The highlight of the year-end trip to Argentina that my wife Jun and I went on was not surprisingly the southernmost town of Ushuaia in Patagonia. While this place is often thought of as just a gateway to a cruise trip to Antarctica, it actually offers so much more, from the cozy atmosphere of the town itself to surrounding natural beauty in Emerald Lagoon and the Tierra Del Fuego National Park. You can even go on a tour where you get to walk along with the penguins in the nearby Martillo Island (look up Piratour which seems to have the exclusive access to this program)! Of course, we also wanted to eat well during our time in Patagonia, and Ushuaia happened to be well-known for fresh seafood like king crab (called “centolla” here) and Patagonian lamb. The highlight of our meal in Ushuaia was no doubt at Kaupé on our second day, one of the leading restaurants in the town’s dining scene.
Because we arrived in Ushuaia on Christmas Day when most of the restaurants were closed, Jun was sad that we didn’t get to try the king crab right away. To compensate, we doubled down on king crab at Kaupé, starting with “natural” version as an appetizer (no condiment other than sauce on the side) and “Centellon Kaupé” with tomato sauce as a main dish. Both dishes were outstanding, especially the latter one that Jun said she will remember for a long time. The freshness of the king crab was delightful, and the use of tomato sauce for the main dish was quite spot-on, adding aromatic flavor that worked beautifully with the crab meat. It also helped that we could get both dishes at less than $40 combined thanks to the dollar-friendly exchange rate at the time of our visit. Other dishes were also quite delicious. The small Antarctic scallop ceviche is also something you want to eat for your appetizer, and the Patagonian sea bass (called “merluza negra” here) with sage and lemon was another stand-out dish, offering wonderfully plump texture of the fish. For dessert, Jun thoroughly enjoyed the creamy bar of chocolate on a “dulce de leche” sauce that was pure decadence (Jun was very close to licking the entire sauce until it was gone).
Getting a reservation at Kaupé wasn’t too difficult and the restaurant responds pretty regularly to emails for reservation inquiries. The restaurant is probably the closest thing to fine dining you can have in Ushuaia, with an upscale but inviting dining space overlooking the shore and with smartly dressed staffs all very fluent in English (this was probably the place in Argentina where Jun and I had the least trouble with language difference). There is also extensive selection of Argentinian wines, particularly the limited edition Antalogia series from the famed Bogeda Rutini. I highly recommend Kaupé if you are looking for an excellent dining experience in Ushuaia where you get to taste some fresh seafood while relaxing after a day full of outdoor activities.
KenScale: 8.5/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.5/10)
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 9.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 8.5/10
Address: Roca 470 (9410), Ushuaia, Argentina