Ibiza foodies

Chef’s Choice – NOJA by Cotton

The omakase raw fish restaurant welcomes a new chef for summer 2023.

Welcoming a brand new, Michelin-trained sushi master to the chopping board this summer, NOJA by Cotton, the Tokyo-inspired omakase restaurant in Ibiza town, promises to elevate its concept even higher.

Words: Abby Lowe

Ibiza is a versatile destination when it comes to dining. There are exuberant restaurants combining gastronomy with performance; traditional restaurants helmed by the same family for generations; and beautiful restaurants in breath-taking destinations. But recently, the most in-demand of them all is the omakase restaurant. Translated from Japanese to mean ‘chef’s choice’, these predominantly sushi venues are the ultimate stamp of culinary precision, mastery and craftsmanship. Headed up by chefs who have dedicated their entire lives to the art of sushi, they offer unique experiences every single night, and the first of its kind on the island was NOJA by Cotton.

Internationally revered sushi chef Pedro Farinha joins the NOJA by Cotton team this season – opening tonight!

Tucked away on a side street in the heart of Ibiza town, NOJA by Cotton is where centuries of Japanese traditions and produce sourced from the icy seas of Norway collide. An exclusive, intimate fine dining space with only 24 covers at one time, it’s where the chef is afforded ultimate creativity within the confines of years’ worth of strict training. This summer, internationally revered sushi chef Pedro Farinha is behind the chopping board at the much-acclaimed raw fish restaurant, and with multiple accolades to his name and an abundance of flourish, diners are in for an astonishing gastronomical experience.

Farinha has devoted the past 15 years of his career to acquiring the skills, technique and knowledge that form the essential pillars of becoming what’s known as an itamae — the head sushi chef who prepares food in full view of his customers. The path began in his home country of Portugal before he was called to Norway, the home of some of the best fish and seafood in the world, and where the majority of his training unfolded. In recent years, he’s been behind the sushi bar at Hanami, the esteemed Oslo waterfront restaurant, and he took part in the Nordic Sushi Cup in 2020, the competition’s final year.

It was under the guidance of the lauded sushi master Roger Joya that Farinha’s education really began. He was taken under his wing at the chef’s restaurant, Sabi Omakase, one of only three sushi restaurants in Scandinavia boasting Michelin stars. That experience led to him being officially accredited by the All Japan Sushi Association, and now he’s swapping the cold climes and fabulous fjords of Norway for the blue skies and sunny shores of Ibiza, where he plans to unleash his kitchen prowess in the serene surrounds of NOJA by Cotton, striving to make the best sushi available anywhere on the island.

A contemporary space where decor is minimal (all eyes should be on the perfectly prepared plate), NOJA by Cotton is characterised by a blond wood countertop that seats a maximum of 14, and five individual tables for two. Tableware has been handmade with care, and every detail is exact and considered, like the art of sushi itself. In keeping with omakase tradition, there is no menu, and instead guests are taken on a winding culinary journey of the chef’s choosing that envelops the fresh fish caught that day — that hour, even — and morsels of short grain rice, prepared and unveiled only moments before serving.

Sample Farinha’s sensorial creations such as silky o-toro tartar, delectable chutoro nigiri, a luxe raw lobster nigiri and much more.

Sushi purists will need no introduction to the sensorial pleasures they can expect but for those new to the omakase concept at NOJA by Cotton, think plump o-toro (the most marbled part of tuna) tartar served with smoked soy, grated fresh wasabi root, and katsuobushi. Then, using a different cut of tuna, there’s the delectable chutoro nigiri accompanied by vintage Madeira, umeboshi, and wasabi sesame; and a luxurious raw lobster nigiri paired with smoked soy, olive wood and lime zest. Tastebuds are treated to a ceremony of carefully enhanced and created flavours, all designed to be relished in that very moment.

Such is the precision timing of each course, in fact, that diners are requested to observe strict reservation times. There are two sittings at NOJA by Cotton each evening, but even the smallest delay can hinder or alter the taste of a piece of sushi, given the amount of love, care, and meticulousness put into each morsel by the itamae. This is all part and parcel of being a sushi chef, in which exceptionally high standards are always upheld – there is a constant quest for excellence, and an acknowledgement that it could take a lifetime to achieve.

Itamae such as Farinha are on a constant quest for excellence, with an acknowledgement that it could take a lifetime to achieve.

To view this level of expertise in action is a priceless experience in itself — every slice, every pinch, every movement is deliberate — but to subsequently sample the fruits of such dexterity and accomplishment makes dining at NOJA by Cotton a truly unforgettable occasion. Underpinned by ancient traditions, enlivened by creative innovation, and brought to life by the unparalleled Cotton Lifestyle Group, which shows nothing but dedication to Ibiza’s gastronomic scene, this is a dining experience that sushi devotees simply can’t afford to miss.