My favourite place to eat in Tenerife is La Caleta, in Costa Adeje. As a sunny lunch spot, or a relaxed evening venue, for me, it has the best cluster of restaurants in the south. Most offer variations on the abundant fish and seafood dishes of the Canary Islands. However, much as I enjoy the ocean’s bounty, my favourite offers a non-traditional menu. After all, I can enjoy typical fish dishes in Tajao or Los Abrigos and a dozen other villages along the coast.
When it first opened, I was acquiring a taste for Japanese food, but it was hard to find on the island. I knew of only two restaurants that served sushi back then. One was in Santa Cruz, a long drive, and the other was in Playa de las Americas, where parking is at a premium.
To call 88 a Japanese restaurant would be misleading, but they do a mouth-watering selection of sushi and sashimi. For the rest, probably, Asian Fusion is the best description. If you’re not a fan of raw fish, there is a delicious selection of dim sum. Don’t assume when you see a familiar name, like wanton or prawn toast that it will be “same old, same old.” These dishes in 88 are nothing like the ones in your corner Chinese restaurant. They are light, and perfectly flavoured with fresh herbs or garlic or ginger.
That perfect balance of herbs and spices is something 88 has down pat. Their noodle dishes take traditional recipes and add their own twist, and what they call their “luxury dishes,” which feature steak, sea bream, scallops, king prawns or duck all have those tantalizing layers of flavour that make each mouthful an adventure. There is tofu in reduced tomato chill sauce for vegetarians – as delicious as everything else on the menu, speaking as a non-lover of tofu.
If you have room, the dessert menu is short but rich. At the end of a meal I can’t usually manage a dessert, unless the word cinnamon crops up, and it did, so the banana and cinnamon spring roll is the only one I’ve tried. It was sheer heaven, made with local bananas, just the right amount of cinnamon, and a pastry so light it truly melted in the mouth.
The surroundings are elegant, dark wood and wicker, immaculate white tablecloths and simple glassware, with that touch of oriental minimalism that has been so fashionable in recent years. As you enter this long sliver of a restaurant from street level, you pass the gleaming kitchen, a hive of activity, and arrive in the seating area where the small terrace captures your attention, and then the blue ocean beyond. It’s an idyllic spot, especially at sunset – it faces west.
Given great food and stylish surroundings the only thing to complete your dining experience would be great service. You won’t be disappointed. The staff at 88 have that, apparently hard to achieve, combination of professionalism and friendliness you would like everywhere you eat.
The number 8 is lucky in eastern cultures, so double 8 should be doubly lucky, but truly I think luck has little to do with the success of this gem of an eatery, and everything to do with its conception and the way in which it is run.
Category : food and drink
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