Grabbing a drink after work with colleagues or friends in Tokyo is great fun as there are so many options to choose from. These are some of my favorites from Food Sake Tokyo.
This friendly tachinomi (standing bar) is located on the back streets of Shinjuku Sanchome. Designed with Showa era items, it feels like stepping back in time. The shop features grilled innards, but you can have some items sashimi style. The brains are creamy and the yudetan (boiled tongue) is tender. If you can, grab a spot at the counter and notice how vigilant the staff is at keeping their cutting boards spotless. You can also see everything that’s being grilled and coming out of the open kitchen staffed with young, handsome men.
Shinjuku 3-7-3, Marunaka Building 1st floor
17:00 – 24:00, no holidays
Near Yoyogi-Uehara station is an upscale izakaya with a great selection of sake in the windowed refrigerator behind the long counter. The menu is diverse, including seafood, and small bites that call out to be had with nihonshu such as nuta, a vinegary miso dressing with seasonal seafood, or grilled ginko nuts.
Shibuya-ku, Uehara 1-32-15, Kobayashi Bldg. 1st floor
17:00 – 23:00, closed Sunday and holidays
Since 1925, Yamariki has often been ranked as one of the top ten izakaya in the city. Located in the shitamachi district of Morishita, there is usually a line waiting to get in. There is a second shop down the street and the staff will direct you there. Their signature item is a nikomi made from cow innards, port wine, Hatcho miso, sugar, and bouquet garni. The store proudly says that they have been adding to the same nikomi for over 40 years now. The other house specialty is the yakiton or grilled pork bits on a skewer. What makes Yamariki unique is they have a wine list (French only) and a friendly sommelier, Mizukami-san, who will help you match a wine with your food, as well as, of course, sake.
Koto-ku, Morishita 2-18-8
17:00 – 22:00, closed Sunday and holidays
Tachigui Sakaba Buri
The walls at buri are decorated with colorful cup sake from all over Japan. There are over 30 different types of sake served in individual cups. A unique sake to try is the frozen sake that is like a slush. The menu is filled with small plates of sake-friendly foods like seasonal seafood and grilled meats.
Tachigui Sakaba buri
Shibuya-ku, Ebisu-Nishi 1-14-1
17:00 – 3:00 a.m., no holidays
Stand Bar Maru
Maru may be one of the best bargains in the city for standing bars. Located next door to a wine shop with about 200 wines, customers can purchase a bottle and have it opened for drinking at a nominal fee. The first floor is standing only (tachinomi), but if you get there early enough, you may be able to snag a seat in the second floor restaurant. Following the tapas concept, legs of Iberico ham are shaved per order, small plates are to share, and the grilled meats are highly recommended. This shop is in an out of the way area and is always busy with local young hipsters and salary-men from the area. The staff at this fourth-generation shop is very friendly.
Stand Bar Maru
Chuo-ku, Hatchobori 3-22-10
17:00 – 23:00, closed weekends and holidays
This article first appeared in the ACCJ Journal.