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And God created Zela

Japan meets the Mediterranean at stylish new Ibiza restaurant hangout, open until dawn.


There's a new kid on the sweeping avenue 8 de Agosto in Ibiza Town and it's a place where you can hang out ‘til dawn, yes really. Zela is a new restaurant that fuses the Spanish Mediterranean and a bit beyond met by the tastes of Japan and Asia.

Inside the restaurant and indeed outside, expect deep levels of sumptuousness. The handcrafted tiles on the walls of the bar, where the head chef holds court, and on the floor are exquisite. It's a decor that suggests a place that is serious about what it does.

Outside Mediterranean shrubs, myriad plants, a vertical garden and gold-mirrored art deco-styled screens give the place the air of stylish modernity, class and elegance. Colours of dark green and floral designs help show the blending of the two cultures of east and west. This space is ideal to lose yourself for an entire evening and well, early morning we suppose. You will feel the same.

The launch in Ibiza is important as it will be the testbed for possible global expansion. A ‘zela', by the way, is a rare, beautiful and nocturnal butterfly that hails from south-east Asia. This spirit is infused into what the restaurant Zela is all about.

The head chef Ricardo Sanz, has four Michelin stars under his belt for the superior chain of Kabuki restaurants in Spain. Whilst the spice and flavour is of the east, the bulk of the produce is not: the restaurant carefully selects the freshest, seasonal food that's as local as possible.

Shake the gin, wake the gin

The cocktail waiter made me the most fabulous rosemary infused gin cocktail with a kind of grapefruit spritzer - amazing. It was a joy to taste the fruits of this dapper mixologist, who expertly blended my drink to perfection. My dining companion agreed.

When our aperitivo arrived, it left us feeling that this alone was an auspicious moment for the rest of the food. Tiny glimmering porcelain bowls arrived with a modern and deeply delicious take on the Spanish classic, gazpacho with fine noodles. Oysters and a dipping sauce of mirin and soy sauce were served next, a description that does not do the dish justice. The balance of flavours of the sauce, not too potent not too pungent, was a divine complement to those delicious molluscs, which were evidently of the best quality. If heaven is a place on earth, this appetiser was it.

A fish to remember

We were then treated to something you might expect in a Japanese supper club: a whole red Scorpion fish on a plate, replete with slightly snarling open mouth. What passed my lips was so, so tender and delicate that I almost stole it away to eat it all myself. It was also the first time I had seen and tasted fresh wasabi, grated in front of us, much like a block of parmesan reggiano in a good Italian restaurant. We could not get enough.

As a British person you may think that fish and chips was in my DNA. It is not; however, I found a new passion for the dish of my motherland in Sanz's expression of it. Small pieces of John Dory, with fried cubes of potato and tiny crispy bits were, for me at least, an out of this world experience.

Those bits by the way are fried pieces of batter that remain in the fryer and which are sprinkled over your fish and chip supper as a condiment. If this dish can convert a fussy person like me, it can convert anyone.

If you like fish and seafood or even if you don't then come to Zela because this place will change your mind about creatures from the sea. Your health might just improve too. We watched as glittering dishes with much promise came. Sushi that was better than any sushi: raw and flambeed salmon, lobster flavoured with lime, King prawns with a rich prawn bisque that was the very definition of flavoursome. We could say more, but you really need to try for yourself.

There will be meat

If you really must only eat meat, then know that the dishes they do for the carnivore are also excellent. We tried what was perhaps the most tender piece of slow cooked Wagyu beef known to man; this was a kind of sushi-styled dish with thin strips of duck breast and a mini-broth with shiitake mushrooms, black pudding and mussels to keep with the seafood theme.

To conclude this performance, we had their home made chocolate truffles, spiced with a special Japanese chilli, which were so good that I asked for a box to take the rest home and then greedily ate them all myself. Whoops!

Zela is a treat for the senses and should be on your list of top restaurants to visit on Ibiza. We devoured all that was put in front of us with gusto. So will yoo. Que aproveche.


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