Although Liberdade has an increasing number of Chinese and Korean eateries, the stand-outs remain the neighborhood’s traditional Japanese restaurants.
Bakery Ikikiri (Rua dos Estudantes 24, Liberdade, tel. 11/3277-4939, 8 a.m.–7 p.m. daily) is a Chinese bakery that offers fragrant steamed buns and other Asian goodies as well as Japanese bubble tea.
Gombe (Rua Tomás Gonzaga 22, Liberdade, tel. 11/3209-8499, 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m. and 6:30–11:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat., R$15–30) is an old-time favorite that specializes in robata—a traditional cooking style of northern Japan in which the daily catch is grilled over small fires. The most coveted seats in this restaurant are those surrounding the grill where you can watch the chefs sear skewers of squid and fish. The menu also boasts a large variety of Japanese noodles.
Another favorite address is Sendai (Rua da Glória 148, Liberdade, tel. 11/3241-1129, 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 6:30–10:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., noon–3 p.m. and 6–10:30 p.m. Sat., R$25–35). The long, narrow, unadorned dining area is divided into low tables on one side and a sushi bar on the other. Aside from sushi and sashimi, there are plenty of grilled specialties as well as sugaki, a refreshing oyster salad with cucumber.
Sushi-Yassu (Rua Tomas Gonzaga 98, Liberdade, tel. 11/3209-6622, R$35–45) is one of the most traditional Japanese restaurants in Liberdade. The extensive menu boasts over 100 offerings—most of which focus on classic recipes such as stir-fried Japanese spinach with smoked fish shavings and cold wheat noodles with lightly battered shrimp. For privacy, there are seven screened-off rooms with tatami mats.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition