El Pulpo, Kagurazaka

I think I might have found my first decent and yummy Spanish restaurant in Tokyo, El Pulpo in Kagurazaka. They specialize in Spanish seafood. The mussels were huge(!), fresh and moist, the pate was absolutely delicious, the olives were decent quality (compared to what you usually find in Tokyo), and even the shrimps were moist and not overcooked.

I have been trying to find decent Spanish restaurants in Tokyo for quite some time, but a lot of places have totally let me down and made me almost irritated that I left money in their establishments. I have been using tabelog and reviews on several social networking sites in Japan, but I guess that Japanese people’s idea of good Spanish food is overpriced, overcooked and and overcomplicated, and incredibly small portions compared to the stiff prices. I just can not believe how decent ratings several Spanish restaurants have gotten despite the sub-par food. This goes against other types of cuisines I have tried in the Tokyo area, I have found decent, tasty and correctly priced French, Italian and even Mexican restaurants. I don’t know if I have just been really unlucky with the Spanish restaurants I have tried, or if there is some kind of Japanese curse that seems to target Spanish restaurants specifically. Every single place have been consistently bad. Except for this one. Finally something decent! I will definitely be back to El Pulpo very very soon.

(I should mention – It can not be compared to some of the Spanish food I have had around Europe, but my expectations for Spanish food in Japan have dropped so much that finding anything decent is a mere bonus for me at this point.)


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  1. Sandra says:

    Lovely pictures! I kinda did not understand the last one, though. Lol. Hope you find some good spanish restaurants in the future, and have a lovely summer :-)

    Sandra/reisedagboka.net

    • Sushi Bird says:

      Ahahaha, they had little octopus trinkets hanging around the restaurant (because the name of the restaurant is El Pulpo, I guess?), including the lovely sparkling octopus lady in the last picture.

  2. Era says:

    I’m not too fond of seafood. That’ll be interesting, if I end up going to Japan. I’m not afraid of trying new things though, and was raised to politely eat whatever I’m served – and then say thank you! ^^

    I think I’ve probably tried a hundred different seafood dishes, from the terribly boring Norwegian processed fish dishes (fiskeboller og fiskegrateng, bane of my childhood) to the at least interesting Japanese sushi rolls.

    I’m 80% confident I’d be able to adapt to a diet that includes fish on a regular basis.

    • Sushi Bird says:

      I think you can live quite ok in Japan without much seafood, there is tons of meat and vegetable dishes here for you, so I wouldn’t worry about that. You can live happily off gyudon and yakitori ;)

  3. Wow, thank you for sharing this place! It looks delicious :) hope I can visit next time I’m in Kagurazaka!

    • Sushi Bird says:

      It is worth the visit imho! (& nice blog you have btw! I love seeing how other people capture Tokyo. 14 million people with 14 million different stories. Magic!)

  4. Name says:

    This post is so spot on about unfulfilled expectations for Spanish food in tokyo. I feel the same about Mexican. Ebisu is finally pulling it together with some above standard Mexican however.

    • Sushi Bird says:

      I have actually found a couple of decent Mexican places. For modern Mexican, check out Hacienda del Cielo in Daikanyama. I think you need a reservation about half the time, but decent prices and good fresh food. It feels very un-Tokyo-like, but I still really like it. Where is the decent place in Ebisu?

  5. […] bit more “old style” Spanish than the previous restaurant we went to in Kagurazaka, El Pulpo. However – the quality was good, and one of the most beautiful things about Tokyo is that you […]