When in Tokyo, it may seem counterintuitive to seek out restaurants that don’t serve Japanese food. Sometimes, however, an international restaurant is so sensational that it’s worth diverging from the ever-popular offerings of sushi, ramen and yakitori. Tinc Gana is one such venue.
Opened in autumn 2022, this Ichigaya restaurant is Chef Jérôme Quilbeuf’s most upscale establishment yet, with tasting menus that offer modern takes on Spanish cuisine. Quilbeuf describes Tinc Gana as a ‘Gastrobar de Barcelona’, but unlike his open kitchen Gracia in Hiroo, where diners can order from the a la carte menu on a casual weeknight, Tinc Gana has a formal feel to it that makes you want to pull out your best outfit and celebrate a special occasion.
Lunch courses are priced at ¥6,500, ¥9,000 and ¥15,000, while dinner courses are ¥12,000 and ¥19,000. Like the restaurant's interior, which is accented with an olive green kitchen countertop and tall vases of fresh flowers, the dishes here are elegant, bright and vibrant. A meal usually starts with Quilbeuf’s version of salmorejo, which is a fuller, creamier cousin of gazpacho with roots in Andalusia. Here, a refreshing emulsion of fresh tomatoes, onion and green paprika is served with delicate wheels of cucumber and flash-boiled kuruma ebi prawns.
Depending on the season, a dish that might appear later in the course is a spin on arroz negro, a paella-like dish where rice is cooked in squid ink that turns it black. Quilbeuf takes this classic one step further by stuffing his arroz negro in yari ika (spear squid) and finishing it in a sauce of squid ink and white pepper.
Dessert is, of course, Quilbeuf’s famous Basque cheesecake, made with a combination of Japanese dairy and cheese imported from Spain. Every rich (and gluten-free!) slice is characterised by a slightly burnished, caramelly exterior and a smooth gooey centre, the secret to which the chef-owner keeps closely guarded. And who could blame him? The recipe for this signature cake alone took two months to perfect.
Happily you don’t need a weeks-in-advance reservation to enjoy the cheesecake, which you can order from the restaurant’s terrace seats (also available for takeaway). Take it from us though – eating the whole menu here is well worth the splurge.