Tabi is a Japanese Fusion restaurant in the Santa Lucia area of Naples, close to the Castel dell’Ovo, Piazza del Plebiscito and Chiaia. It caters to the trendy crowd with an upscale menu, ranking among the most expensive sushi restaurants in town. It was recently opened by regionally infamous sushi chefs Stefano Parisio and Ignacio Hidemasa Ito and aims to provide an exceptional experience to its guests.
In a group of 7 people we went for an extensive dinner and sampled all premium dishes on the menu. The meal started out with some lights starters, a sake (salmon), suzuki (sea bass) and hamachi (yellowtail) zuke (marinated) sashimi plate and a hata (grouper) tartare. Especially the suzuki and hamachi had excellent taste and texture. They easily surpass the average options at most sushi restaurants around. The hata tartare was amazing and is certainly a rare find, not only regionally but even on an international level.
As a next plate, we opted for a premium sashimi selection that came with tai (sea bream) and o toro (fatty tuna belly). Although the selection seemed a bit disappointing at first, both the tai and the o toro were of good quality. Although the o toro most likely was Yellowfin tuna, it was nice as toro is generally hard to find in Napoli. The subsequent moriawase plate came with maguro (tuna back) sashimi, cooked maguro (tuna back), shiromi (white fish) and kani (crab meat) with ibodai (butterfish) and truffle topping uramakis (inside out rolls) and some more sake (salmon) sashimi. The makis were not particularly interesting and overall we were a bit disappointed with this plate. Especially the strong focus on the maguro resulted in a rather bland experience. This is a common theme in Neapolitan sushi restaurants.
Tabi Signature dishes
We decided to try some of the signature “Tabi” dishes offered and sampled the gunkan (battleship sushi) selection. The red ebi (shrimp) with ikura (salmon roe) and white ebi (shrimp) with green tobiko (flying fish roe) were absolutely amazing. Another large plate of premium pieces came with red ebi (shrimp), cooked maguro (tuna back) uramakis (inside out rolls), sake (salmon) maki tempura (fried roll) with sake (salmon) tartare and quail eggs as well as some o toro (fatty tuna belly) nigiri and hamachi (yellowtail) sashimi.
Considering our previous dishes, all of this felt a bit repetitive, but still most of the items were quite good/ Especially the combinations of sake (salmon) and quail egg as well as red ebi (shrimp) with caviar topping were a nice surprise . After the delightful selection of o toro (fatty tuna belly) nigiri we ordered our last dish, a wagyu beef tartare, for which we had very high expectations. It was nice, but nothing out of the ordinary.
All in all it was huge meal with a great variety of fish and interesting combinations of flavours and accents. The quality and taste was good, even great for some very select items, but was not matching the overall expectations and the reputation that precedes the restaurant.
Sushi Guide Verdict
Tabi is a medium size restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. It’s modern interior design might be appealing to some, but could feel a bit sterile to others. Compared to other posh sushi restaurants in the area, the atmosphere and overall vibe is less interesting and ranks more among average sushi restaurants. The restaurant is located close to major tourist attractions, probably resulting in a different clientele then other fancy alternatives. The menu options are extensive, however, the plate combinations are a bit too similar and lack in interesting surprises. The quality and taste of the fish is good and definitely ranks the restaurant among the better ones around. However, compared to the top alternatives, it still lacks behind considerably. The drink menu is adequate but compared to other premium locations with a high focus on cocktails and highballs, it is rather average. The service team was forthcoming, but there were too many waiters involved in our service and the team felt a bit disconnected from everything. Overall, Tabi is a above average Japanese restaurant and can be recommended with some hesitation, especially in consideration of the prices and the reputation of the chefs. If you are looking for the top location in Napoli however, other alternatives come to mind.
Review date: May 14, 2019