It seems cliché, but in Barcelona if you see Japanese people eating in a tasca japonesa, it must be good, right? I certainly don’t see my Japanese friends eating out in the “Japanese” restaurants run by Chinese people (shocking), or even the much more authentic ones we only try when someone else is paying. But there we were in Maruya, a table of two speaking English next to a Catalan family of four, and the rest of the clientele were speaking Japanese (the “rest” of the clientele totaled a whopping six people; there are only three tables plus a few bar stools). Obviously, this tasca is a beacon of glorious authenticity.
And Maruya is labeled a tasca, not in the traditional casa-de-juego-de-mala-fama Spanish sense, but because that’s the closest match to the beloved izakaya, the Japanese version of a tapas bar (with, perhaps, more drinking), a.k.a. the place I’d like you to spread my ashes.
You can go in for sushi and sashimi, or you can swing yakisoba, a curry donburi, a killer miso (yes, there is a difference), unagi nigiri – kicking myself for not trying it – and so on. Prices are very fair. They do a menú del día, accept reservations, and I plan on being there once a week for the rest of my life.