Asahi Super Dry Extra Gold Bar – Summer Only Bar

As summer is approaching Japan’s big beer companies are shaking things up with new bars and products.

Asahi Super Dry Extra Gold Bar Shinjuku opened today and will run through September 30th. It is located just outside of Shinjuku Station’s Nishi Guchi exit at Concourse MB on the 1st floor. It’s a standing bar only. One of the specialties the bar is promoting is a beer cocktail made with lemon called Black Lemon. There is also a bar in Ginza (Ginza 2-6-4) also through September 30th.

 

 

Ebisu Tachinomi Q

Tachinomi Q

Tachinomi Q

Tachinomi interior

Tachinomi interior

I first came upon this great standing bar about five years ago when it first opened. It had great reviews for being cheap, with great food, and a fun environment. It was exactly that. This is not your typical izakaya with Japanese fare but includes many tapa-style bites. The menu includes home-cured bacon, escargot, smoked butter toast, pork simmered in balsamico, and deep-fried octopus. The drink menu is extensive, including cocktails and whisky, but I stick to wine or sangria as it seems to be the best match with the food. The bar serves seven wines by the glass and is it is a busy place, the bottles are usually fresh. It is only a few minutes’ walk from the station, so perfect to stop by and have a drink and a few small plates if you are in the area.

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Shibuya-ku, Ebisu 4-4-2, Kuresuto Ebisu 1F

03-5793-5591

closed Sunday and holidays

17:00 – 4:00 a.m.

Tokyo’s Top Places to Drink

Izakaya 居酒屋 are literally places to have something to drink. When I was working as a sommelier at the New York Bar and Grill at the Park Hyatt Tokyo my shift would end late at night, well after dinner. I would often stop by a local izakaya for a beer and some small bites. What made this one so special was the friendly mama-san. I was always welcomed and the food was all made by okaasan. Good izakayas should be just this, offering good food and drinks, and making the customer feel comfortable.

Tokyo is also home to some of the world’s top mixologists at places like Star Bar Ginza  or Bar Tender. These will be covered in a separate post. For now, here are my favorite places to have a drink in Tokyo.

  1. A popular izakaya in the nostalgic shitamachi district of Morishita, Yamariki 山利喜  was introduced to me by Japan’s first Master Sommelier Ned Goodwin. Ned brought me here one night to drink French wines with izakaya cuisine. Yamariki has a sommelier on staff, Mizukami-san who will gladly pair wine with your order. One night here I ran into John Gauntner, who said the restaurant also has a great selection of nihonshu. Yamariki is also known for its nikomi, soy-simmered innards, which has been made with the same broth for over forty years. It is also known for its yakiton or grilled pork bits (like yakitori but made with pork instead of chicken). Koto-ku, Morishita 2-18-8.
  2. Sasagin 笹吟 has one of the better selections of nihonshu in the city and exquisite fare to go with it. Best of all, if you ask them to help you select interesting ones to try they will. It is very popular so reservations are highly recommended. Shibuya-ku, Uehara 1-32-15.
  3. For wine I love Maru マル because of its value. Next door to the standing bar is a wine shop. Pick up a bottle there and the corkage fee is only 500 yen at the bar. It feels a bit like a European wine bar with food like cured ham and cheese but there is also a grill station on the second floor for grilled skewers. There are also seats on the second floor. Chuo-ku, Hatchobori 3-22-10.
  4. Buri is a popular standing bar near Ebisu. I come here for the one cup sake, a selection of about 30 to choose from. Small plates to share, seasonal seafood, and some grilled meats. Ask for the frozen sake which is almost like a slushy. (I don’t think the brand I had was Hakutsuru, but this video shows you what the slushy looks like.)  Shibuya-ku, Ebisu-Nishi 1-14-1.
  5. Everyone needs at least one reliable place for beer and my go-to bar is The Harajuku Taproom. Delicious craft beer by the talented Bryan Baird and kushiyaki (grilled meats and vegetables). It is also conveniently located just off of Takeshita Dori, a few minutes’ walk from Harajuku station. There is also a location in Naka-Meguro. To educate your palate, try small cups of a variety of his beer. You won’t be disappointed. Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 1-20-13, No Surrender Bldg. 2F
  6. Saiseisakaba 再生酒場 is the place to go if you are into innards. From sashimi to simmered to grilled, you’ll find a wide selection to choose from. My personal favorite shop is in Monzennakacho but there is also a branch at the Shin Maru Building near Tokyo station. Alternatively, the Shinjuku branch too is a lot of fun. I usually drink shochu as it is a great partner for the offal. Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-7-3. www.ishii-world.jp/brand/motsu/nihonsaisei/shinjuku3/ 
  7. Located in the heart of Ginza, Sake no Ana 酒の穴 is on John Gauntner’s great book, The Sake Handbook. I came across it as I was looking for a place to try a variety of nihonshu over lunch and this was the only place that was open. I called ahead and was told that there was a kikizakeshi (sake sommelier) on staff and that he would be there for lunch. Sakamoto-san gave us exactly what we were looking for, a variety of different nihonshu. The evening menu is also available at lunch if you ask for it. Traditional izakaya bites like grilled himono (salted and air-dried fish), natto omelet, and much more. Chuo-ku, Ginza 3-5-8.
  8. It is a bit of a journey to Ikejiri Ohashi, but well worth it to get to Tsukushinoko つくしのこ. One of my favorite nights out learning about nihonshu with beer writer (and nihonshu aficionado) Bryan Harrell. It feels very local and cozy inside and the selection of nihonshu is great. Staff are also very knowledgeable and can help guide you through a variety of sips. Typical izakaya fare – ask for a nabe (hot pot) in the winter time, you won’t be disappointed. Meguro-ku, Higashiyama 3-1-11.
  9. If you are looking for somewhere to celebrate an occasion then the New York Bar & Grill in the Park Hyatt Tokyo is on top of my list. Perhaps you’ll recognize it from Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. The high ceilings and the spectacular views from the 52nd floor are breathtaking. My recommendation is to go just before sunset so that you can see the lights come up on the city as it sparkles below you. I used to work here, and I am even more convinced that this is one of Tokyo’s special places. Shinjuku-ku, Nishi-Shinjuku 3-7-1-2.
  10. A good martini and burger can be found at beacon in Aoyama. One of Tokyo’s top chefs, David Chiddo not only makes a great burger, he also knows his martinis. David’s Perfect Martini is made from one of my favorite gins, Hendricks. Parent company T.Y. Express is also the owner of the brewery TY Harbor, making really good beer, which is also on the menu here at beacon. Solo diners can sit at the bar and enjoy their martini and burger. Shibuya-ku, Shibuya 1-2-5.

Shinjuku – Saiseisakaba Standing Bar for Offal

Shinjuku Saiseisakaba

Shinjuku Saiseisakaba

Saiseisakaba in Shinjuku is one of my favorite standing bars in Tokyo. Located in Shinjuku Sanchome it is close to Isetan department store.

Brain Sashimi

Brain Sashimi

We asked the server for something unusual to start off with. He suggested brain sashimi. We were game, but when it arrived, my husband Shinji (who is a fishmonger and is accustomed to eating many weird things) was not willing to take the first bite. I dug in and actually enjoyed it, similar in texture to shirako (fish sperm sacs).

Stewed Tongue

Stewed Tongue

Moving onto something cooked we had gyutan (cow tongue) that is simmered for a long time until tender, one of my favorite dishes at Saiseisakaba.

The grill at Saiseisakaba

The grill at Saiseisakaba

This interior shot overlooking the kitchen shows the sumi (charcoal) grill. Saiseisakaba also offers a variety of different offal grilled. These foods go with beer, sake, or shochu.

Saiseisakaba English Menu

Saiseisakaba English Menu

A friend went recently and sent me the new menu in English. Photo credit to Stephen McCready. Arigato Stephen!

Saiseisakaba 再生酒場

Shinjuku 3-7-3, Marunaka Building 1st floor 新宿区新宿3−7−3、丸中ビル1階

Tel. 03-3354-4829

17:00 – 24:00, no holidays

www.ishii-world.jp/brand/motsu/nihonsaisei/shinjuku3/ (Japanese)