Buenos Aires is one of the best cities in the world for dining experiences, with perfect steak, a huge Italian culture meaning fabulous pizza, and tons of amazing restaurants and dinner shows that make for a really cool experience. Our best meal there – possibly our best meal of the whole trip – was also one of the most exciting, from closed-door restaurant Io Sono Shokuhin in the fancy Palermo district. Just finding the restaurant was an adventure; the renovated old townhouse had no name outside, so we had to ring the bell to be let in. As a closed door restaurant, reservations are a must, which gives the experience a really private, exclusive feel.
The restaurant itself is on the top floor of the building, where we also saw the We Are Tango show on the Saturday night, run by the same company. It’s a quiet, intimate restaurant with a gorgeous, modern design. The colour scheme of clean whites, black wood furnishings and red trimmings is fabulously simple but really rich, while the small size of the dining room really adds to the feeling of being inside an exclusive club.
Our host and waiter, Ignacio, was absolutely fantastic and is one of the reasons we enjoyed the experience so much. Super attentive, he looked after our every need and was really sweet and friendly, too. Besides information about the food and the wines, he was happy to chat to us between courses and was constantly making sure everything was ok; asking us to tell him if anything was wrong with the food and joking that he likes the excuse to “bust the chef’s balls”.
An Italian-Japanese fusion, Io Sono Shokuhin seems like a pretty strange option for Argentina, but as I mentioned before, Buenos Aires has a really big Italian culture from the years of European immigration after it’s founding. The gap between Italian and Japanese dining may be pretty big, but the fusion is all about bringing together elements that at first glance sound incompatible: Io Sono Shokuhin quote the Japanese proverb undei no sa, meaning the difference between clouds and mud.
Perfectly blending flavours and textures from both cultures, the Io Sono Shokuhin chef has created a six course meal which is truly fantastic. We started with a fresh caprese salad with age dofu (hot tofu) in a lemongrass sauce. The light, clean flavours were a fabulous way to start a meal, paving the way for the next dish of sweet, sticky chicken spiedini satay; tiny skewers with chicken and cherry tomatoes in a peanut sauce, these were absolutely fabulous and I could have eaten dozens of them. Everything was presented with elegance and style, and the food was exquisitely beautiful.
All the courses were matched with the perfect wine by the chef, with all wines sourced from Argentina. With the first two courses, we had a Chardonnay from the wine-region of Mendoza, where we’d just come from. The second two courses were served with a rich and delicious-smelling Malbec, from Winery Azul in Mendoza, which complemented the heavier main dishes perfectly. The first of these was my favourite of the whole meal: a divine, perfectly cooked salmon teriyaki served on a bed of penne rigate, a wonderful fusion of Italy and Japan. Next up was ivoltini di lomo, a meltingly tender beef fillet served in a slightly spicy mushroom sauce that was gorgeous with the Malbec.
The fish course, a spicy sea food curry with buttery-soft calamari, prawns and richly flavoured rice, was served with a Torrontes, which Ignacio called the only true Argentine wine as it is made from the Torrontes grape which only grows in Argentina. Fresh and aromatic, it went perfectly with the light curry.
Dessert was something truly unique and very Japanese; banana tempura with green tea ice cream. This last part was particularly surprising, although it tasted almost exactly like green tea, it was super sweet and absolutely delicious, not at all how I would have expected. A sweet dessert wine to go with the final course topped off the meal perfectly, and left us feeling truly satisfied.
From start to finish, the closed-door Japanese-Italian fusion experience at Io Sono Shokuhin was absolutely fantastic: delicious food, excellent Argentine wines, and wonderful service in a truly gorgeous setting. If you’re in the Buenos Aires and looking for a classy but exciting dining experience, I strongly recommend this amazing restaurant.
Io Sono Shokuhin is currently open on Thursdays at 10PM, Fridays at 8 PM and 10 PM, and Saturdays at 10 PM. Booking is required; so make your reservation here.
Throughout their launching month, the Io Sono Shokuhin experience has a promotional price of $30 USD, so book now. Normal price is $60 USD.
NB – my phone battery died, leaving me with no pictures of the meal or restaurant – but I can vouch that the ones I’ve used from the Io Sono Shokuhin restaurant are accurate – the food really is that good!
Want to know more about travelling in Argentina? Check out the Argentina section on my sister site, Backpack South America.