La Cuchara: Kagurazaka
!La Cuchara
Kagurazaka / Spanish
Shinjuku-ku, Kagurazaka 4-3, Omiya Bldg 2F.
Open 5:30pm-1:30am (LO). Closed Mondays.
late: Open late
Sun: Open Sundays

Convivial bonhomie beams from the second-story window of this lively tapas bar in Kagurazaka. Inside, ceramic plates painted in sunny Andalucian colors hang above the brick-lined counter. Bottles of wine, conveniently marked with prices and descriptions, line the tall wooden shelves at the far end of the room. Floor-to-ceiling windows make the space seem bigger than it is -the bar seats a scant twenty four -and create an atmosphere that feels both intimate and open.

The crowd, staff included, is young and hip in an unpretentious way. Expect a short wait when you arrive; the place fills up after 7pm, but tables turn quickly. Most people pop in for drinks and a few snacks, but the menu also features a few larger plates if you wish to have a full meal.

The kitchen succeeds in dishing up tasty standards like prawns in sizzling hot garlic oil (Y880), satisfyingly chunky potato croquettes stuffed with Jamon Serrano (Y680), and a delicate platter of sweet organic vegetables served with a light bagna caulda dipping sauce (Y780). A couple of unusual items from the blackboard specials menu, such as bite-sized skewers of bonito and salty dried fish roe (Y380), offered a pleasant surprise. Lamb chops from the iron griddle (Y1600), however, failed to impress.

A nice variety of wines are available by the glass (six whites, six reds, and two cavas), with even more choices by the bottle. As is fitting for a Spanish bar, Iberian selections dominate the wine list, but France, Italy, and the New World are also represented. If you plan on having more than one or two glasses, ordering by the bottle is probably your best bet - the service, though friendly and well intentioned, can be painfully slow. Budget around Y5000 per person.

by Melinda Joe
Browse more