Craving Spanish food but don’t know where to go? Look no further than Rigoletto with its wide array of tapas! Tapas are little dishes that are snack or appetizer-sized, and encourage communal eating. Usually a variety of tapas is ordered and shared amongst the party, and people mix and match to make a meal of it. Some people may not be used to this style of eating as the meal is not served for just one person specifically.
But one good point is that it is a very effective conversation starter that everyone on the table can relate to (not that the Spanish need any help in being fervently friendly in their famed flamenco flair). Tapas may also be served like hors d’oeuvres during cocktail hour or at a reception.
Rigoletto has 10 restaurants that each have a different specialty for tapas with a modern twist. For example, the one at Tokyo Skytree Town is Rotisserie and Wine, the one at Roppongi is Bar and Grill, the one at Yokohama is Ocean Club, and the one at Naka-Meguro does it Moroccan style.
We visited the Spice Market at Futakotamagawa, and was greeted with a decor that would make any sheik or maharaja proud. It was a convoluted farrago of Middle East luxury and velvety glitz from the Moulin Rouge. Fleeting images of spice merchants, camels and also belly dancers in the desert whirled in my mind. According to the website, their spices are imported from the spice enclaves of Morocco and South India directly.
There was a myriad of hot and cold tapas, pizza, pasta and grill dishes. The usual suspects of gazpacho (cold tomato based soup), ajillo (dishes cooked in oil and garlic), ceviche (raw fish cooked only by the acidity of lemons or limes), and Iberico chorizo were on the menu. And of course, sangria was available by the pitcher.
We got the jalapeño fritters, garlic toast, zucchini and baby sardine ajillo, and the arroz caldoso of sea bream which is a brothy rice reminiscent of a soupy risotto. We were pleasantly surprised by a yummy Caesar salad that came before our order did; I’m not sure if it was an otoshi お通し or not (some Japanese establishments have this seating charge of sorts, of serving an appetizer that any seated patron may not refuse but is charged for) but the waitress obligingly shaved a ton of Parmesan on it.
There were some interesting tapas like callos (ox tripe stew) and zeppoline dough fritters that looked interesting. Other spice infused dishes included the spice lamb pizza and tandoori chicken. By this time the lush green forest on the wall had duly captured my attention. What is that, an oasis in the middle of nowhere that looks like the Amazonian rainforest? We also had fun watching the chefs sweat it out in the open kitchen. The Dutch oven which the skillets and pizzas went into looked impressive.
The jalapeño poppers were cream cheese and herb stuffed, and sat in chili and tomato sauce. The garlic baguette was hard, crusty and made a beautiful sound when pulled apart, just like how bread should be but isn’t in Japan. The baby sardines in the ajillo looked like anchovies to me, but potayto-potahto. It was garlicky, salty and oily and embodied the aroma of olives. The arroz soup with sea bream took the cake. It was brimming with mussels, clams and sea bream in a broth that could’ve been made by Captain Cook himself.
Spaniards have dinner at about 9pm to midnight, and hence have a dragged out tapas hour from when they end work till then.
We were doing the same, just at 5pm. By the time we were done, the crowd was starting to fill in and the spice market was coming to life. We squared our shoulders, hopped on the city’s metal steed, and rode off into the sunset.