At star power of El Bulli’s former chef de cuisine Albert Raurich's latest opening, the setup is half the fun: you enter a traditional tapas bar (it’s actually new) in the Raval quarter.
Continue through beaded curtains at the back and you emerge into a designed-to-death red-and-black Asian cubbyhole, where Catalan and Japanese chefs steam dumplings behind a deep, angled counter. Dos Palillos (two chopsticks) is Raurich’s tribute to Asian snacks. Order the onsen-poached egg in a cold dashi broth highlighted with crystals of freeze-dried soy sauce (an El Bulli trick). Ponder the salty, tangy complexity of monkfish liver with yuzu gelée, steamed after a long soak in sake and ginger. Quaff some Inedit, a suave ale bottled especially for Ferran Adrià and his cohorts. While the back room serves multicourse degustation menus, the no-reservations “Spanish” front space offers the same small plates à la carte.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.