I would really like to know what Božo Šare, the owner of Bota Šare, would have answered me fifteen years ago if I had suggested that he should start preparing sushi. He would have probably told me I was crazy and that I should pay more attention to the fish and the shrimps from Neretva, which his wife Tanja had just brought to the table we were sitting at. Alternatively, he would have looked at me slyly and, in order not to offend me, told me that it would be something worth considering. Be that as it may, neither did the thought occur to me, nor could I imagine the future development of his culinary brand while I was dining in his restaurant in Mali Ston. The only thing I was sure of was that Božo and Tanja should not worry about their future. They have six children, all of whom have been helping out in the restaurant since they were little kids, so surely some of them will continue what their parents started. And they started a lot of different things, since these were the years when they started to expand, and they opened, in addition to Bota Šare in Mali Ston, restaurants in Split, at Bačvice, and in Zagreb, the first one in Nova Ves, which was later moved to Zvonimirova Street. All of them preserved the distinct culinary traditions of the Šare family, known for the best oysters in the world, highest quality fish and crabs, Ston risottos, excellent meat, and home-grown vegetables, prepared using the local way of cooking, typical for Mali Ston.
And then, all of a sudden, around five years ago I received the news that Šare was opening the Oyster and Sushi Bar in Dubrovnik. I knew that Božo did not lack entrepreneurial spirit, but I somehow assumed that somebody else was behind this project. I soon found out that the protagonists of this story were members of the new generation of Šare family, now all grown up. Since at that time they owned three different restaurants in three different places, their eldest son Pero, joined by Zrinka, Antonela and Tomislav, slowly took over the management of some of them, and with young people came fresh ideas. The leader of the group was Pero, who travelled to many parts of the world, which made him start thinking about an idea which might have seemed heretic at first – sushi. He tried the original Japanese, Californian and European versions, and with more and more tasting and thinking, came to the conclusion that he should make this great dish Dalmatian and associate it with the best ingredients the Adriatic had to offer, which were already at hand. The oysters from Mali Ston (Ostrea edulis) belong to a species that managed to survive in only three locations in the world – in small quantities in France, in Istria and in the bay of Mali Ston. Due to the mixing of fresh and salt water, the Neretva River’s confluence with the sea, the Trebišnjica’s spring in Bistrina, and the strong currents, there are around a hundred different species of plankton in the bay, much more than is usual in the Adriatic, which gives the oysters a unique and enchanting taste. There is also the fish from this part of the Adriatic – tuna fish that Pero catches himself, common dentex, greater amberjack, grey mullet – which again has a special taste due to more minerals and plankton in the sea, and a higher salinity level. He also has access to the salt from Mali Ston and the vegetables from his own back yard. Realizing that the ingredients that he had at hand were actually of a higher quality than the ones the Japanese had, Pero concluded that using the Japanese way of preparing raw seafood delicacies would be a great idea.