by Deborah Im
Cataluna, in the northeast region of Spain, is home to some of the most delicious cuisines in the world. Tokyoites can have an authentic Catalan experience at Bikini Tapa in Shibuya, a lively restaurant on the fourth floor of Mark City.
Sitting on a counter near the bar is a large smoked leg of pig—hoof and all—exactly as found in restaurants all over Barcelona. Paper-thin slices of savory, smoky jamón ibérico are shaved off the leg; perfect when washed down with a glass of tinto (red wine). Bikini offers several wonderful wines and cava by the glass from various regions of Spain, as well as a well-priced selection of wines by the bottle.
In Barcelona, the usual practice is to go bar-hopping to sample a variety of tapas, which are usually snack-sized finger foods served at bars, then settle down for a proper meal that might include a paella or fideua (paella made with thin vermicelli noodles instead of rice). At Bikini, diners can have it all in one place by ordering one of the course menus, which start at ¥3,900 per person and include pintxos (Basque-style tapas served on slices of crusty bread), tapas, soup, a meat or fish dish, a rice dish, dessert and coffee.
On a recent visit we were thoroughly impressed with the delicious executions of Catalan and other Spanish cuisine. We started with an assortment of pintxos, which included various versions of mayonnaise-marinated seafood on slices of toasted bread. A dish of grilled pimiento de padrón (shishito peppers) sprinkled with sea salt was subtle yet delicious. The boquerones, pickled anchovies in olive oil, were perfectly marinated, neither too salty nor too vinegary. Grilled vegetables included asparagus, potatoes, carrots, tiny radishes and baby corn, served with a spicy green vinaigrette dipping sauce.
A plate of sizzling gambas al ajillo (shrimp cooked with garlic in olive oil), a classic Spanish tapa, was next. The shrimp meat was succulent and well marinated. At the suggestion of our waiter, we chose a seafood paella for our final savory course. The rice was nicely flavored with saffron and generously dotted throughout with clams, mussels and shrimp.
Dessert choices include classic crema catalana, Spain’s answer to crème brulee, as well as some creative dishes such as naranja y yogur, a refreshing concoction of orange granita with creamy yogurt, slightly reminiscent of an Orange Julius or a Creamsicle.
4F Mark City Restaurant Avenue,
1-12-5 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku
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