Though far from the source, The Aldgate aims to provide a space where people can feel British even while being in Tokyo. The pub has British interiors, British food, British beer, British music and British football on the screens.
The interior decoration is so authentic that most UK folk walking through the door get a stab of nostalgia, and a much-welcomed tonic for their homesickness. A collection of some 6,000 CDs provides a variable soundtrack for your homeland experience.
The specialty of the pub is 21 kinds of draft beer from all over the world including Japan, the US, and the UK. The temperature and gas pressure of each beer is specially calibrated, to maintain a top level of quality control. A good place to start is with the pub’s original beers, namely the Aldgate Ale and the Harry Porter. Try the Sankt Gallen London Calling Real Ale and Yona Yona hand-pumped in the traditional way, plus classics such as Old Speckled Hen and Abbot.
The pub offers a Cornish pasty made from scratch on the premises, as well as the best fish ‘n’ chips in Tokyo—with the fish coated in a beer-based batter that ensures it accompanies the golden nectar to perfection. With a mostly expat staff, and a truly British style, The Aldgate is the cheapest way to get back to the UK this summer.
● 3F Shin-Iwasaki Bldg, 30-4 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3462-2983. Open Mon-Fri 6pm-2am, Sat-Sun & hols 5pm-2am. www.the-aldgate.com
Proudly announcing itself as “The Great American Lager,” Budweiser’s image pegs readily onto the innocent smile of the girl next door, back from cheerleader practice with a cooler in her trunk. At the two Tokyo locations of Budweiser Carnival (plus one in Kannai), this image becomes reality.
This beer hall and sports bar is emphatically targeted at the red-blooded-male demographic, with Bud-girls serving up frothing pints and stacked plates. The dishes are mainly meat-based—naturally—and certain choices off the menu will even occasion a little dance from your serving wenches. Even if you don’t order the danceable dishes, however, there’s an opportunity to see the staff shake it up during monthly DJ events at the Budweiser Carnival Shinjuku branch.
The beer is all about smooth drafts, stouts, and half-and-half. Stop in between 4-6:30pm daily until the end of August to quaff all drafts, stouts and bottles of beer for just ¥315. Soak up the booze with pork ribs (¥1,280), grilled chicken (¥680), and bacon steak (¥880).
As a special offer, bring a copy of Metropolis magazine to get a ¥3,500 course deal with six dishes, a performance by your very own Bud girl—and two full hours of all-you-can-drink! Then, all drafts and stouts will be ¥315, no matter how many times you order—put that one to the test.
● Shinjuku: 1-16-3 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-5287-3260. Nearest stn: Shinjuku. Open 4pm-midnight; Shimbashi: Tel: 03-3504-8111. Nearest stn: Shimbashi. Open 5pm-midnight; Kannai: Tel: 045-226-3655. Nearest stn: Kannai. Open 11am-11pm. www.kitanokazoku.jp/budweiser/index.html
Chinese Cafe Eight
All day, all week, all year, Chinese Café Eight serves up delicious and reasonable Chinese food. There are more than 300 dishes on the menu, and the cooks are experts highly rated back home in China. The Roppongi and Ebisu locales are decorated with religious statues of a phallic nature, including a gigantic gold penis in Roppongi that will provide a hilarious backdrop to your meal—especially when you stop in at 4am for a midnight feast.
Chinese Café Eight is famous for its Beijing duck course (¥3,680, for 3-4 people)—a whole duck shredded up and served with pancakes and all the trimmings. There are also 28 types of boiled dumplings (¥105/3), handmade to order.
As far as beer is concerned, the summer demands something chilled, and Chinese Café Eight complies with Asahi extra cold, served at -2ºC through a special contraption. Fifty small plate appetizers can be out in a jiffy to accompany your cold beer guzzling. The open atmosphere of the restaurants lends a beer-hall quality to proceedings, and the lively chatter makes everyone feel at home. Look out for monthly Chinese conversation practice, or chill with the English-speaking staff.
● Roppongi: 2F Court Annex Roppongi, 3-2-13 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5414-5708. Open 24/7. Nearest stn: Roppongi. Ebisu: 3F ABC-MAMIES Bldg, 1-16-12 Ebisu-Minami, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3713-2858.
● Akasaka: B1F Floral Plaza Bldg, 3-8-8 Akasaka, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-6234-9788. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.chinesecafe8.com
Craft Beer Sakaba Adagio
Beers connect the world—or so runs the fundamental philosophy underpinning the activity of the cheery folk at Sakaba Adagio. At this Nihombashi waterhole, rock up and tuck into a full 50 kinds of bottled beers, and eight different taps—comprised of four Japanese and four international beers, with three permanent and five constantly in rotation. The main varieties of tasty fluid on the menu are Japanese craft beers, with Baird Beer from Shizuoka Prefecture a notably delicious example. Old standards like Guinness (¥900/pint) and Hoegaarden (¥750/regular) are regularly on offer, alongside rare beers that hail from all over our green planet. In fact, after tasting them, you might fancy packing a knapsack and setting off on a world tour of your own.
Instead of serving up fancy foods that would conflict with the tastes of the amber liquid on offer, Craft Beer Sakaba Adagio proffers a neat and fitting menu, including such classics as fish ‘n’ chips (¥580/800), Margherita pizza (¥780), and chicken confit (¥780).
The crowd is always mixed at Craft Beer Sakaba Adagio, with local businessfolk and beer lovers on weekdays, while weekends and holidays see folks flocking in from further afield. Located in the atmospheric old sector part of Tokyo, this is a good stop for a day or night on the town. Follow @ningyochoadagio on Twitter for beery updates.
● 8F Gyokueido bldg, 2-3-2 Ningyocho, Nihombashi, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3661-2328. Email: email@example.com. Open Sat-Thu 5pm-2:30am, Fri 5pm-5am. Nearest stn: Ningyocho or Suitengu. http://r.gnavi.co.jp/gazu600
There’s always whisky in the jar at The Dubliners’ pubs. And you don’t have to go very far to find them. With branches in all the key Tokyo neighborhoods, the best Irish pub in Japan offers its distinct brand of merry-making to gaijin and Japanese punters alike—straight from the land of Guinness and good times. Whether you like just a tipple of beer or copious amounts of it, ramble into one of The Dubliners’ branches to slurp in style.
This summer, keep August 4 reserved for The Dubliners’ famous “Beer Hall” promotion. Bound to put the smile on any sociable lad or lass, this seasonal highlight has ¥500 pints on offer all day. Each of this merry Irish locale’s six locations has an ample food menu, including traditional Irish pub fare like fish ‘n’ chips, exotic treats such as baked mussels with garlic butter, and shepherd’s pie. Though happy hour finishes at 7pm at all locations, it starts at different times in different branches, making it theoretically possible to drink happily all day on a Dubliners’ bar crawl. And if ¥800 pints and ¥500 cocktails don’t make you happy, we don’t know what will.
If you fancy pairing up your guzzlin’ with some jig-making melodies, ask each branch about their live Irish music schedule.
● Shinjuku: 2F Shinjuku Lion Hall, 3-28-9 Shinjuku. Tel: 03-3352-6606. Nearest stn: Shinjuku. Shibuya: Tel: 03-5459-1736. Nearest stn: Shibuya.
● Other branches: Shinagawa 03-6718-2834, Ikebukuro 03-5951-3614, Akasaka 03-3539-3615 and Toranomon 03-5501-1536. Call for addresses and hours. www.dubliners.jp
Fill up on eight different draft beers (from ¥800) at Failte, a premium haven for Gaelic gorging in the merry middle of Shibuya. Guinness and Kilkenny from Ireland, London Pride from the UK, Heineken from Holland, Belle-Vue Kriek and Vedett Extra White from Belgium, and Suntory Premium Malt’s from Japan all sit alongside a guest beer, chosen regularly by staff to challenge punters’ palates.
And what could go better with this tasty selection of beers than an authentic homestyle menu? The signature dish at Failte is fish ‘n’ chips, with a trinity of tasty fishes—namely cod, salmon, and marlin—on offer. Small size (¥800) will get you one fish, medium (¥1,200) two, and large (¥2,400) will see all three land themselves onto your plate, so fresh you can hear the ocean roar as you tuck in. Other dishes include homemade smoked salmon (¥700), an assorted cheese plate (¥1,600), beef in Guinness (¥1,500), and snacks such as chips (¥800).
Weekdays, Failte is the place to hit up after work, with fantastic prices until 7pm. Get Heineken, Premium Malt’s, wine and cocktails for just one coin. With the summer season in full swing you can also plant yourself on the lovely terrace at Failte. Ask the staff about custom party plans, music events and live sport screenings.
● 5F Shibuya Sede bldg, 1-5-2 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3476-7776. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open Mon-Sat 5:30pm-2am, Sun & hols 3-11pm. Nearest stn: Shibuya. www.failte.jp
Frankly ludicrous prices abound at Genka Bar, whose name literally means “cost-price.” A ¥1,500 entry free gains you access to a full drinks and food menu for peanuts. It’s not nomihodai, but then, which all-you-can-drink deal includes premium single malts and martinis anyway?
Beerwise, tuck into Asahi Super Dry for ¥180, Bass Pale Ale for ¥250, not to mention premium whiskies like Glenfiddich and Glenlivet for around ¥120. If you consider that Guinness normally costs about a grand at other places, paying the entry fee to get pints for ¥300 starts to make some serious sense.
At Genka Bar the ambiance is izakaya-style, but without the otoshi you get in the usual beer-stained smoky nooks of the capital. Instead, the food—also at cost price, of course—includes respectable fare such as the roast beef plate with a tasty horseradish sauce (¥300), tuna carpaccio (¥270), and crudités with dip, to health things up a bit. Meanwhile, the speed menu offers prepackaged items liked mixed nuts, potato chips and dried fruits (from ¥90), or classier options like the Camembert cheese plate (¥300), or salami and olives (¥150).
Cool Frank Sinatra and Edith Piaf tunes croon out of the speakers, and a lively, enthusiastic clientele includes local 20- and 30-something professionals. All staff at Genka go through extensive training, so your beer will be poured to perfection, and served with a smile—at no extra cost.
● 2-3F Nozu Bldg, 2-5-8 Nishi Gotanda, Shinagawa-ku. Tel: 03-6417-9909. Open Mon-Sat 5pm-1am, Sun & hols 5pm-midnight. Nearest station: Gotanda. www.genkabar.jp
The Meguro Tavern
When it comes to beer, many Brits abroad find the hankering for their homeland becomes nigh on intolerable. Tears roll down grown men’s cheeks as they reminisce about their old local back in Blighty. However, buck up boys and girls because there is a place in Tokyo to ease your worries.
Established by expats in 1998, The Meguro Tavern is a family-run, London-style pub as authentic as they come—right down to the faded upholstery, the jangly bell at the door, and the “out-of-order” payphone in the corner. Known for its wonderful atmosphere—with founder and sole owner Garth Roberts usually on hand to welcome guests—The Meguro Tavern has been voted “The Best Pub in Tokyo.”
The Meguro Tavern caters to Japanese looking to experience a true London pub, expats keen for an upmarket locale that reminds them of home, and sports fans looking for a screen to watch EPL, rugby, F1GP, and more.
Eight beers are on tap (from ¥950/pint) including a unique micro-brewed bitter, plus all your favorite bottles, cocktails and 48 kinds of whiskey. Don’t miss happy hour from 5:30-8pm weekdays for ¥200 off pints and ¥300 off cocktails.
Along with the famous Sunday roast carvery in the cooler months (Oct-Jun), The Meguro Tavern serves authentic comfort food including “the best fish ‘n’ chips in town” (¥1,200), and 170g NZ sirloin steaks (¥1,000) on Wednesday nights.
● 2F Sunwood Meguro, 1-3-28 Shimo Meguro, Meguro Ku. Tel 03-3779-0280. Open Mon-Sat 5:30pm-1am, Sun noon-midnight. Nearest stn: Meguro. www.themegurotavern.com
Just a couple of hops from Roppongi Hills, find Roti Roppongi, where “hops” is indeed the operative word. For ladles of the fizzy golden liquid that everyone craves, the cool, tranquil terrace or stylish and comfortable interior of this central Tokyo institution is the place to settle.
Get yourself seen to with perfect pints of fine American micro-brewed ale from both the West and East Coasts—all specially selected to accompany Roti’s meals to a T. With seven rotating taps Roti is sure to have a brew just right for any mood and you can always check out “what’s on tap today” by following @roticraftbeer via Twitter.
From Monday to Friday cruise by between 5-7pm for 25% off all craft beer. You can also fill your Crafty Card to get yourself a free pint after every five you buy—which tends to come round pretty often with most of the punters.
The end of rainy season heralds beer garden season in Tokyo, so take this opportunity to educate your palate with a few of the beers available at Roti, including the rock-solid Stone IPA and other Roti favorites from inspired brewers at Rogue, Green Flash, Ballast Point, Maui Brewing, Anderson Valley, Moylans, and more. Don’t forget the Shizuoka brewers as well, such as Bryan and Sayuri Baird’s Baird Brewing. Like Roti on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RotiRoppongi) for more updates.
● 1F Piramide Bldg, 6-6-9 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5785-3671. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-5pm & 6-11pm, Sat-Sun & hols 11:30am-5pm. Nearest stn: Roppongi. www.roti.jp
Sip Mexican beers such as Corona, Sol, Bohemia, Tecate and Negromodelo at the Mexican bar-restaurant Taco Libre. The first restaurant opened in Ochanomizu in October 2011 to provide authentic cuisine and wine, margaritas and tequila from South and Central America. Such was its success that the second branch launched in Yokohama six months later.
The venues use dinnerware and décor imported directly from Mexico to give a genuine atmosphere. There is a bar area, main dining area and outdoor terrace seating, and the restaurants can host parties, from small groups to full restaurant (65 sitting, 80 standing). Party courses are very reasonably priced with a five-dish, two-hour all-you-can-drink menu starting from ¥3,500.
À la carte items at Taco Libre start from ¥500, and the chef’s seasonal menu from ¥850. Specialties include burritos for ¥1,200, the famous seafood ceviche for ¥900, and tacos (two) for ¥800. To complement your meal, a variety of margaritas made with seasonal fruit are offered, plus 20 kinds of wine from South and Central America, Mezcal, and a wide range of tequila.
Taco Libre is easily accessible from anywhere in Tokyo, conveniently located as it is near four stations—Ogawamachi and Awajicho (one minute), Jimbocho (three minutes), and Ochanomizu (five minutes). Stop in during this season for their bottle of beer campaign—buy three and get one free!
● 1F Oomiya Daini Bldg, 2-6 Kanda-Ogawamachi, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-5281-2775. Email: email@example.com. Open Mon-Fri 11:30-3:30pm & 5pm-midnight, Sat-Sun & hols 11:30am-midnight. Nearest stn: Ogawamachi, Awajizho, Jimbocho, and Ochanomizu. www.taco-libre.com
Tequila bar Frida
For you Chuo line regulars, or those who like heading out west to this fertile ground of bars, restaurant and music venues, get your Mexican fix at Tequila Bar Frida by Nishi-Ogikubo station. In this Hispanic haven, you can sup on over 80 different kinds of tequila, to the sound of soul, funk, reggae, rock, blues and jazz—all with no service charge. Sit along the counter, or grab the table for a group.
At Frida, you can try rare tequilas that would cost a fortune elsewhere at the frankly incredible price range of ¥500-1,500. Not just the obvious brands, either, like Porfidio and Patron, but a host of other labels, nearly all of which are made from 100% agave.
If you can’t handle the tough stuff, or you need a chaser, there are plenty of light Mexican beers for you to sample.
To accompany this drink fest, opt from a selection of Texan and Mexican dishes, such as tacos and nachos from ¥450-900.
Every month as the full moon hangs in the sky, stop in to enjoy a selected tequila at a discounted price. And if you bring along this copy of Metropolis, one customer can get a free shot of tequila from Tequila Bar Frida’s menu.
● B1-3 Century Nishi-Ogikubo, 3-3-6 Nishi Ogi-Kita, Suginami-ku. Tel: 03-6913-7199. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open Tue-Sun 7pm-3am, closed Mon. Nearest stn: Nishi-Ogikubo. http://nishiogi-frida.jp/english
World Beer Museum
Put down your beercyclopedia and taste the global history of the beverage for yourself at the World Beer Museum—a true place for ale aficionados. The museum’s noble aim is for guests to deepen their beery understanding, via about 15 drafts (from ¥750) and more than 130 bottled varieties.
The famous five, as far as the World Beer Museum is concerned, are Germany’s Franziskaner Weissbier, the Czech Senkovni Pale 10, the British Endeavour, Pike IPA from the US, and Brugse Zot from Belgium. You can also tuck into some original beers like the Tokyo Skytree Town Beer Premium or Pilsner—both priced at ¥634 in a nod to the Skytree’s metric height—and raise a toast to the world’s new tallest tower. Meanwhile, to mop up the sauce, tuck into some international dishes: US-style hamburgers, German sausages, British fish ‘n’ chips, and Italian pasta.
The World Beer Museum is located in Soramachi, aka Skytree town—the most upcoming spot in the capital. There are terrace seats for more than 100 and all together more than 300 guests can fit through the doors. Step up to five bar counters themed on the big five of beer countries: Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic, the US, and the UK. You can also peruse a “beer map,” which will bone you up on the beverage around the world.
● 7F Tokyo Skytree Town Soramachi, 1-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida-ku. Tel: 03-5610-2648. Open daily 11am-11pm. www.world-liquor-importers.co.jp
Take a global tour at Billy’ Stand, with over 30 beers from around the world. Open from 7:30am until 3am the next day, Billy’ Stand can furnish you with tasty exotic beers that can be had pretty much all day and night long. And if you stop in from 6-11pm, your frothing beverage will even be served by rollicking cowgirls.
International beer varieties start at ¥650 and include Danish, Irish, English, Dutch, Belgian, Czech, Sri Lankan and more. Try the Casablanca beer from Morocco and it could be the start of a beautiful friendship, or the Nepal Ice Beer for a cool swig of the mountains.
Food starts at ¥350 for such fitting snacks as French fries, fried chicken, sausages, olives and more. From 5-11pm, grab a glass of any drink plus two appetizers for just ¥1,000. From 11pm-3am, you can get a glass plus one appetizer for ¥800. The table charge is ¥300 after 11pm.
Billy’ Stand sits inside Washington Hotel, so the clientele is an international bunch, mixed with Japanese folks of business and leisure. It’s just by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, so you can hop up to enjoy the city view for free. Once you’ve feasted eyes on the Sky Tree, towering over the urban landscape, rock up to Billy’ Stand and order the Japanese 634 Beer, named after the height in meters of Tokyo’s latest landmark.
● 1F Shinjuku Washington Hotel, 3-2-9 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-6302-3072. Open Mon-Sat 7:30am-3am (next day). Nearest stn: Tochomae or Shinjuku. http://r.gnavi.co.jp/e403600