Basque restaurants in Japan
You might have heard about Basque food or the Basque Country. Basque cheesecake is one of the latest fads in Japan and you can find it everywhere, including convenience stores like Lawson (one of my favorites and pretty cheap!)
Well, since I’m Basque and have had more chances than ever to eat my childhood food since I left my hometown 16 years ago, I decided to comment on the Basque restaurants I like the most (and least) in Japan.
It’s not always easy to find authentic Basque food. You may have noticed that European restaurants of any kind tend to mix their dishes in Japan. Pizza is not Spanish and “ajillo” is not Italian! But there are a few good restaurants that are either authentic enough, or serve food good enough that I don’t mind.
Here’s the list, starting with the ones that I found more… well, Basque:
While some other Basque restaurants put more of a focus on nouvelle cuisine and cost a pretty penny, Bihotza mostly aims to give you traditional Basque dishes for more affordable prices, and that’s what I like about it. I loved the food in some of the other restaurants for special occasions, but I go back to Bihotza for some old-fashioned Basque dishes, particularly seafood. I love their squids with squid ink, one of my favorite dishes as a child. Authentic and relatively inexpensive, I highly recommend it.
Lauburu (Omotesando, Tokyo)
Similar to Bihotza, this restaurant is not about going upmarket, but about serving traditional dishes. The restaurant takes inspiration from the French side of the Basque Country, though Basque cuisine is not that different on either side. This restaurant offers more meat (particularly pork) and less seafood dishes than Bihotza. I really enjoyed the boar and piperrada, a red pepper and vegetable dish. Go to Bihotza for the seafood, come here for the meat.
Lauburu ⇒ http://lauburu.jp/
More rustic looking than other establishments on this list, this is your best option outside of Tokyo and its surrounding areas. I went there for Christmas and the atmosphere, with the snow outside and the traditional furniture inside, was unmatched. The course they had on offer was great as well, with authentic charcuterie and pintxos (small rations popular in the Basque Country). Not easy to get to for someone living in Tokyo like myself, but I’d love to go back one day.
Vascu ⇒ https://www.vascu.com/laconcha/
Eneko (Roppongi, Tokyo)
Remember when I mentioned in the previous article that some Basque restaurants were going for nouvelle cuisine more than traditional dishes? Well, this is one of them. Named after the restaurant’s three-Michelin-star-winning owner, Eneko offers a great course menu. You can safely go for the cheapest course, as it will satisfy most people. The starters and dessert are very unique, with more traditional main dishes, though not necessarily traditionally Basque. They also have a pintxo bar by the restaurant, where you can try smaller portions without breaking the bank. I haven’t been there yet, but it’s definitely on my to-do list.
eneko ⇒ https://eneko.tokyo/
Zurriola (Ginza, Tokyo)
Similarly to Eneko, this Michelin-star restaurant offers delicate dishes with great presentation. The chef is not Basque but did study in the Basque Country. With the highest taberogu score of all of the restaurants I have talked about, this is a safe bet for anyone looking to celebrate a special occasion, and the food is obviously great. It’s also obviously more expensive than the other options, so be ready for that.
Zurriola ⇒ http://zurriola.jp/
Pais Vasco (Ginza, Tokyo)
While this Ginza restaurant has pretty good reputation, I can’t say that it’s my favorite. Not as fancy as Eneko or Zurriola and not as authentic as Bihotza or Lauburu, Pais Vasco sits a bit awkwardly in between. There’s nothing particularly wrong about it and I did enjoy the food, and non-Basque people probably would probably never know any better. I would eat here only after having tried some of the other options, though.
Pais Vasco ⇒ http://www.paisvasco.jp/
Txiki-Plaka (Shinbashi, Tokyo)
A small restaurant in Shinbashi, Txiki Plaka offers a course menu that satisfies but that I did not find particularly Basque either, outside of a couple of exceptions. The course consists of dishes that you may find in other European restaurants. They do serve Spanish omelette, which I like, but… is not Basque.
Txiki Plaka ⇒ https://txikiplaka.owst.jp/
There are more Basque restaurants I haven’t talked about. Some of them, like Abasque, I went too long ago to comment on now. Most of them, I haven’t been to yet: Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Txoko, Lanbroa… they’re definitely in my to-do list. And, if you know of any other ones, please do let me know!
Hi, I’m Sergio.
I’m from Spain, lived in the UK for seven years and came to Japan in 2012.
I majored in journalism in London and have been teaching English in Tokyo.
I like traveling, cycling, photography, movies, and spending time with friends.
I wrote articles about life in Japan as a foreigner and anything that I might find interesting.
My email is ” firstname.lastname@example.org “, by all means contact me about anything!
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