Yoka Loca is one of the dozen or so restaurants and bars to be found amongst the greengrocers, butchers, delis, and fishmongers in the historical Mercado de Anton Martin.
First to give a little context, Japanese food has become so popular in Madrid that everyone has a favourite “Japo” now – this is mine. Many do a reasonable imitation of Japanese food, but if you want the real thing, this is the best. I once worked for a Japanese company and ate at Japanese restaurants every day. Some were really fancy, but the ones I liked best were just like Yoka Loka: run by women, with a shabby but homey vibe, and featuring delicious and truly authentic Japanese food – no gimmicks.
Yoka is the owner of Yoka Loca, and she’s there, keeping it real. They have super fresh everything (one of the advantages of being located inside a market), including really excellent sushi and sashimi. Even the wasabi is freshly made – watch out because it’s a lot more potent than the ready-made version. The ramen is incredibly good because the house-made dashi is deeply flavourful – you’ll drain the bowl for sure!
Cute details include the seats that open up for you to store your stuff in – such a clever way to maximize a small space (although this restaurant has tripled in size due to its popularity).
For those on a budget, try the very economic lunchtime “menu del día” (fixed price menu) which includes a drink.