Rebirth in Kobe
Kobe can feel, on a sunny spring morning, like
the tree-lined boulevards of a European capital. It is spacious
and, when the air is right, it is a beautiful place. It has long
been an international city and was once upon a time one of the only
entry points for travelers from the west.
The nightlife and the restaurants of the port
city reflect this international nature, and no-where more than Tierra
Nasca, whose recent refurbishment has raised both the culinary and
nightlife standards in the city. Patrons may remember the bar from
its previous incarnation, where Latin nights and belly dancing brought
some sweat and spice to the city. The restaurant hosted a carnival
event in February, bringing a little taste of Rio to Kobe during
the cold winter months.
From the beginning of March, Mourad Azzouz, with
the help and support of his brother Emmanuel, has focused on the
culinary aspects of the international theme. However, they still
reserve Saturday nights for their trademark Latin nights, with the
usual energy and passion that their regulars have come to expect,
and retain their reputation as the best place for Latin music in
Kansai. There is also a schedule of live performances, including
Salsa, Latin and Arabian nights. The famous belly dancing shows
will also continue. For those who are interested, but a little unsure
on their feet, there are also flamenco and salsa lessons. Contact
the restaurant or stop by to pick up a schedule.
Prior to the refit, Tierra Nasca served mostly
Peruvian food, but the menu has been significantly expanded to incorporate
dishes from the Middle East, North Africa, the Mediterranean and
Southern Europe. Think cous cous, shish kebab, paella and mussels
in white beer. The food is delicate and the portions sizable. Main
dishes range from ¥1,100 to ¥1,700, with smaller portions
served as side dishes from ¥800 to ¥1,200, meaning that
diners can sample a range of flavours without breaking the bank.
Mourad and Emmanuels Algerian and French heritage make them
natural authorities on a wide variety of styles and tastes.
The interior is striking, with a large Aztec-inspired
fixture dominating one wall, with the trademark high bar stools
providing ample seating at the bar. The free-standing tables have
been largely replaced with comfortable bench seating along the wall,
and the result is an atmosphere more conducive to eating and relaxing.
In addition, the floors and tables have been replaced. The interior
is, as one would expect, eclectic, and mixes styles in a subtle
yet impressive way.
One of the best things about Tierra Nasca is, Mourad tells me, the
regulars. They are, he says, like a family, and the
atmosphere they bring to the place makes it a warm, cozy destination,
no matter how many times youve been there. There is a mix
of people from all over the world, so no matter where you come from,
or what language you speak, there is a good chance you will find
some kindred spirits there.
Tierra Nasca also provides a language exchange
service, and can refer you to teachers from all over the globe,
representing whatever language you wish to learn. It is, at once,
a referral service and a great place to practise.
Bistrot café de Nasca
B1, 2-13-13 Yamamoto-dori,
Open: Sunday to Thursday 6pm to 3 am, Fridays and Saturdays 6pm
Nearest train station: Sannomiya