Cozy riverside Spanish restaurant30 January, 2011 by Chad
El Chateo del Puente (エル・チャテオ・デル・プエンテ) is a quaint Spanish restaurant located under the JR train tracks beside Mansei-bashi (bridge). It’s near the junction between Ochanomizu and Akihabara. When we stayed at Suidobashi during out last visit to Tokyo, I would pass by this group of restaurants each time I walked along the Kanda River to reach Akihabara. Finally, we stumbled into the establishment one evening for a pleasant dinner experience.
The Kanda River flows from Sumida (Asakusa area) all the way til Mitaka (far West of Tokyo where the Ghibli Museum, Mitaka is located). It is especially beautiful near Suidobashi, which is famous for its two to three hundred year old bridge. The areas that span between Suidobashi and Akihabara is pretty sub-urban with lots of personality. Kind of the way I like it.
Yet we ended up at at the restaurant by chance, not willing to play the Singaporean “anything” game, we had agreed this night to enter the first restaurant on sight. Fortunately, it happened to be El Chateo del Puente. After an overdose of noodles, I had been hoping to try some foreign cuisine in Japan. I know it sounds silly but overseas food is known for being excellent there too. In the past, when Tokyo underwent a culinary boom, instead of just importing in foreign names like in Singapore, many local Chefs aspired to travel overseas and bring back their skills to Japan.
The problem with eating foreign cuisine in Japan though is that the menu was in Spanish and Japanese. Two languages none of us were wholly proficient in. Wilson took his guess at the various Spanish names, while I tried to figure out the menu from the Katakana and random Kanjis. On the opposite table, a young European woman was here dining with some of her local friends. She spoke perfect Japanese, loudly. This was clearly a place you could get comfortable in.
The waiter let us know that our Paella would take more than half an hour to arrive. Seated near the window on the basement level, we could see that it was still raining outside, so we weren’t in a particular rush. And we’d much rather they take their time to provide us a good meal. Perhaps it was in contrast to the cold weather outside but most establishments in Tokyo seemed to provide an incredibly ambiance.
We ordered a bunch of tapas, which are the Spanish equivalent of Dim Sum. The dishes were served one at a time to give us time to chat or simply bask in the atmosphere but promptly enough that we always had something on the table. The first item was a Spanished Potato Omelette. It was nice. It was pretty late, so were kind of hungry so perhaps such dining wasn’t the best idea. But we definitely appreciated this heartier dish.
Next up were some mussels in wine sauce. The sauce was a little too light though, such that the only thing giving it flavor were the pepper bits on top. It was pretty cold, so I was looking forward to some thing to warm up too so I ordered what I assumed was soup. It turned out to be a strange concoction of egg and lard. There were also bacon bits inside. I’ve never been too good with thick or heavy foods so it was a little disappointing, if not disgusting. But I could see some who might appreciate it.
Not forgetting the marinated cuttlefish which was really tasty. Wilson also ordered a bunch of skewered meats which were indeed delicious.
After a long wait our Chorizo Paella eventually came. It was well worth the wait though.
Unlike the kind we are more used to in Singapore, the Paella here was cooked till practically dry. All the sauce had been soaked up by the rice. Really amazing stuff, who knew rice could taste this good. As MJ put it, it was the tastiest rice he had ever had. Every bit and mouthful was full of flavor.
Surprisingly, the entire meal had set us back less than SGD$30 per person. It was definitely an enjoyable dining experience and I’d love to return to El Chateo del Puente sometime again.
El Chateo del Puente (エル・チャテオ・デル・プエンテ)
Shouhei Bridge, Under JR Tracks
2-9 Kanda Awajicho, Chioyoda Ward, Tokyo
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