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The narrow alleys surrounding Karasumori Shrine in Tokyo’s Shinbashi neighborhood are crammed with tiny bars filled with salarymen making merry on a Friday night. In this milieu of wooden doors and shadowy interiors, the cobalt blue-framed glass storefront of recently opened Txiki Plaka draws the eye like a moth to a porch light. However, the bar stands out for more than its cheerful decor: Txiki Plaka specializes in pintxos, the unique version of tapas found in the Basque region of northern Spain.

Tapas became all the rage in the early 2000s, when the Japanese government approved the import of cured Spanish hams. While the city has no shortage of Iberian eateries, Basque cuisine is relatively new to the scene. But with the opening of Txiki Plaka (which means “small plates” in Basque) — followed by Eneko Bar, three-Michelin-starred Basque chef Eneko Atxa’s casual outpost in Nishi-Azabu — Tokyo may be ripe for a pintxos revolution.

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