Food & Drink | TOKYO FOOD FILE

Eneko Bar: At long last, a place in Tokyo to savor classic Basque pintxos

by Robbie Swinnerton

Finally, Tokyo has a pintxos bar worthy of the name. And what a name: Creative culinary genius Eneko Atxa holds three Michelin stars for his restaurant Azurmendi in the heart of the Basque Country. Now he also has a Tokyo outpost for his contemporary, inventive cuisine.

What makes his Nishi-Azabu operation unique is that for the first time anywhere, he has a bar serving the classic one-bite specialties that have long defined the Basque way of eating and drinking.

Think of pintxos as tapas that are so potent and imbued with national identity they have to be held down with toothpicks. Eneko Bar offers most of the favorites, from gildas (skewers of pepper, olive and anchovy) to deep-fried white fish and delectable ham croquettes. Most are skewered on baguette bread; all are first-rate.

Of course you will find jamon (ham from umami-rich Iberico pork) and tortilla (Spanish omelette) as the perfect foil for your opening drink. But you will also find more unusual nibbles, such as batter-fried soft-cooked eggs and other exotica from the main restaurant.

Besides cava and vino, there are good cocktails and some txakoli, the indigenous Basque white wine. As yet there’s no vermouth, but we live in hope.

A word of warning: The Eneko Tokyo complex also serves as a wedding hall and Eneko Bar does not operate on days when knots are being tied there.

Irregular closing dates (during wedding receptions); pintxos from ¥350, drinks from ¥600; English spoken