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Food, Lifestyle, My Work, Travel

Visit Croatia: Zinfandel’s

January 28, 2019

Zinfandel’s restaurant is one out of the two restaurants which you can enjoy inside of the Esplanade hotel. While LeBistro is more of a laidback “bistro” for a whole day dining, Zinfandel’s is perfect for a romantic night out, foodie experience or the best hotel breakfast you’ve ever had.

Perfect crepes

Let’s start with the breakfast, big variety of cold cuts, dips, spreads, fruit platter, overnight oats, smoothies, numerous cakes, selection of breads… All of those are part of the breakfast buffet table where you can serve yourself and eat as much as you like but if you wish to have something more special like warm porridge, grilled pineapple or poached eggs, you have a a-la-carte menu and the servers will do their best to spoil you with something warm and delicious. ๐Ÿ™‚

Breakfast a-la-carte
Breakfast strukli

I would say that you should definitely try the “star” of their breakfast table and that’s traditional Croatian strukli, a dish like no other, which quickly became my favourite breakfast choice. Dense yet “melt in my mouth” dough, filled with the fresh cheese and topped with the sour cream and eggs, baked to perfection in the oven. It’s a well known fact that Esplanade’s breakfast strukli are the best in Zagreb, if not in whole Croatia.

Zinfandel’s got it’s name after a special sort of grapes originating from the South of Croatia. Main chef, Ms. Ana Grgic has been devoted to crafting her special signature at Zinfandel’s for 13 years. What begun as an apprentice in training, developed into something very fruitful and it ensured that Ms. Ana becomes the main chef of Zinfandel’s and LeBistro.

Ricotta gnudi
Carrot risotto with burrata and black olives paste

If you are looking for a delicious lunch with a 5 star service and a cozy, home like vibes, I suggest you to go to LeBistro. It’s a perfect place to try traditional Croatian dishes but interpreted in a “finer” way with a modern day twist to it. What stood out for me were definitely a carrot risotto and ricotta gnudi.

For a dinner at Zinfandel’s, I’d suggest you to leave about 2-3 hours of free time to enjoy all of the beauty of the interior, complex but delicious bites of food and some of the best wines from an extensive drinks list.

Foie gras with truffles and truffle ice cream

It’s impressive to see how much an interior can change from the breakfast to dinner service. From a bright, “comfy” and bistro like vibes in the morning to the luxurious, dimmed lights and candlelit dinner tables at evening. Zinfandel’s menu is changing very often but some of the dishes marked as “Zinfandel’s classics” never go off of the menu and there is a reason for that. Traditional dishes, which don’t need any adjustments and are visually as well as tastefully perfect just as they were years before and will be in years to come.

Rabbit lasagnette

Part of Zinfandel’s a-la-carte selection which does change has been for years putting it’s chef and the restaurant in the top of the Croatian restaurant scene. Loved by the critics as well as by the visitors and foodie enthusiasts, Zinfandel’s have set the bar very high to all of the other hotel restaurants in Zagreb. So far none of them have even got a close to Zinfandel’s in this “silent competition”.

Reindeer with rhubarb and beetroot

I was happy to share this dinner experience with my brother. We went a little “reckless” and have ordered some dishes which sounded interesting and innovative to us. There was no room for the safe options when trying to test and give a grade to Zinfandel’s food.

Starters were foie gras and truffles with truffle ice cream and cocoa cone and open lasagne with rabbit confit and chickpea foam. I must say I have never yet heard of truffle ice cream and esp. not served with the foie gras so I was excited to see how it’s going to be plated as well as what kind of the taste all together will have. Foie gras with truffles was delicious! I suggest putting it on a cracker bread to enjoy it fully. The ice cream part was bit confusing to me as I just couldn’t put/ mix it with the foie gras or eat on it’s own but that’s just the way my taste buds were, maybe you would go nuts about it so don’t hesitate to try something as innovative as this.

My brother had the open lasagne and before I could even ask him how does he like his dish, it was gone, licked off of the plate. ๐Ÿ˜€ He loved them as they were full of taste, creamyโ€ฆ Tomac Millennium Brut sparkling wine was perfect to match with our starters.

Pork fillets with radishes and mustard seeds

Main courses were reindeer fillets with roasted beetroot and rhubarb and a pork fillet with mustard seeds, pickled radishes and Bernaise sauce. Visually, both dishes were perfect but my brother who tested both of the dishes could conclude that the pork fillet was the “winner” out of these two.

Technically they were both prepped perfectly but the reindeer fillets were overpowering with the taste the rest of the food on the plate. Rhubarb and beetroot might be a good combination together in some vegetarian dish or even a dessert but together with the reindeer maybe something else would be a better choice. Pork fillet had nothing to complain about, everything matched well together and mustard seeds were a cherry on top of the taste explosion. Well done!

For the main course wine we were offered a merlot by Krauthaker from Kutjevo. I must say that the sommelier made us really entertained by the whole service of the red wine from out of the bottle to the glass. Very nice “touch” to the whole dinner experience.

Zinfandel’s dessert list consists of 4 equally great sounding options but we have decided to try their brownie and lemon sponge cakes. Brownie was a chocolate and nut dream, it tasted like a sophisticated version of Snickers bar. ๐Ÿ˜€ Lemon sponge cake was served with marinated pear and cinnamon ice cream – I couldn’t think of a better , Winter perfect dessert.

Lemon sponge cake with cinnamon ice cream
Peanuts choco brownie

I hope that my detailed description of what you can expect from Zinfandel’s and LeBistro as well as the photos of the dishes have made you consider of visiting them both and experiencing a real food heaven oasis in the heart of Zagreb city.

*This post has been made in collaboration with hotel Esplanade, all of the opinions and photos are my own.

*Thank you to Ms. Sanda and Mr. Ivica for making this collaboration possible.

*Thank you to all of the wonderful staff at LeBistro and Zinfandel’s for giving us a remarkable service during our visit.

Lifestyle, My Work, Outfits, Travel

Visit Croatia: Hotel Esplanade

January 22, 2019

Hotel Esplanade, situated in the heart of the Croatian capital city Zagreb in an old but grandiose building which has been an important part of city’s history as well as one of the, up to this day, most important spots for social happenings, fine dining, jazz nights in the bar or perhaps the place with one of the most beautiful rooftop views overlooking the streets of Zagreb.

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Hotel Esplanade counts 5 stars and from the moment you enter the hotel, you are being treated as a 5 star visitor. From the doorman and bellboy, over the concierge to the receptionists you feel warmly welcomed and attended to. While you’re waiting for your check in, just a look around will give you a sense of old, glamorous times, back in the time of Orient Express train for instance. Exactly Orient Express train and this hotel have a big connection as the hotel was visited by many passengers from the famous train. Ever since, 1925 to this date, many important politicians, movie stars, musicians, etc. have stayed at the hotel Esplanade creating it’s story which is already long and interesting, a movie could be made about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

5 star hotel in every way
Sit down and relax ๐Ÿ™‚

Hotel Esplanade’s 208 rooms are all spacious, carefully designed to fit the 5 stars standards while still sticking to the “vintage” vibes. Beautiful marble bathroom, fluffy big pillows or one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in will make you feel at home even if you’re far away from your home.

Hotel lobby

If you wish to get pampered and relax to the max, hotel offers you Spa, gym as well as real Finnish sauna which I had to test first to make sure it’s the real deal and it was. ๐Ÿ˜€ I must say that before moving to Finland 11 years ago, I have never been to sauna and have found it even “scary” but once I got into it, I fell in love with how amazing benefits it had on my overall mood, feeling clean and warm. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hotel Esplanade guests can enjoy full day dining in two restaurants, Zinfandel, offering a fine dining cuisine lead by a famous Croatian chef Ms. Ana Grgic or at it’s “sister” restaurant Le Bistro, more laidback dining with traditional Croatian dishes also designed by the master chef herself, almost becoming the biggest competition to herself since the food at both restaurants looks and tastes wonderful. I must say that hotel’s breakfast which consists of a-la-carte menu as well as the buffet section is the best breakfast I’ve ever had anywhere in the world. Esplanade’s famous strukli dish were simply to die for!

Warm welcome from the hotel
Deluxe suite living room
Deluxe suite bedroom
Marble bathroom
L’Occitane toileteries
Caring for the details to the max

I will write more about my dining experience in the next post but to finish off this one, all I want to add is that after travelling a lot, staying at different hotels and even testing many different hotels in only Zagreb itself, I can say that only hotel Esplanade meets the world class standards of 5 star hotels. First thing I said to my brother upon leaving the hotel was: “They don’t build them like this anymore.”

Feeling like a movie star
Business rooms floor

*This post was made in the collaboration with the hotel Esplanade. All of the photos and opinions are my own.

*Thank you Ms. Sanda and Mr.Ivica for making this collaboration possible as well as for the warm welcome to the hotel.


Food, Lifestyle, My Work

Visit Croatia: La Belle Vie restaurant

August 11, 2018

La Belle Vie restaurant is a newly opened hotspot by the sea in Vodice. La Belle Vie is worth making a stop for in this little city on the South of Croatian coast. La Belle Vie or Good Life in translation is clearly a guideline of the restaurant as their dishes and cocktails plus the incredible location truly make a trio which will guarantee that you will enjoy good moments in life – La Belle Vie way.ย  Continue Reading…

Food, Lifestyle, My Work, Travel

Summer in Croatia

August 29, 2017

Summer in Croatia was a bliss and it feels like I was there last week, when in reality it’s been almost 2 full months since I’ve returned to Helsinki. Can you believe that there are only 3 days left of August and pretty much after that the Summer is over? I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I had to pull out my Fall coat and put a scarf on for the first time in a while… Continue Reading…

Lifestyle, My Work, Travel

Visit Croatia: D-Resort Sibenik

August 7, 2017

If you didn’t know, Croatia has been the hottest Summer vacation destination in Europe for the last couple of years. It’s been the most wanted pick by many this Summer especially. When tourists, wanderers, nomad souls are looking for a place to visit in Croatia where they will get the maximum of beautiful and clean beaches, delicious Mediterranean food and great hospitality, they usually are all having different preferences when it comes to places to stay at. Some will opt for Airbnb, some will like the affordable and no fuss hostels, while others will want to go “all the way out” and enjoy their vacation to the max by choosing to stay at high standard hotels such as D-Resort for instance.ย  Continue Reading…

Lifestyle, Travel

Croatia roundup

June 17, 2016

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If you do follow me on Instagram, you have probably noticed that I’m back to Helsinki. The temperature/ weather difference came to me as a shock, it’s at least 10 degrees less than in Croatia and it’s been raining like crazy for the past two days. If it continues like this, I can kiss my “olive skin” tan away. ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyways, Croatia was amazing, the sun, sea and people made my soul and heart filled with happiness and gratitude. I didn’t knew how much I needed to recharge my batteries until I have arrived there and on the very first day have realised that all I wanted was to sit by the sea, in peace and just “be”.

My dear readers, whenever you can, go and travel, you will always return back home a different person than you were before you left on a trip. Travelling always makes you richer and gives so much closure on some things that are so important as well as make you dismiss those that are of no use/ good for you anymore.

Here’re few photos to roundup the final days of my trip. It’s FRI-YAY and I’m happy for the weekend to be here, some quality time will be spent with my daughter and close friends.

Have a great weekend sweethearts!

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Food, Lifestyle, My Work, Travel

Visit Croatia: Pasta&svasta

June 15, 2016

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Croatian gastronomic scene grew tremendously in the past 2-3 years and many already “established” restaurants such as previously written about Pelegrini, took their service, food philosophy and presentation to a whole new level that meet the worldwide standards of fine dining.

Unfortunately, there’re still way too many tourist traps, restaurants with endless menus which are always very convincing about freshness and quality of their food… That is until you’ll possibly fall for it, order your food and that’s where the romance will stop because you’ll realise that food is not freshly made, fish wasn’t caught “this morning” and most of the owners and restaurant managers couldn’t care less about what people are going to eat, as long as the portions are huge, prices are low and endless pasta, pizza and meat prepped in million ways with the grande finale of pancakes for the dessert are on the menu, tourists and locals will keep on returning.

On the other hand, there are people who are world travelers, people who are true foodies, people who don’t see food just as a fuel and who are taking a visit to restaurant equal to a mini trip to another “world” which will give you an amazing experience that you’ll gladly share withย your certain special someone, family or business partners. Food is more than just a gas for your body, food is the best and most hedonistic way to enjoy your life, socialise… Food is a cultural thing and just like with fashion, I take a very sophisticated approach to it and see the whole picture, from how much love, time and effort it’s needed to just start a restaurant, all the way to how much nerves, smarts and once again appreciation for food and believing in what you’re doing is needed to present you with only ONE plate of perfectly homemade pasta with the best truffles and a glass of white wine specific only for the a certain part of the country or region…

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This was the case with a charming restaurant in the middle of Zadar’s old town known as Poluotok among the locals. Pasta & svastaย is the name you should mark down if you’ll be visiting Croatian coast this Summer since it’s worth taking a small d-tour even if you’re not planning to stay in Zadar.

Pasta & svasta opened it’s doors about two years ago, back in Spring of 2014 by it’s masterminds and true foodies Mr.Ivan and his lovely wife Ivana. Ever since the opening, Mr. Ivan, together in collaboration and agreement with his kitchen staff have been creating a wonderful crossover kitchen of traditional Croatian food/ cuisine presented with a modern twist. Whilst the authenticity of taste is “spot on”, the presentation is far from traditionally known in Italian/ Mediterranean restaurants. No big portions of everything and anything on the plate, but carefully presented, simple but bursting with the taste dishes are about to blow you off if you haven’t or have tried this cuisine before.

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Just when I thought that I can’t be impressed by “yet another” bruschetta, pasta, etc. I was completely proven wrong. Mr. Ivan, who has a phd in costumer service and hospitality is very strong driven restaurant owner, meaning that he has a clear vision of what he wants to offer to his costumers who come from all over the world. One of the most surprising facts is that his restaurant has a Kosher food certification which is to me “unheard” of in this part of the country. He is the only one who has such certificate on Croatian side of Adriatic coast and that def. sets Pasta & svasta highly apart from any other restaurant nearby.

As a starter, we were presented by a home wine, bubbly Krauthaker sauvignon which comes from a certain vineyard in Istria of which Mr. Ivan is being part owner. Warm, crunchy and perfectly salty bruschetta with marinated sardines on the bed of arugula were divine “appetite opener” for everything that was about to follow up.

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For the, so called 1st plate we were served home made, wonderfully al dente tagliatelle with hand de-shelled prawns in tomato sauce with big slices of truffles. I must say that I was having a very high expectations for this dish because I’ve been told by the owners that if I ever try this same dish somewhere else, it must taste the way it did at Pasta & svasta or better if possible but def. nothing less than what I was about to taste. Only one bite was already enough to understand what they meant, it was a perfect marriage between al dente pasta, sourness of tomato sauce and taste of the sea via the most delicious prawns I have ever tried anywhere. To top it all off, the truffles were like eating pure gold, absolutely prime ones, straight from Istria which is famous all over the world as the region for some of the best truffles.

We drank perfectly matched white wine, Galic chardonnay with our 1st plate.

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2nd plate was slow roasted lamb with baked potatoes and pancetta. The meat is slowly roasted for many hours on a low temperature. This is one very traditional dish known to be prepped in Dalmatian households for generations, but the sophisticated and the most delicious version ever has been right this dish at Pasta & svasta. This is very manly dish which is perfect for all of the meat lovers. The meat was so soft that it’s been falling off the bone as you start to “dig into it” and it was beautifully matched with the crispy pancetta and aromatic potatoes. To maximise the ultimate experience of this dish, we drank red wine Skaramuca Plavac mali premium .

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By this point of our dinner, we have already become great buddies with our hosts, Mr. Ivan was happy to see that his food philosophy was understood and appreciated, so we have already made agreements to come and visit him again sometime soon to try couple of more dish-gems that he has hiding up his sleeve. ๐Ÿ™‚

No ending of any dinner is good without something sweet, so we couldn’t resist the calling of deconstructed cheesecake with berry sauce and warm, melty goodness of chocolate suffle! Yum!

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It was one of the best traditional, Mediterranean food experiences I’ve had in a long time. Without any doubt, I’ll be back again to Pasta & svasta. ๐Ÿ™‚

*This collaboration has been made in agreement with Pasta&svasta. All of the opinions are my own.

*Thank you to Mr. Ivan and Mrs. Ivana for the warm welcome and for making this collaboration possible.

*Photography by: Natali K. photography

Lifestyle, My Work, Travel

Visit Croatia: Hotel Life

June 9, 2016

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Situated in a small bay of Zecevo, between cities Primosten and Rogoznica, Hotel Life is an ultimate destination for a private getaway from all of the noises and rush of the city life. While the hotel is perfectly tucked away and has one of the most beautiful sea views I’ve ever witnessed in my life, it is still only a short car or bike ride to either of two mentioned cities in which you can get anything you might need, some souvenirs as well as visit some heritage places such as church of Our Lady Of Mercy, chapel of St. Rocco, metal museum/ shop – crafts and souvenirs made out of different metal parts. Very nearby are famous Babich fields where the best wines come from. You can take a tour of Babich vineyards and learn more about the vinery and how the wine is being made.

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While in Rogoznica, you can discover some more architectural gems, big marina and as well a natural phenomenon, salt lake called “Dragon’s Eye”.

Hotel has it’s private indoor and outdoor pools, but one of the most “raw” and untouched beaches with the clearest sea is right in front of the hotel.

Besides vicinity of many amazing and traditional restaurants in Primosten and Rogoznica, Hotel Life has it’s own restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. For lunch and dinner you can choose whichever dishes you like from their a-la carte menu. Menu is traditional, based on authentic Dalmatian cuisine with a bit of modern twist.

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Hotel Life is a 4 stars, family run business and a lot of care and thought has been put into decoration of the hotel, esp. it’s bedrooms. I loved the fact that all of the rooms were very spacious, modern and had some of my favourite beauty products by Rituals as their toiletries. Rooms are varying from superior room with a sea view to the Presidential apartment of 90m2 which could be a perfect honeymoon suite for instance. ๐Ÿ™‚

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If you wish to have a relaxing and pampering day at the hotel, it’s very much possible by visiting it’s Finnish sauna or Turkish steam bath as well as taking a massage at the Spa.

One thing which I was very impressed with that all of the staff was very welcoming, pleasant, fully skilled and has met all of my wishes and needs. As somebody who has travelled a lot and have stayed in many different hotels, I find it very important to be happy with your accommodation and hotel’s service. When you’re on a holiday, you want to feel relaxed, safe and welcomed and that is how I felt staying at Hotel Life.

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*This post has been made in collaboration with Hotel Life, all of the opinions are my own.

*Thank you to Miss Tatjana for this collaboration!

*Photography by:ย Natali K. photography

 

Lifestyle, My Work, Travel

Visit Croatia: Hotel Life Palace

June 1, 2016

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Did you already hear or read that Croatia is this year’s number 1 Summer destination? Croatia has one of the most beautiful, old and filled with life and heritage cities in the South of Europe. If you’re looking for a perfect “one person” kind of adventure or for a romantic honeymoon destination or maybe a fun holiday spot for a whole family, Croatia should be your 1st choice! I promise, if you do pick Croatia as this Summer’s destination, you won’t be disappointed. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sea is crystal clear, the nature is breathtaking, sun is shining “non stop”, locals are cheerful and very welcoming of tourists, restaurants and hotels are plenty to choose from, beaches are perfect for a whole day fun, there’re endless excursions which are tailored to show you all the best hot spots as well as some hidden gems. Some of the best Summer music festivals are being held in Croatia too such as Ultra and IN music festival, just to name two of them!

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If you wish to visit a small, picturesque and very special city in the middle of Adriatic coast, then look no further, Sibenik will impress you with it’s enchanting narrow, cobble stone streets, wonderful architecture and breathtaking sea views. One of the biggest attractions, cathedral of St. Jacobs which is under protection of UNESCO is def. worth taking a long and thorough look at from the inside as well as on the outside. Besides interesting cathedral, churches, city hall, etc. worth mentioning are fortresses and palaces of Sibenik. One such, Marenci palace is the hero of today’s post. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Marenci palace used to be one of knight’s palaces, dating from 15th century. It’s complete renovation started back in 2014. and once, long forgotten and barely used palace, turned into a gorgeous, fairytale like hotel.

Hotel Life Palace opened it’s doors to public almost a year ago in the very heart of old town of Sibenik. It has 17 beautifully furnished bedrooms which are all decorated in 15th century vibe paying a tribute to Sibenik’s history and original “function” of the space.

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Besides royalty like furnished bedrooms, this boutique hotel has a mini spa with jacuzzi, Finnish sauna and also a lovely cafe with a gorgeous summertime terrace. Cafe serves some of the best cakes you will try anywhere and you can also enjoy a great scoop of Carte D’or ice cream on the terrace.ย If you’re an early bird, make sure to catch a delicious and healthy breakfast too! ๐Ÿ™‚ Starting this month, cafe will be also serving Tapas bites to satisfy some late evening munchie cravings.

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Hotel’s walking vicinity to all of the main city’s attractions, shops and restaurants make it your ultimate choice for a hotel to stay at in Sibenik city!!

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*This post was made in collaboration with Life Hotel Palace. All of the opinions are my own.

*Thank you to Miss Ivana and Tatjana for making this collaboration possible.

*Photography by: Natali Karppinen

Food, My Work, Travel

Visit Croatia: Bota Sare

May 25, 2016

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Who could ever say that Mediterranean cuisine has anything to do with the Japanese one? Who could ever say that these two could be “mixed” and deliver the best of two worlds together in one place? Bota Sare made me believe that this is very much possible.

Oyster and sushi bar Bota Sare comes from a 40 years long family tradition of love for the sea food originating from their hometown Mali Ston. First fusion restaurant like this one was opened in Dubrovnik, followed by the one I’ve visited in Split. Ever since, Bota Sare has been the ultimate choice for many locals and tourists as a “must try” sushi place as well as a place where you get to try the best of traditional meals such as seafood risotto, octopus salad or mixed shells in Buzara sauce.

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Bota Sare is tucked away in a small side street, just a short walk away from the most visited spot in Split – Splitska Riva, one of the most beautiful promenades that a sea side city can have. Thanks to the benefits of Split city being situated at the Adriatic sea coast, fish is caught fresh daily and that is something that you can make sure of – Bota Sare serves only the best of the quality produce and never make compromises. Oysters are also daily caught and shipped from Mali Ston to Split.

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Menu is really interesting and “colourful” so it was a bit though to decide on what to choose from it, but since I’m a huge sushi lover, I had to take different nigiris, rolls and sashimi as starters and main course. Another two options were for more of a meat eaters, spring rolls stuffed with cream cheese and veggies as for the starter and beef teriyaki with rice as the main course.

Sushi rolls were great, especially a dragon roll, but the spotlight def. goes to the super fresh and delicious nigiris and spicy tuna tataki!

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If you want to enjoy the unique crossover of Dalmatian vs. Japanese cuisine, make sure to stop by Bota Sare and let the kind and skilful staff welcome you with the plates full of goodness for all of the true seafood lovers.

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*This post has been made in collaboration with Bota Sare restaurant, all of the opinions are my own.

*Thank you to Miss Antonella Sare for making this collaboration possible!

*Photography by:ย Natali K. photography