After our successful venture into tapas-dining in Sevilla at Duo Tapas, K and I were keen to make the most of our time in Barcelona and enjoy more tapas meals. Unfortunately, he was struck down with the flu during our time so we spent time recuperating at home and didn’t head out as much as we would have liked. Still, we managed to squeeze in a few good meals, and our tapas lunch at Jai-Ca in the Barceloneta district definitely was a highlight!
Recommended by our Airbnb host as one of his favourite restaurants in Barcelona, it came with a caveat – “you like seafood right?” Jai-Ca is known as a tapas restaurant that specialises in seafood, as the owner comes from a family of fishermen – a lot of their dishes come directly from the family fishing boat!
We started our meal with a few of the complimentary nibblies from the kitchen – a small selection of olives, gherkins and carrots pickled in a chilli sauce. The chilli was very subtle, but a nice addition as we hadn’t experienced many chilli flavours in our travels as it just doesn’t seem to be used as often in French and Spanish cuisine.
The first tapas dish to come to our table was fresh fried Cod Fritters – and it’s nice to see the cooks in the open kitchen preparing your tapas right in front of your eyes! These fritters had a lovely crispy batter and a soft centre, not unlike a croqueta but with a more rustic appearance. The cod mix was very well herbed and just that little bit cheesy as well. Absolutely delicious!
The Spanish Omelette was delivered with two slices of Barcelona’s famous tomato bread – basically just baguette slices soaked in a tomato salsa sauce. The omelette was really more like a slice of cake rather than a traditional flat omelette. Surprisingly, the multiple layers of thinly sliced potato all cooked through evenly without some of the mushy or overcooked parts that you might reasonably expect. A warning that the omelette is very eggy though, which may not suit all tastes.
The large grill with its dancing flames is a real highlight in the open kitchen. We ordered the Grilled Squid, and I completely fell in love with the delicate smoky charring on the tender squid. It’s with dishes like this that you truly begin to understand why seafood is the highlight of Jai-Ca, as this was absolutely the freshest squid you could find anywhere in Barcelona. The super tender and creamy flesh on the body required almost required no chewing whatsoever, while the squid tentacles were nice and crispy and crunchy. A winning dish all around.
The next dish we ordered was the Anchovy with Fried Fishbone, apparently the house specialty. While the two slices of anchovy were just as salty as you would imagine (it’s not for everyone!), the fish bones were absolutely delicious. Fried in a thin herbed and salted batter, these bones were super crunchy and tasty. I’m only disappointed that there were so few fishbones offered in the dish, as I could have easily eaten it all by myself without sharing with K!
We finished off our meal with another dish from the grill – two plump and juicy Grilled Prawns. With a bit of lemon squeezed over the fish, the marinated prawns were just delicious, bursting in your mouth with a strong ocean flavour. I’m not normally a fan of sucking prawn heads, but I did in this case as they were so fresh that you didn’t get that dirty savoury flavour that you would normally get with prawn heads.
Jai-Ca serves up some amazing tapas dishes. It’s not the cheapest restaurant around by any means, and you’ll find many other tapas restaurants for almost half the price. Don’t cheap out though – go to Jai-Ca because you will know for sure that the seafood you’re eating is by far the freshest you will find anywhere in Barcelona. I’d definitely go back the next time I’m in Barcelona!
Jai-Ca is located at 13 Carrer de Ginebra, Barcelona.