The Kabuki Group has always been known as a standard bearer for Japanese cuisine in Spain. Until very recently, it boasted three Michelin stars (two for its two Madrid restaurants and one for Kabuki in Tenerife).

This year, however, they have achieved one more star for the acclaimed Kabuki Raw at the Finca Cortesín Hotel. This is quite a feat for The Finca Cortesín Group, which has made a great (and fruitful) commitment to the Kabuki concept, benefitting from Kabuki’s expertise in the culinary sector to enable Finca Cortesín to shine in the gastronomic sphere.

Don’t be fooled by the name; Kabuki Raw may serve a plethora of uncooked temptations, but it also captivates lovers of warm delights such as wagyu beef, tempura and fried rice.

‘Raw’ refers to the produce but also to the pure, unadulterated passion for the Japanese tradition, with its emphasis on exquisite ingredients, harmonious presentation and the ideal order of things.

Fish is very big at this restaurant – think fresh, buttery pez limón, mero, turbot… traditional and surprising choices given new life by delicate sauces and a pleasing display of colour and elegance.

Finca Cortesín is, as one would expect, delighted at having achieved the first Michelin star for Kabuki Raw. Chef, Luis Olarra, recalls that he was actually dining at Kabuki Wellington in Madrid when he received the great news; “Ricardo (Sanz, who founded Kabuki alongside José Antonio Aparicio) received the award for us… it was a wonderful surprise as, though someone from the restaurant is invited to the Michelin event, you never know if you will actually obtain an award.”

The coveted Michelin star is a beacon that guides a restaurant to excellence, and Luis and his team at the Finca Cortesín seem to have come across the winning algorithm to ascend to sublime heights.

Luis whips up traditional Japanese dishes bearing dashes of magic derived from the Mediterranean and northern Spanish traditions. Take his calamari usuzukuri en escabeche (a fine slice of fish served in a vinegar and white wine sauce), or the bonito tataki with ponzu sauce.

Following the awarding of the star, Luis intends on “sticking to what we do best,” with dishes that often present the very finest fish and seafood delights that the Coast has to offer. “Our ultimate aim is to progress consistently, so we continue to be recognised for our work.”

At Kabuki Raw, diners tuck into a tasting menu comprising 13 dishes, including various types of tataki, sashimi and tartare. Then there is the Chef’s selection of sushi, or surprises such as the raw chanquetes (the latter are usually deep fried and served at chiringuitos along the Coast) or the tuna cheeks in teriyaki sauce with a colourful tsukemono vegetable medley.

All dishes are made with sustainable fish and top quality produce, ensuring every bite is as healthy as it is tasty. Desserts are also big in this restaurant; talented Chef, José Ángel Bermejo, dreams up delicate delights such as a yuzu crème with white chocolate, candied dried fruit and red fruits.

Luis took on the reigns of Kabuki Raw when he was still in his 20s, quite a feat for a Chef, yet one accepted with great aplomb. His confidence largely derives from an innate talent and work ethic, while much of his inspiration is obtained from his travels. “The Hotel closes during the month of February and I take advantage of the free time.

This year, I visited the País Vasco, as well as Barcelona, Madrid and Japan.” He fondly recalls dining at a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Tokyo which once again expressed “the immense flavour of Japanese cuisine despite its essential simplicity, and the careful way in which it is prepared.”

These experiences inspire Luis and remind him how satisfying it is to cook for his appreciative audience, who enjoy viewing the Chef and his synchronised team at work, thanks to the open kitchen setting. Kabuki Raw may have its much-merited star (and two suns in the Repsol Guide), but for Finca Cortesín and Luis Olarra, it is ultimately about making diners happy.

Words Marisa Cutillas / Photography Kevin Horn

Ctra. de Casares km 2, Casares. Tel: 952 937 800.