Popular Chinatown bakery becomes tapas bar.

Sweets Raku, a French Japanese bakery on Spring Mountain Road in Chinatown, closed last June after ten years of serving chestnut cream cakes; staffing issues were apparently a contributing factor.

Casa de Raku, a Spanish tapas restaurant, discreetly opened in the same area over the holidays. Mitsuo Endo, the owner of both and a James Beard Award nominee.

always intended to build a Spanish tapas bar, which now joins two Japanese siblings, Aburiya Raku and Toridokoro Raku, in Endo's restaurant portfolio.

The entry of Casa de Raku is marked by wine bottles displayed behind glass. Around the corner is a tiny railroad-style dining room with brick accents, dark woods, and rich leathers. 

Banquette seating is on one side, bar stools with glasses overhead on the other; behind the bar, a leg of jamón Ibérico (the traditional Spanish ham) awaits slicing. A blackboard menu adorns one wall.

"When people walk in, we want it to feel like they're walking in from the streets of San Sebastián," said Cameron Mackintosh-Stewart, the restaurant's general manager, alluding to the well-known coastal resort in the Spanish Basque Country.

Pintxos (pinchos)—small nibbles in Basque—headline the menu: Crusty ovals of bread with varying crowns.

There's pan with tomate, with its expanse of tomato that nevertheless feels bright and fresh in January; parchment-thin slices of jamón provide rich fat and subtle salt.

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