The origins of tapas are murky, but the most amusing origin story goes like this: A Spanish king, Alfonso The Wise, fell ill and could only ingest tiny meals and small sips of wine during his recovery. After returning to full health, he mandated that the inns along the national roads should also have small dishes and drinks to serve to travelers.

The culinary concept remained popular as Spaniards usually eat dinner between 9-11pm, so the snacks are convenient to soak up after-work drinks.

In west San Jose, Bay Bar Grill has repackaged the Spanish tapas tradition into an Asian fusion destination for local sports fans. Their brick walls feature a dozen TVs and multiple (slightly outdated) murals dedicated to the Warriors. Instead of bottles of Spanish sherry, they boast an ample sake selection and 10 on-tap beers that can be shared out of a three liter “tower” (starting at $27).

Their signature dish is the Chicken Curry Toast ($10.95) and I’ve never seen anything like it. They toast a cube of white bread, burning the restaurant’s name into one of the sides. Then they hollow out that cube and fill it with bite-sized pieces of stewed dark meat and potatoes. To consume it, I cut from the corner, taking a bite of the bread and the meat, then dipping it in the accompanying square dish of sauce. The yellow curry possessed layered flavors, crisp ginger notes and a bit of back-of-the-throat heat. And the soft bread with a crispy exterior made for a well-suited, if untraditional absorber and transporter.

The lamb chop (4.75) was dry-rubbed with a cumin-centric blend that complimented its richness. Skewered scallops (3.95) had charred edges thanks to a quick blast over the charcoal grill. Beef short ribs were dressed in a Korean teriyaki-style sauce, and I couldn’t resist the tender chunks of Wagyu beef ($3.95), from Japanese cattle bred for higher fat marbling. I also tried their fresh, silky oysters (6 for $6). Served on a bowl of shredded ice, the aphrodisiac had two sauce choices: a citrusy Ponzu dotted with roe or a tangy Thai chili variety. To finish my tour, I had the grilled mussels (3 for $4.95), which were drizzled in a potent garlic butter.

Next season, when the Warriors return with a flamethrowing starting line-up, hungry fans can head to the Bay Bar Grill and eat like a king.

Bay Bar Grill
375 Saratoga Ave, San Jose.