Authentic Spanish food is not easy to get as a cheapo in Tokyo. While Spanish restaurants aren’t nearly as ubiquitous as their French and Italian cousins, they seem to cash in on their rarity by charging plenty for pretty mediocre fare (black squid ink paella anyone?). Lizarran however, is a chain of pinchos restaurants straight out of Spain.
So what’s a pincho? Essentially it’s the same as a tapa except it’s on a wooden skewer. The pinchos typically consist of a slice of hard crusted bread (I daren’t call it a baguette!) skewered together with various toppings. Toppings include smoked salmon, squid, jamón serrano, various cheeses, pâtés and Spanish omelette. Each is two or three big mouthfuls so depending on your appetite, you could make a meal of 3 to 5 of these.
To anyone who has ever been to a kaitenzushi (conveyor belt sushi) restaurant, the system will be quite familiar. Rather than running a bill or paying as you go, you just grab what you want. When it’s time to leave, the staff count up the skewers to work out how much you owe. Just like the different coloured plates which cost different amounts at the kaitenzushi joint, the pinchos have different length skewers. Small skewers are 220yen while long ones are 280yen. At lunch time, all the pinchos are 200yen irrespective of skewer length.
The taste was excellent. Unlike a lot of chains, there is no shortchanging on the ingredients. Each pincho is piled high with a mix of good quality local vegetables and imported cheeses, pickles, ham and fish. They also have some quirky little customs – like ringing a loud bell in the restaurant when hot pinchos are available.
Aside from pinchos, Lizarran has a reasonably priced drinks menu, with soft drinks and espresso coffee from 200yen, beers from Japanese craft brewery August Beer from 400yen a glass and red or white wine by the glass for 500yen.
In our pilot episode, we're joined by Alvin Cheung of ABC Coffee, Hapnick, and Tokyo Keyboards