazy when it comes to looking for products


And very respectful, especially in the care of the sea.

"We work close to the season. If it's not turbot season, we don't serve it."

Salmon nigiri with gherkin and spun egg.

They play with the gender that enters the day;

there is a lot of improvisation in the routine and that is always a challenge


They use two types of vinegar and three types of soy from different vintages;

They were pioneers in maturing fish and before opening

they tasted more than 20 rice dishes until they found what they were looking for


"We bought it from a Japanese family and it is of the koshihikari variety," Juan settles without giving any further clues.

In these seven years of work at Umiko they have created

a list of essential snacks

, such as the paella nigiri topped with a white prawn from Huelva, the Madrid porra (stuffed with chicken in pepitoria, citrus mayonnaise and spun egg) and the dried ramen of carabinieri.

One cannot forget the rib ssam, the tuna curry and the more than 20 nigiris they make: scallop, ear with Japanese brava sauce, Atlantic sardine... "

Now we want to add some Iberian pork

", he announces Juan.

Champagne, another shared passion, reigns supreme in the cellar.

"We have more than 100 references."

The originality of its desserts -the pink panther, the mochis...- has earned a legion of followers, to the point that a few weeks ago they opened

Umikobake, a pastry shop in their old premises (at number 18 on the same street).

where the Japanese sweet shines in the showcases with the 'umisan'

(his version of the croissant), the panettone and the roscones.

"During the pandemic, desserts were very successful in delivery. That's why we came up with the idea of ​​creating this space."

As if that were not enough, with the new restaurant they opened their art gallery with a tattoo studio.

Pink panther dessert.

Behind the bar where Pablo makes the nigiris while he observes or chats with the diners, as appropriate, a huge mural by Okuda fills the space with colour.

2We no longer have delivery, our concept is lived here". At the tables,

the light is strategically focused on the dish

, the protagonist, after all, of everything that this tandem creates in Umiko, which in Japanese means 'daughter of the sea'.


: Los Madrazo, 6. Average ticket: 90 euros.

According to the criteria of The Trust Project

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