Ibiza restaurants: La Gaia – Five-star perfection

There’s no denying that foodies these days unequivocally know their stuff. They want excellence at all times, ingredients must be the very best available, and the ambience should be perfect. This is the exact reason La Gaia at Ibiza Gran Hotel – the island’s only Five-Star Grand Luxe rated resort – is held in such high esteem, because here every little detail is flawless. A dining experience taken seamlessly to levels beyond excellence, thanks to star chef Óscar Molina, diners can be confident they’ll be immersed in sensory heaven, and time after time – without fail – that’s what they get.

Perhaps the best way of discovering all the delights of the inspired Japeruvian cuisine is by diving into the tasting menu. More than just dinner, this experience takes you on an exhilarating journey through flavour designed by the true mastermind of Japeruvian cuisine, Chef Óscar. A unique fusion of Nikkei and Peruvian cultures brought alive by state-of-the-art techniques, Japeruvian joins two worlds harmoniously, in the process creating a brand new style of gastronomy that frequently leaves guests stunned and foodies in a frame of total bliss.

This masterpiece of cuisine naturally has roots in years of Chef Óscar’s experience and of course, a smidgeon of his creative genius. A chef who initially plied his trade alongside his father, he has now accrued over 20 years of experience in world-beating restaurants all across the globe. It’s at Ibiza Gran Hotel however, that he chose to unfurl his one-of-a-kind vision, and fortunately for islanders and visitors alike, his exclusive Japeruvian style. With the Japeruvian tasting menu, diners are encouraged to really sample his acumen, while fortunately for all involved, digging into first-class plates of food renowned as Ibiza’s very best.

On arrival at La Gaia, guests are greeted with a welcome cocktail – think pisco sours or Yuki Fujis, seated in the stunningly bright, natural space, and then given an appetiser to whet the palette before embarking on further courses. What follows is a whirlwind of delight. Guests are then presented with a specially selected Amélie oyster, followed by Croaker fish tiradito with basil and jalapeño flavoured sauce – the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, and then pickled baby beetroot with coconut textures, horseradish tartare and watercress. A dish that’s as beautiful as it is delicious.

Moving into the second half of the menu, more hearty, wholesome dishes begin to appear. The chef selects a plate of mouth-watering nigiri – using only the finest fresh fish, of course. This is followed by barbecued monkfish cheeks, or cocotxas, as this specially used part of the fish’s face is called in the Basque country, from where it hails. The final savoury course is Ibizan lamb belly, which harks back to Chef Óscar’s passion for using locally-sourced ingredients where possible. Dessert is two-fold. First: chilled, exotic fresh fruit, and second: a richly-delicious bowl of chocolate and peanuts – with a twist, naturally.

It’s highly recommended to accompany this Japeruvian-inspired feast with the specially curated wine tasting menu, and of course, to ask questions where required – the highly-trained staff are more than willing to explain the meaning of certain ingredients that feature on the menu. Ponzu, for example, is a refreshing dressing made from yuzu and rice vinegar, often found in Japanese cooking, while chica morada is a Peruvian variety of purple corn grown in the Andes mountains. In fact, an awareness of what’s featured on the menu brings a whole new level of admiration for the chef and kitchen.

It’s fair to say that La Gaia is unlike any other dining destination on Ibiza and what you get with the Japeruvian tasting menu is just a small sample of one man’s enchanting culinary vision – an opportunity to dive into two stunningly rich flavour cultures. “I’m a person who likes to see things done properly, with passion and spirit that is transmitted via the senses,” says Chef Óscar. “I admire chefs who  reinvent themselves, who create new concepts and set trends on the basis of new ideas.” And therein lies the secret of success.