maguro (tuna back) tartare uramaki (inside out roll) with avocado topping

Otoro Lab – Japanese Bites in Chiaia, Napoli

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Otoro Lab is a spinoff from Otoro81, which is one of the best Japanese restaurants in Napoli. Recently, they opened two Otoro Labs, one in Vomero at Via Gian Lorenzo Bernini and one in Chiaia at Piazza dei Martiri. I went to the outlet in Chiaia for an outdoor dinner to sample the simplified menu of what they call Japanese Fusion.

Even though I really like Otoro81 and consider it as one of the best options around, I was underwhelmed by the overall atmosphere and layout of the restaurant and terrace as well as the offering on the menu, which is limited to fixed sets of maki and sashimi alongside some starters. I might try out the Vomero outlet as well, which seems to have a larger and more sophisticated indoor restaurant and it might provide a more intriguing experience.

Anyway, we went for some ebi tempura (fried shrimp) and some Fiano di Avelino white wine while waiting for the main dish. We opted for the a luxury uramaki set that in comparison to other places around was quite underwhelming. Even though it looked nice, in the end all rolls where more or less identical and covered with dressing, rendering the taste of the fish a bit indistinguishable. We had maguro (tuna back) uramaki (inside out roll) with maguro topping, ebi (shrimp) uramaki (inside out roll) with zuzuki (sea bass) topping, sake (salmon) uramaki (inside out roll) with gari (pickled ginger) topping, maguro (tuna back) tartare uramaki (inside out roll) with avocado topping and ebi tempura (fried shrimp) uramaki (inside out roll) with ebi (shrimp) topping. It was not bad, but also not great.

Sushi Guide Verdict

Overall, Otoro Lab seemed to be a nice new addition to the realm of sushi restaurants in Napoli, but did not live up the expectations. Being associated with Otoro81, a premium Japanese restaurant, it really disappointed both from a perspective of atmosphere as well as from culinary experience. The menu options are limited, but even more drastically the dishes offered all focus on the same ingredients, mainly tuna back, salmon and shrimp. Considering it is an upscale and expensive restaurant, this is hardy what I would expect. The food quality is good but due to the heavy use of sauce and dressing, the taste is somewhat indistinct and does not pay tribute to the ingredients or to Japanese cuisine in general. The drink menu is limited as well, but some nice wines are available. The service was nice and forthcoming, but also there was not flexility to adjust fixed sets from the menu to our desires. All in all, it was not a bad experience, but certainly not what I expected from Otoro Lab.

Menu Options
Food Quality
Drink Variety

Review date: January 7, 2022

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