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Friday, Sept. 12, 2008

FOOD

Tapas and Rioja in the east of Tokyo


Given that some of the Rioja are situated in the Basque region of Spain, it's a good idea to team the local wines with its native cuisine. Vasco in Nihonbashi serves up an excellent menu of both Spanish and Basque dishes cooked by Spanish chef Fernando Manito, who bakes delicious bread on site to accompany his exquisite dishes.

From the tapas menu (light bar snacks), we chose a dish of shrimp served in a garlic sauce (¥850), which were served sizzling hot on a metal plate. We also tried the ham and mushrooms in white wine (¥750), which was every bit as succulent as the shrimp.

The impressive wine list is exclusively Spanish and includes two red and one white Rioja, as well as wines from other famous regions of Spain such as Ribera del Duero and La Mancha. El Coto Crianza (¥3,500) is nice and soft on the palate with juicy blackcurrant notes, while the Marques de Gri-on (¥4,000) has strong oak flavors for those who prefer their wines a bit more heavyweight. Apart from the decent house wine (¥450 a glass), none of the wines come by the glass.

Seeing as the key to enjoying Spanish dining is being prepared to share your food and drink, ordering up a bottle to split with your friends shouldn't seem like such a big burden. For those who would like to enjoy a meal to themselves, it's possible to order up a filling plate of paella, but with so many delicious tidbits on offer, it would seem churlish to do so.

Despite being located on the second floor of an office building near Ningyocho Station, Vasco, with its zinc tabletops and high counter, is similar to a typical bar you might find in Spain, down to even the big legs of jamon (Spanish cured ham) sitting on the counter.



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