Keeping Tabs

Tachinomi, literally “stand-and-drink,” are izakaya that serve up small bites and quick drinks. As standing-only bars, it’s assumed that customers are just stopping by for a few sips before going on to another spot for the night—or finishing up with one last round before heading home.

Tachinomi are friendly, easygoing affairs where customers may be asked to squeeze in or move around to accommodate new guests. Some very casual spots are self-service with food already dished up on the counter. While most have you pay when you leave, some are pay-as-you-go—usually identifiable by a small container on the counter where you can leave your yen. The staff will take out money as needed as the night goes on. If you’re new, not to worry—just watch the other diners to figure out the lay of the land.

The menu at a tachinomi depends on the kind of drinks served. Places featuring beer and sake will serve up yakitori, while wine bars typically feature cured ham, cheese and other Western nibbles. If you’re not sure what order, a simple, “O-susume wa nan desu ka?” will get your started with some house specialties.

What makes them so popular? Perhaps the simple fact that they’re easy on the wallet. If you’re so inclined, you can even make a whole evening of going from one standing bar to the next—with Shimbashi and Ebisu particularly well suited to this purpose. Here are a few standouts:

A short walk from Ebisu station, the walls of Buri (1-14-1 Ebisu-Nishi, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3496-7744. Nearest stn: Ebisu) are lined with cup sake glasses. Be sure to order a slushy mizore-sake for a cool start to the night.

Shimbashi’s Tonko (2-9-17 Shimbashi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3508-1122. Nearest stn: Shimbashi. www.torishige.com/tonko) specializes in pork, and is staffed with friendly girls who take good care of the area’s salarymen.

Maru (3-22-10 Hatchobori, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3552-4477. Nearest stn: Hatchobori. http://maru-miyataya.com) is next door to Miyataya liquor shop in Hatchobori. Pick up a bottle of wine and the tachinomi staff will open it for a ¥500 corkage fee, mating your chosen beverage with jamón serrano, prosciutto and cheese.

New Kayaba (2-17-11 Nihonbashi-Kayabacho, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3664-7315. Nearest stn: Kayabacho) is a “men’s only” tachinomi opened in 1964. Women can come in, but only when escorted by a man. The nihonshu is pay-as-you-go from an old-school dispenser, and you can grill your own yakitori.

The genki staff at Saiseisakaba (3-7-3 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3354-4829. Nearest stn: Shinjuku Sanchome. http://meturl.com/3b) call out as you walk by­—as if the smoke from the yakitori wasn’t already an enticing invitation. If you’re game for some intense dishes, the menu includes brains and genitals­. By the way—the jars on the counters are for your used skewers folks.

By: Yukari Sakamoto | Jun 11, 2014 | No Comments | 1,400 views

word-mouth

The people at Whisk-e Ltd., who handle distribution for BrewDog craft beer in Japan, have wanted to open a bar in Tokyo since the UK locations opened by the bad boys of Scottish brewing became a hit. It took a while for things to come together—Stockholm and Sao Paulo opened in the meantime—but the Tokyo branch has been worth the wait.

At any given time, it features 20 selections on tap, half of which are BrewDog originals and the others are the “Best of the Rest,” or guest beers. Aside the six core BrewDog selection on tap, there are always four limited-edition options, leaving fans spoiled for choice. Some options are small-batch, experimental brews of which only two or three kegs are produced, and this is the only place were you can sample them.

The list of guest beers reads like a “brew’s who” of the craft scene. Most of these are sourced from abroad (Mikkeller, 8Wired, Lagunitas, Heretic Brewing, etc.), but there are also Japanese suds on tap from the likes of Minoh and Shiga Kogen.

If you want to give your taste buds a little break from beer, you can try the selection of whiskies and other spirits—rare stuff at ridiculously low prices—or have some nosh. There are the usual cheese and meat board offerings, but also a short menu of dishes designed to complement the various styles of beer on offer, like a pork chop dish cooked with 5am Saint amber ale. It’s all about using good ingredients—provenance being very important—and creating dishes that come with a little bit of a story. To give you an idea of the sort of thinking that reigns in the kitchen, the staff is experimenting with infusing olive oil with hops and also trying to produce a hop salt. Be prepared to be surprised.

Be prepared also to spend some time gazing around—not at fellow punters but at the quirky punk-meets-retro interior designed by Tokiko Okabe of Scandinavian Modern. Much of it was shipped over from the UK, including a huge red leather chesterfield, seats from an old Sheffield cinema and recycled floorboards from a Scottish high school gym that are now used to cover the outer walls of the cold room. There are also two so-called pata pata boards, listing the beers available. They look old arrival departure flight info boards and are connected to the PA system so when a new beer is put on tap, you can actually hear the beer list changing—that’s the pata pata sound.

BrewDog Roppongi is the sort of place that could easily become your second living room: endlessly stimulating and dangerously comfortable… be warned.

BrewDog Roppongi. 5-2-3 Roppongi, Minato-ku; Tel: 03-6447-4160. Mon-Thu 5pm-midnight, Fri-Sun 11am-midnight. www.brewdogbar.jp

 

By: Stefan Van Eycken | Mar 6, 2014 | One Comment | 1,740 views

word-mouth

Countdown to the Year of the Dragon at Club Dragon (1F Stork Nagasaki, 2-11-4 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku; 03-3341-0606), Ni-Chome’s spacious gay lounge staffed with friendly English-speaking waiters dressed in hot pants like go-go-boys. Not only are they foreigner-friendly, female entry is also allowed—though ladies may not get the same great deals as the men. Drinks are a bargain Fri-Sun, as beer and cocktails are all-you-can-drink (¥1,000) during happy hour and other drinks are ¥200 off between 6-9pm.

By: Margarita | Dec 2, 2011 | One Comment | 2,168 views

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