I love the Algarvean countryside and Portuguese food. Don’t get me wrong. But from time to time I crave authentic Japanese food. Even more so after our incredible trip through Japan. Yes, you can file this under first world problems. So when my friend Annelies – local hero – shared here enthusiasm about a Japanese restaurant in the centre of Loulé, our lunch destination for the next day presented itself. Artigo três, cozinha Japonese is the name.
Artigo três, from Tokyo to Algarve
The sushi bar – traditional Japanese cuisine – is open for about a year and is owned by two young entrepreneurs Hiroshi and Shogo. Hiroshi spend the last five years in Vancouver and chef Shogo exchanged Nobu Tokyo – of all places – for the little, historical village of Loulé in Algarve.
Why here? Hiroshi tells me that, once decided to open a sushi bar in Europe, their first concern was not the location of the restaurant but where the best fresh fish is.
That’s how their journey ended in Loulé, literally next to the famous Arabian style market hall. The ‘Mercado Municipal’ where they not only sell the freshest fish and seafood but also regional specialties and agricultural local produce from both Algarve and Alentejo. East meets West.
What’s on the menu at Artigo três?
The small menu – with an additional handwritten daily recommendations of the chef – offers dishes that meet up to high international culinary standards. The flavour of the miso soup was amazing. As were my salmon sashimi and vinegrated mackerel.
Mr. B. opted for Ebi Mayo, fried prawns with Japanese mayo, and the taste matches the presentation. Both excellent. As was the vegetarian avocado roll, simple but perfect. These dishes were our first time benchmark choices of food. Looking forward to come back – very! -soon and try other favorites. The wasabi is also freshly made.
Both the food and the service of the staff have that elegant and calm Japanese energy I came to appreciate so much after our Japan travels. We were seated in the middle of the – minimalistic style – restaurant. Next time I’d like to sit at the bar since I love watching the chef prepare the dishes in utmost concentration.
Funky detail, the chopsticks rest on a peanut shell. To eat or not to eat, was the question. We didn’t dare.
Long story short, the best Japanese food I have ever had in Portugal. Besides takeaway they also have a small deli with original Japanese comestibles to bring home.
So, lucky us. We’ve now have the real Japanese deal close to home. Another perk to living in the Portuguese countryside. Domo arigato!