Tell me about a Thai restaurant with an Australian chef and I’ll be sceptical but tell me about a Vietnamese restaurant with a Vietnamese chef who is actually from Vietnam and has been cooking Pho all of his/her life then I’ll come running. Call me a racist, I don’t give a damn. My Foodie logic and experience tells me that when it comes to home cooking, it’s best to stay as close to home as possible. So when I heard about a sushi restaurant that’s operated by a Japanese chef, I got pretty excited and made arrangements to check it out right away.
Located in the Quinto Camacho neighbourhood Arigato is a small operation run by Kenji and Maki Tokai. Many years ago while working for an NGO, Maki came to Colombia and like many of us expats fell in love with this exotic land. Kenji at the time was already working in the fish industry in Yokohama but it didn’t take long for Maki to convince her husband to join her in Colombia. Once settled, Kenji became the head of sushi at Wok, a popular restaurant chain known for its sushi and other popular Asian cuisines. After several years at Wok, Kenji and Maki fulfilled their dreams and opened their own restaurant, Arigato. Maki says that their mission with Arigato is to show Colombians what real sushi is as well other traditional Japanese food.
Walking in, you can tell that the owners have intended to give the place a homely feel. I knew just from the smell that the food was going to be AA (authentic and amazing). The walls are adorned with photos of Japan and Japanese artwork with the chefs working quietly in the back. It’s a non-pretentious space where lovers of sushi gather to enjoy what real sushi is like in a relaxed environment. There were times where I felt like I was transported back to a local restaurant in Japan.
While extensive, it’s clear from looking at the menu that the specialty here is sushi. There are well over 20 different sushi dishes, each having a mouth-watering affect on the diner. Arigato also offers other Japanese classics such as Katsu curry, Tempura and Ramen. Needless to say, the options are overwhelming so I suggest going in a group so you can sample a bunch of different things.
We got two different sushi platters plus a platter of Tempura between four people. All three dishes exceeded our standards but as I said before the specialty here is the sushi. As much as I’d like to dig in on some Katsu curry, I am pretty sure that I will be ordering sushi every time I go back to Arigato. Maki explained to me that what separates their product from other more popular restaurants such as Wok is the freshness of their fish, which all come from Bahia Solano in the department of Chocó which is located on the pacific coast. As Bogotá is a mountain town, fresh fish from the ocean is not exactly hard to get so most of the fish have to be frozen in order to make the trip. Not for Arigato. Their fish is caught fresh every night and flown in fresh the following morning. Now that’s customer service.
Deep fried vegetables and sea food? Yes please.
A combination of salmon, tuna, eel and prawns. The salmon and eel are a favourite and I’ll definitely be ordering a side portion of that next time. Just after one bite, we all agreed that this was hands down the best sushi in Bogotá that we’ve had so far.
This was a more commercial platter of sushi as unbeknownst to me, we ordered sushi with tonkatsu (fried pork). Pretty tasty but I will definitely stick to the fish next time.
Beginning from 7 April 2015, Arigato will be moving into a new place near Atlantis Plaza which I will definitely be visiting very soon. This is a must go for anyone who likes sushi or Japanese food in general.
Mon-Sat : 11am-9pm