facefoodmag ENlisbon

Victor Jardim. Kabuki, mediterranean-Japanese cuisine

Victor Jardim. Kabuki, mediterranean-Japanese cuisine

Victor, Sebastião and Filipe © ffmag

Housed in the prestigious Ritz Galleries at the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz, Kabuki Lisboa won a sought-after Michelin Star in its opening year. This gastronomic concept is not conventional, it has established a unique connection to Portugal’s rich historic relationship with the sea and its pioneering role as the first European country to make contact with Japan.

Kabuki Lisboa has an elegant design and is spread across three levels, each of which offers a different culinary experience. Customers can visit the cocktail bar for aperitifs and digestifs, the main dining room and its sushi bar for sashimi, usuzukuri, nigiri, maki and much more, and a bright space on the top floor where the menu focuses on a different ingredient each day. Food at Kabuki Lisboa fuses Japanese and Mediterranean cuisine and is notable for the high quality of its Portuguese ingredients. Víctor Jardim, manager of Kabuki Lisboa, reveals the secrets to the restaurant’s success.


How are you? How is 2024 looking?
Really good, we’re really happy, very focused and excited to carry on working to keep our Michelin star. 

What new developments are there with regard to the Kabuki team?
The team is going to change in 2024. We have a new chef: Sebastião Coutino, who will take charge of the kitchen at Kabuki. He was part of the team as sous chef when the restaurant opened and now he’ll have the new challenge of running the whole kitchen and being the Kabuki chef, but he has the experience and training to do a great job. Our other aim with regard to the team is to carry on working on the dining room, like we’ve done since day one. To focus on staff, on training them, so that customers have the best possible experience at Kabuki. Ultimately, it’s down to everyone: the kitchen, dining room, sommeliers, bar and also the door staff.

Chef Sebastião Coutino, Kabuki, Lisbon

Sebastião Coutino © Arlei Lima

What are the main premises that define Kabuki?
The most important thing is respect for the product. That and good customer service (we really focus on the customer experience) and the well-being of the team. I think those are our strongest points. We try to constantly train the team. And training a 30-strong team isn’t easy but whenever someone new joins, we try to go over all the service procedures that we’ve created since the beginning, what Kabuki is. It’s about establishing a clear list of procedures and making sure everyone who joins the team knows them really well, from the kitchen to the dining room. 

What are the differences between Kabuki Portugal and Kabuki Spain?
They have the same basis. But here we’re trying to give the Kabuki project a Portuguese identity. We’re doing the same that Kabuki did in Spain: fusing Japanese cuisine with Spanish dishes. But we do it with Portuguese products. 

We’re trying to give the Kabuki project a Portuguese identity

What differences have you noticed with regard to the products used at Kabuki Spain and Portugal?
In Portugal, we have a bigger variety of fish because we work with fish from the Azores and the Portuguese coast... Specifically, the biggest difference we have here is the white fish we use. These products mean we can do specials that you probably wouldn’t find at Kabuki Spain.

Yasai nabe. Restaurant Kabuki Lisbon

Yasai nabe © Arlei Lima

Asian-Japanese food has grown rapidly in Lisbon over the past five years. What stage do think it’s at now?
It’s grown a lot and I think it’s still going to grow a bit more. More Japanese restaurants are going to open at different types of level. And I think it’s great. Five years ago, there were only two or three Japanese restaurants in Lisbon. In terms of us, I’m really proud to have come to Portugal, opened a restaurant and won a star in the first year with our Japanese haute cuisine concept, the service we offer... It’s really good for the restaurant and for the customer too. Because they can choose what they want to eat: they won’t just find “all you can eat” sushi in Lisbon. We’re not a sushi restaurant. We offer something very different that didn’t yet exist in Lisbon when we opened: fusion, a transformation between Japanese cuisine and Mediterranean food. The quality of our dishes and the service we offer customers... Together everything comprises a unique experience and that’s what you have to appreciate. 

We’re not a sushi restaurant. We offer something very different that didn’t yet exist in Lisbon when we opened

What do you see when you look to the future?
I think the future will be great for us because we’ll keep on working at a good, constant pace each day. We want to keep on like this for a long time and you achieve that with hard work and focusing on everything we’ve talked about. We’ll keep on looking for the best seafood suppliers. We’ll keep treating customers with the utmost respect, keep offering the highest level of service, and we want to continue along our path of fusion, technique and new experiences. Sebastião, our new chef, has just returned from Japan full of ideas, so I think we’ll easily be able to carry on the work we started in 2021.

Restaurant Kabuki Lisbon

Kabuki © Arlei Lima

How would you describe Kabuki in one word?
"TEAM". Team is the most important word for Kabuki Lisboa. Everything that has been achieved in these first two years has been due to the work of an excellent team; kitchen, F&B and marketing team. Without this group of people, nothing would be possible, all the people who make up this team contribute to the daily success of this restaurant, working towards a single goal: to make our customers' experience unforgettable.

What would you recommend to a diner who visits Kabuki for the first time?
I’d tell them to order the tasting menu because it’s a journey through all the Kabukis that we’ve opened over the past 20 years. The experience is served in acts, almost imitating the acts in Japanese theatre. And if it’s the second, third or fourth visit (we have lots of repeat customers), I’d recommend that they put themselves in our hands. Because they know they can trust us and that’s the way they’ll enjoy it the most.

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