Last Friday night, we voyaged to a serene, tucked-away beach community somewhere
along the French Rivera. Or so it seemed. Heading north toward Byblos, we pulled off the highway
just before the main exit and looped beneath to the seaside to find ourselves
outside a grand gated community called Byblos Sud.
A golf cart whisked us past blocks and blocks of dim facades evocative of a sleeping beach
resort. Images of the beautiful Costa Navarino in Messinia, Greece, flashed
through my mind as the cart stopped abruptly at a set of stairs. We ambled out and
started to descend the cliff one step at a time. I couldn’t help but stop and stare at
the view of a beautiful, black sea below. If only we’d arrived in time for
sunset, I thought regretfully.
|The view as you descend from cliff to sea|
At the foot of the stairs, we were ushered in to the brand new Japanese dining outlet Kami in Blue. A microcosm
of the original, decade-strong establishment Kami steeped in Byblos, this
beachfront property wastes no time in whetting your appetite. Water laps at the
sandy shore just beneath your feet while a sea breeze ruffles your mane.
Earnest waiters are at your beck and call, guiding you through an extensive
menu of raw and cooked Japanese delights. In the corner, a brightly-lit,
all-glass enclosure serves as a hygienic cooking environment for the chefs,
whom you can readily approach and admire as they prepare your selection.
Could you desire anything more?
|Where the raw seafood dishes are prepared|
|Feel free to mosey up to the glass window and watch the chefs work their magic|
Eliane, with four years of experience waitressing at Kami,
suggested the cocktail of the day: fresh pressed watermelon muddled with vodka
and mint leaves. "Two, please." We then proceeded to check off alluring items from
a paper menu.
In due time, a parade of food marched through our table. Not fond of raw fish, I clung to the cooked edibles and hardly felt as though I
were missing out. I mean, how could I, when Kami in Blue’s dynamite shrimp are quite easily and unequivocally the best I’ve ever had, in Lebanon and abroad? A
delicate shell slathered with a creamy, piquant dressing gives way to piping hot shrimp bursting with freshness and robustness. We downed that martini
glass tower in a few minutes flat.
In the way of a salad, I opted for the seaweed number while
my husband tackled a white fish ceviche. We were both left smitten by the impeccable
interplay of ingredients, underscored by a pinch of sweetness to pull together
elements of the savory. Again, these dishes quickly rose to the ranks of best
we’d ever had in their respective classes.
|White fish ceviche|
Homing in on my main dish required little effort. I saw the
word soba and swooned. If you’ve never tried the buckwheat flour noodle, you'll learn it complements nearly anything you toss it with, particularly stir-fried veggies and seafood. Kami in Blue’s soba spectacle
is chockfull of shrimp, squid, and scallops – my favorite. It looks like a
dish you can pull off at home, but don't be fooled. This stuff demands skill and
vision. And I’m happy to cede the kitchen to Kami's culinary gurus.
|Spicy seafood soba noodles|
My husband ordered a medley of sushi and sashimi tacos,
but having partaken liberally in my cooked affairs, he had little space to
consume his! There’s a bigger moral here that I’m about to impart – and it’s
not "leave your partner at home."
|A selection of sushi|
|Salmon sashimi tacos|
Kami in Blue’s portions are generous. The ingredients are
tellingly fresh. The food is absolutely sublime. My advice? Focus exclusively
on either cooked or raw during a given dining visit. Don't blend the two, or
you might risk drowning out the subtle nuances of each dish.
And inch your way deliberately through the meal as you
inhale your tranquil surroundings. There’s nothing like it in all of Lebanon,
so soak it up slowly. The waiters won’t rush you. The operations manager Georges
might assume you’re not totally pleased with your dining experience because you’re
indulging with seeming restraint.
Just tell him Beirutista prescribed it. That’s how they do it in the French Rivera, anyhow, which is practically where you’ve washed up.
|Sheer serenity will envelop you at Kami in Blue|
Open daily from 7:30 PM to 12:30 AM.
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