Japanese-Spanish fusion restaurant Kamei Baru opening in old ensembleTap location

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      A new restaurant will soon occupy the space left empty by ensembleTap, which closed in August 2012. Kamei Baru (990 Smithe Street), a Japanese-Spanish fusion restaurant, is scheduled to open March 1.

      The restaurant is owned by the Kamei Group, which oversees long-running traditional Japanese restaurant Kamei Royale and fusion chain Ebisu, which has two locations in Vancouver and one in Richmond. While Ebisu focuses on creative fusion dishes such as miso-flavoured chicken wings and tempura-battered sweet potato fries, Kamei Baru will be the restaurant owner’s first venture into Japanese-Spanish fusion.

      “I’ve been to Spain and Japan but I’ve never seen anything like that,” Hiroaki Masuda, general manager of Kamei Royale and the Kamei Group owner’s son, told the Straight in a recent phone interview. “These days, not many Japanese restaurants are doing something like this. It’s all izakaya-style bars, but there’s so many items in Spanish cuisine that are close to the bar side [of Japanese cuisine].”

      While Kamei Baru is still in the planning stages of its menu, Masuda, who is working with two chefs from Japan and one from the U.S., said that a Japanese version of paella—a Valencian rice and shellfish dish—is the type of item customers can expect to see on the menu.

      “It’s quite random, but if it works, we just try,” Masuda said.