Forget everything you knew so far about all-you-can-eat buffets. Ginza and its chef Víctor Camargo (responsible for the gastro proposals of Baan, Viva Madrid, Salmon Guru) have arrived in the capital to erase the memory and somehow reinvent (and burst) that format with a proposal of Asian haute cuisine: a menu with more than 40 dishes, without limit of repetition and for 31.95 euros per person (bread, snack and drinks apart).
Oblivious to the topic, here there are no counters where to exhibit the creations, nor does it take the "serve yourself", but the "eat what you want" of a free tasting menu and height.
After six months of gestation, the restaurant opened its doors a couple of weeks ago in the middle of Velázquez Street. Distributed in two spaces, it exudes Asian luxury with its delicate red lanterns, its seven-meter, 3,000-piece dragon hanging from the ceiling, its well-dressed tables, its multicultural tableware with dishes handmade by an artist from El Escorial and other utensils brought from China, Japan... (mini-robatas; steamers; tiffin, the typical Indian tarteras ...).
Siu mai grilled pig's ear with Korean romesco and citrus aioli.
The original idea of Ginza was inspired by that Chinese buffet type to which a teenage Victor -raised in Aluche and Carabanchel- went on Fridays with his friends and 10 euros in his pocket to eat as much as he wanted. With this starting point, the project was "to set up a different Chinese restaurant, gastronomic level and haute cuisine. A cuisine with a lot of sense and to eat well: fine elaborations, a lot of vegetables and without saturated fats or fried foods to the crazy that usually exists in these places ...", explains Camargo (31 years old), who continues to narrate the background of the concept.
"Everything comes from giving a spin to classics such as chicken with lemon, beef with peppers, sweet and sour pork ... A Chinese 2.0. But, of course, then other ideas arise and, for different circumstances, he ends up as a creative Asian, with winks from Madrid." This is how this chef sums up the concept "in continuous learning" who despite his few years is already a recognized artisan of fusion in Madrid.
Beef entrails with shichimi togarashi chimichurri and yogurt and cucumber sauce.
"We work with traditional style, but with recipes from all over the world. It is stewed, broths are made... As if it were grandma's kitchen, but executed differently. Everything is cooked here and many things at the moment. If I show you the recipe book, you would freak out: we have about 40 dishes, yes, but to make them we use up to 300 different elaborations. Each one has its sauce, its decoration, its crunch, its history, "he details in this guided tour of Ginza in which he acts as cicerone.
And how does this very gastro traditional Asian work?, you may ask. With a menu, a menu of the day (first, second and dessert. 16.50 euros) and the jewel in the crown, a free tasting that includes all the passes of the menu, which, in addition, can be ordered without limit. And if Víctor bets on a kitchen with a head, this new buffet does it by eating with it too. "The dishes are served in batches of three, which allows you to enjoy at the table and try more exotic things that you would not otherwise ask for fear of making a mistake and without spending the 16 or 20 euros that each pass of this type can cost."
Shabu shabu of Madrid stew.
Although it is not about "getting up and bursting", but about taking risks. Because Ginza and her chef incite daring and enjoyment. "I would like people who come looking for new flavors to find them. That you try them without fear and that you dare a little more, but without identifying us as a place of very rare dishes. We're not going to put a shark fin or a cow's tongue with a morbid texture..."
He continues: "In many cases, the palate of Chinese cuisine, for example, is very different from what we are used to. I try to adapt these recipes with products that you and I know so that you can come with your family. Maybe you're crazy about Chinese, Japanese food..., but your father isn't, because here he's going to find a dish for him." In short: Asian cuisine with Spanish products bought in markets in Madrid and from small suppliers.
For example, the shabu shabu of Madrid stew with Galician beef slices and microvegetables; the grilled pig's ear siu mai with Korean romesco and citrus aioli; The high Galician beef loin in the Yakiniku style, the pork needle ramen and torreznos, the crispy Iberian pork roll, the grilled mussels with red kimchi and edamame...
The chef with part of his team.
And also bites -very- Asian: pad thai, curry, yakitori, sushi with nigiris and uramakis - "it is the first time I include them in a letter of mine" - and dim sum, "which is the chapter where I am most interested in growing, because it is where you can be more creative".
The menu -and, therefore, also the tasting menu- of Ginza is born with a changing essence. "Yes, we have already touched some dishes. It's normal, we test, we test to see how they work." And it is that Victor and his brain "bustle bustle" are in continuous creative agitation. " From September we want to set up, downstairs, a Chinese-Japanese suburb roll area with its own atmosphere, its own music, its own food. Everything more rogue, more street food," he laughs.
That will be from September, because at the moment, the thought is on the street floor, which has a capacity for 20-22 diners. The gastro proposal is completed with a liquid offer in which there is no shortage of Japanese whiskey; wines from different Spanish D.O., national sparkling wines, champagnes and cocktails that harmonize with the umami flavors of the menu (Misky, The Samurai, Moscow Bloom ...). "To enjoy", insists this chef who dedicated himself to the kitchen because since childhood he loves to eat.
Citrus scallop nigiri with wasabi mayonnaise.
"My mother has melted me to liver steaks, ha, ha, and all kinds of foods" He learned from her and his grandmothers, and from family gatherings he has left that feeling of celebration that distills his cuisine. He studied at the Escuela Superior de Hostelería in Madrid and from there, with his French training, he went out to tanning between stoves. He made callus and cook's arm in a restaurant on Narváez Street. "We gave 150 menus a day with four starters, four main courses and four desserts. I didn't prepare chicken in pepitoria, meatballs...! I stayed for three years and learned the basics of cooking."
And he arrived at the Sudestada of Estanis Carenzo and Pablo Giudice, a reference of Asian fusion in Madrid (closed at the end of 2014). "I came from French cuisine and classic Spanish, that blew my mind. My brain started going crazy and I just wanted to learn and learn. A creative chip woke up and I started cooking ideas. After a year I was second in the kitchen," he recalls.
Later he landed at Casa Bonay (Barcelona). "It was a more street food Sudestada, not so purist, in a super avant-garde hotel where I began to understand how trends worked." Until one day he left his position as head chef "and I went as an intern to Mugaritz. If at the creative level it is much superior, at the organizational level, it is even more so."
French toast infused with rose milk and ginger honey.
He returned to Madrid and Baan, Viva Madrid, Salmon Guru emerged... and now Ginza, where he manages a team of 10 people in the dining room and another 10 in the kitchen (including three sushiman), with Isma, the head chef, at the helm.
"I reconcile and delegate well. I belong to a generation that has grown up with bad ways. I've been in kitchens where it was treated badly and the chef looked like a dictator. Yes, I have experienced slavery inside the kitchens, there was and there is." And this is something he has always fled from in his restaurants: "I have not shouted at anyone or spoken in a bad way. I want clean kitchens, where you work with dignity and respect, something I also look for in the people who work with me." And positive energy and good vibes.
"You can laugh in a kitchen and be very responsible and very serious about what you do." He likes to form teams that are versatile, "that today can make sushi and tomorrow dim sum or productions. For me, personality and sharing concepts is more interesting than a resume." I always want to surround myself with the best, because that's going to take away my job and give me quality of life."
Uramaki of spicy tuna marinated in Japanese soybeans.
And it is that Victor feels only a neighborhood boy who has gotten into the kitchen; He keeps his old friends and has hobbies outside the kitchen. "I play football, I like art, visiting museums, plants, talking to people... And learn whatever the discipline." That moves him more than red stars or awards. "Let's see, it's great to get recognition, but it's not my main goal. I prefer to get home, have a weekend, go on vacation...", he says smiling, something he has not stopped doing throughout the interview.
Ginza. Velazquez, 47. Phone: 91 802 79 28. Open from Monday to Friday (from 13.30 to 15.30 h. and from 20 to 22.30 h.) and weekends (from 13.30 to 16 h. and from 20 to 23.30 h.).
According to the criteria of The Trust Project