Craft Beer – Yoyogi Watering Hole

Watering Hole near Yoyogi station is a great spot to try Japanese and imported craft beer. I felt like I was back in the US with the stickers on the wall and refrigerator. The menu is basic, fish and chips, mac n’ cheese, seasonal pickles, and rice crackers. Sadly, I believe the sweet potato chips are no longer on the menu. Bummer.

Watering Hole opens from 3 p.m., for those of you who are here on holidays, or if you finish work early. Friendly staff who help answer my questions about the brews. Check their website as they update their beer menu daily.

Watering Hole is a short walk from Shinjuku Takashimaya.

Watering Hole

Shibuya-ku, Sendagaya 5-26-5-103 渋谷区千駄ヶ谷5-26-5-103

http://wateringhole.jp/

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Aoyama Cicada

At Cicada in Aoyama, near Omotesando, I always order the mezze plate. I love the variety of small bites, often with lots of vegetables. If you have allergies, or prefer for an all vegetable mezze, the kitchen is great to substitute something.

I sometimes come by myself and sit at the bar.  In New York City I found it very easy to start up conversations with complete strangers, but that is much harder to do here in Japan. However, I’ve met some interesting people here, including a designer. In our conversation we realized that we both worked on the same food project, at different stages. Cicada is that type of restaurant that draws in an international crowd, but also internationally-minded locals. There is always a buzz in the restaurant and the staff speak English.

The draft beer is from T.Y. Harbor, their sister shop. The wine list is reasonably priced and there is a nice selection of wines-by-the-glass that match the Mediterranean-inspired cuisine.

There is outdoor seating, but that seems to book up quickly, so plan ahead if you want to dine al fresco.

Aoyama Cicada4

Aoyama Cicada Mezze

Cicada

Minato-ku, Minami-Aoyama 5-7-28 港区南青山5-7-28

https://www.tysons.jp/cicada/en/

Aoyama Cicada

Cicada - Mezze

Cicada – Mezze

At Cicada in Aoyama, near Omotesando, I always order the mezze plate. I love the variety of small bites, often with lots of vegetables. If you have allergies, or prefer for an all vegetable mezze, the kitchen is great to substitute something.

I sometimes come by myself and sit at the bar.  In New York City I found it very easy to start up conversations with complete strangers, but that is much harder to do here in Japan. However, I’ve met some interesting people here, including a designer. In our conversation we realized that we both worked on the same food project, at different stages. Cicada is that type of restaurant that draws in an international crowd, but also internationally-minded locals. There is always a buzz in the restaurant and the staff speak English.

Cicada Mezze2

Cicada – Mezze

The draft beer is from T.Y. Harbor, their sister shop. The wine list is reasonably priced and there is a nice selection of wines-by-the-glass that match the Mediterranean-inspired cuisine.

There is outdoor seating, but that seems to book up quickly, so plan ahead if you want to dine al fresco.

Cicada

Minato-ku, Minami-Aoyama 5-7-28 港区南青山5-7-28

https://www.tysons.jp/cicada/en/

 

T.Y. Harbor – Oasis in Tokyo

 

T.Y. Harbor

T.Y. Harbor

Tokyo is a massive city and there are so many parts that I have yet to explore. One of the coolest areas, literally cool as the area is surrounded by canals, is Tennoz Isle. Until now I have only passed through on the monorail on my way to Haneda airport. Now I am kicking myself for not having come much earlier. What a great, quiet oasis in the city. It did not feel one bit like I was in Tokyo. The breeze coming off the water is welcomed in this heat and humidity. I went recently to meet a girlfriend who works in the area to eat at T.Y. Harbor.

T.Y. Harbor has been here since 1997 and is a rare microbrewery in the city. I have had the beer at some of the sister shops like Cicada in Aoyama, and its a great craft beer that is very food friendly. I was surprised at how big the restaurant is inside. The outdoor patio seating overlooking the canals is also spacious. We came early to beat the lunch rush, around 11:30 a.m. and already it was almost full on the deck. Service is friendly, the staff speak English, and the menu is filled with great salads, daily specials, and burgers. The daily specials are put online each week. The burger hits the spot for this American. It’s a big burger, meaty, and comes with a generous serving of fries. The brioche buns are made at the breadworks bakery which is located next door. My girlfriend got a big salad that was topped with beets, blue cheese, and chicken. The lunch meal also comes with a bottomless glass of iced tea or Nozy coffee, a rarity in Tokyo, the concept of a bottomless glass of tea.

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Avocado Caesar Salad

The half-size Caesar salad with avocados is big enough for a meal and is generous with the Parmeggiano-Reggiano cheese. The vegetarian options beyond the salad include a hearty sandwich or a Chana saag spinach and garbanzo curry.

There were a handful of tables with small kids and parents and the staff were accommodating. The weekend brunch menu is filled with lots of comfort dishes like pizza, pasta, barbecue ribs, and the burgers. I can only imagine it is a very popular spot on the weekends.

T.Y. Harbor is worth the journey. Allow for some time to walk around the canals before or after your meal. A few times during our lunch I told my girlfriend that I felt like I was back in America. Citibank Japan’s office is nearby and there were a lot of workers from the office there. It was fun to be surrounded by so much English. Escape the madness of the city in this oasis near Shinagawa.

T.Y. Harbor

Shinagawa-ku, Higashi-Shinagawa 2-1-3

The weekly menu is posted online.

 

Tokyo Food Guide

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photo by Olen Peterson

We can demystify Tsukiji Market, the world’s largest seafood market,

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and introduce you to a new sushi neta, like kinmedai (splendid alfonsino) that is pink, slightly sweet, and is succulent.

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Introduce you to a wide variety of Japanese pickles.

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Lead you to a special bar where cocktails are made with seasonal fruit and vegetables,

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or to a bar serving craft beer and sweet potato chips.

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Explore the unique izakaya culture from smoky grilled meat joints
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to saké specialty restaurants and discover the subtle nuances of saké through flights of saké,

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or through the native distilled spirit, shōchū. Yukari was the first non-Japanese to pass the shōchū advisor exam.

DSCN5688Explore street food on the side streets of Tokyo,
depachika sugar grapesphoto by Nancy Matsumoto

or to my old stomping grounds, Takashimaya depachika, to discover sugar-coated muscat grapes and

depachika sashimi matsumoto

photo by Nancy Matsumoto

seasonal sashimi.

Food Sake Tokyo guides are a chef and Japanese fishmonger. We are Tokyo’s food guides. Please contact us here for more information on our market tours.

Blue Moon in Tokyo

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A new craft beer, Blue Moon, has arrived to Tokyo. Blue Moon is something we drank from time to time when we lived in New York City. It’s refreshing, citrusy, and light on the palate. I can imagine that it will be very popular in Japan. Craft beers in Japan are very hot with many new bars opening up serving a variety of domestic and imported craft beer. Blue Moon’s timing could not be better for entering the market in Japan.

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Keith Villa, head brewmaster and founder of Blue Moon, was recently in Tokyo to launch the craft beer in its newest destination. The first venues to carry Blue Moon include:

Craft Hands in Azabu Juban

Tavern Meat and Bakery in Naka-Meguro

Craftheads in Shibuya

Cataratas in Shibuya

Beard in Meguro

Mardi Gras in Ginza

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Unfortunately Blue Moon is currently only being sold at bars. Hopefully it will be soon sold retail. I did get a bottle to bring home, along with an orange, at the launch party. I was inspired to make a carpaccio style dish using the orange. This simple octopus carpaccio with an orange vinaigrette was a nice partner to Blue Moon. Blue Moon has hints of orange, coriander and is creamy. Welcome to Tokyo – look forward to seeing you around town at more places.