Thursday, December 3, 2009

Puerta, Monzennakacho

Frequently, I rhapsodize about the joys of Monzennakacho. I don't get a kickback from the town council, I assure you. Quite the opposite in you know how local taxes work in Japan?!

For a place that has so many low-end Japanese establishments, Monnaka has a surprising number of European options too. One thing that there was only a single example of before was Spanish food, but that's been rectified with the recent opening of Puerta, on the small north-south street next to Daily Yamazaki (station exit 2) that connects the main entertainment streets. I doubt that Iberico Bar is quaking in their bootellas, but this is a worthwhile addition to the Monnaka dining scene.

They took over a homey sort of Japanese place and didn't do too much redecorating, I think. Certainly one thing they've done is splash a bit of Spanish on the walls, put Cuban music on the speakers, and hang up lots of copper pots of an interesting double-clamshell variety, in which they cook their signature seafood dish. The menu is surprisingly big, ranging from raw fish to salads to taps, things boiled in garlic oil, and a few larger cooked meats. That seafood stew features prominently. The wine list keeps itself mainly around the Y3000 mark, which is always welcome in my world.

We actually got through a bunch of things for a weeknight - shrimp and mushrooms ajillo, brandade (never mind the French...actually I asked the waiter if they had any tinto by the glass - every other Spanish bar I've been to in Japan delights in called the red wine tinto - and he said "Sure! What's tinto?"), fried dough balls with salt cod (outstanding - extremely light and fluffy. Light on the cod too, but the cooking was first-rate), quesadilla (more like two small burritos actually, with some Thousand Island dressing inside!), nado nado. More hits than misses, so an above-average Spain Bar experience.

As with all Spain bars, the prices strike me as a little aggressive (though I admit it probably comes out cheaper than a French or Italian equivalent; it's just that it feels so much more casual to me). Do print out the gurunavi coupon and go on a weeknight, lest they slap you with a cheeky 10% service charge. Seems like an unnecessarily bullish way to start your business in late 2009, but maybe they know something about the economy that I don't.

Merci beaucoup.

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