12 days in Spain & 4 days in Paris- 9/12/14- 9/9/28/14 

Arrival-Amuse Bouche  The 1st 5 course Main & Dessert

ARZAK , San sebastian - 9/23/2014

San Sebastian is a city blessed by Stars.. When I say "Stars" I really mean Michelin Stars! 

Spain has currently a total of 8 restaurants with three Michelin star and 3 of them are located in San Sebastian (Arzak, Akelare, and Martin Berasategui).  It is also home to a great selection of 28 Michelin star restaurants making San Sebastian the city with more Michelin stars per square meter in the world.  Click on this LINK to read on article talking about Michelin Stars and the Basque country.    

Arzak got their first 3 Michelin star award in 1998 and kept it ever since.  This year (2014) Arzak celebrated their 25th anniversary as being a 3 Michelin star which is a huge accomplishment.  Arzak held a top 10 position in the World's 50 best restaurants since 2006, and is currently listed as number 8 since 2011.  In 2008, Arzak's owner and chef, Juan Mari Arzak, was awarded the Universal Basque award for "adapting gastronomy, one of the most important traditions of the Basque Country.

Juan Mari has been in charge of the kitchen since 1967 and he was one of the founding fathers of the Nueva Cosina Vasca (New Basque Cuisine) movement that started in Spain in the late 70s, a cuisine that found international acclaim in the 1990s. Arzak features new avant-garde Basque Cuisine and Juan Mari describes his cooking as "signature cuisine, Basque cuisine that's evolutionary, investigatory, and avant-garde."

Nowadays Elena Arzak (Juan Mari's daughter) became joint head chef of her family's restaurant alongside her father. Elena has also made a name for herself and was named best Female Chef in the World in 2012.

The building has been in the Arzak family since it was built in 1897. Constructed by Juan Mari’s  grandparents, the building was initially used as a wine tavern. Juan Mari’s parents eventually took it over and converted it into a restaurant specializing in banquets.  Juan Mari took over in 1966 and make Arzak one of top dinning experience.

Reservations are mandatory if you want to dine at Arzak.  You have to go online, fill out a form and then a few days later you will an get an e-mail either confirming or declining your reservation.

In our case I filled out the reservation form a month earlier and I was able to get a reservation without any problems.  It pays to plan ahead! 


The restaurant does not open until the first seating which is at exactly 9:45PM.

People started to arrive and we are waiting to get in.  I am a little surprised that they don't open their door early so people can grab a cocktail before hand.

While waiting to get in, we noticed that the guests came from all over the world to dine at Arzak.


We are entering the 1st floor of the restaurant and we were asked to take the stairs to the 2nd level.

This is the 2nd level of the restaurant.  The Dining space feels modern,  minimalist decor with clean lines and neutral color.


Simple table set up.

The menu

The restaurant offers a la carte menu and a chef's tasting menu for €195.  We opted for the Chef's menu.


aperitif: chilled dry white wine with amaretto, mint and shaved orange rind. It was light, crisp and refreshing. Before I even finished it, I was thinking of how I could recreate it at home. We were seated upstairs, in a contemporary and minmalist dining room, next to a table of late-20-something folks from New York and London. We felt at home. - See more at: http://thechicbrulee.com/2013/08/12/arzak-a-review/#sthash.W0tO8Vtk.dpuf

Hoa and Minh starting the evening with a house cocktail recommended by our server.

The house cocktail is a chilled dry white wine with amaretto, mint and shaved orange rind. It was light, crisp and refreshing.


Dinner started off with bread service, wheat and white served with Andalusia olive oil



Hoa and Minh selected a bottle of wine but after tasting it they sent it back and ordered something else.

We were also surprised that they did not offer wine pairing with the chef's menu or maybe something got lost in translation... the only person who spoke decent English was the sommelier other than that we had a tough time understanding the lady who served us.

Amuse bouche

The meal started with 5 amuse bouche.  All the amuse bouche were served in a single dish and we all got a piece of each dish.

1- Joazi of prawn and Moringa- It is a really beautiful plate with vibrant colors.

 Joazi is a Chinese dumpling and here it is crispy and filled with shrimp and Moringa (nut like seed).


2-Chickpea and cured sausage

Pretty yummy!


3-Bitter raspberry purée arrived in an iced dish.


filled with bitter raspberry purée and “corked” with a juicy piece of melon and strip of jamón. The flavors from the jamón had completely infused the raspberry juice, so it was surprise to drink because you of course expected the juice to be sweet. This is one of the many examples of how Juan Mari incorporates classic local specialties, such as jamón, into inventive and modern interpretations. This dish, and many others at Arzak, caused you to want to stop after each bite and try to identify all of the different flavours and ingredients - See more at: http://thechicbrulee.com/2013/08/12/arzak-a-review/#sthash.W0tO8Vtk.dpuf

Each bottle was filled with bitter raspberry purée and “corked” with a juicy piece of melon and strip of jamón. The flavors from the jamón was well infused in the raspberry juice and yiel a very interesting and unique flavor.


4- Chorizo with tonic water

Chorizo and tonic was served on a crushed Schweppes can. A thin slice of chorizo was wrapped in shaved mango and marinated in citrus.

I loved the presentation...so playful and whimsical.



5-Tuna and strawberry


This is our last amuse bouche

I don't  remember much about this dish but it definitely looks good.

Next... First 5 courses



Our house


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