The Sherry Club in Ginza has an ochre coziness that envelops you the minute you sit down. It is quite possibly the best place in Tokyo to familiarize yourself with the many styles and flavors of this somewhat archaic tipple which originated centuries ago, crafted to ship well and store even better.
A sharpened pencil and a list of sherries graces every place setting. Since this may be overwhelming for those not familiar with sherry, they have kindly provided several Y2300 tasting sets, which include three small glasses of sherry ranging from dry to sweet or pale to dark, along with a small platter of serrano ham, manchego cheese, pickles and olives and a caperberry.
Equally striking is the extensive variety of Spanish food, highlighted by several types of jamon (traditionally cured ham, similar to prosciutto). The well-aged chorizo is a spiced hard sausage with an exquisitely nutty and smoky flavor, with the chili gently kicking in as you chew it. The salchicha is a pungent salami, with a dry texture and rich, fermented flavor. My favorite was the lomo - a heavenly, cured pork loin with a touch of white mold on the outer surface that gives it a hint of blue cheese character.
Apart from these, there is a full menu of warm tapas. Recommended are the chorizo and garbanzo beans in tomato sauce (Y700), and the gazpacho (Y500). Also available are salads, pizza, and an array of rice dishes including a rich and very satisfying Valencia-style seafood paella (Y1800) that's enough for two.
One surprise was the selection of five brands of Spanish beer, all Y800. The astonishing variety of food and drink at Sherry Club makes it difficult to get an overview in one or two visits. But since Sherry Club has been open since 1986, there's every reason to believe it will be around for years to come.
by Bryan Harrell