Tokyo Food Page
Takara/
Marunouchi: Japanese
₯5223-9888
€Data
This place must have
looked great on
paper when it was
being planned. Start
with a good assort-
ment of premium sake
(a couple dozen
nicely chosen brands
from around the
country), add some
trendy shochu and
awamori lists (with
very respectable
selections of each),
and a solid,
izakaya-style food
menu. And why not
throw in some popu-
lar Okinawan dishes
to go with the awa-
mori? Oh, and Span-
ish cuisine is popu-
lar this year - why
not add some tapas
and Spanish wine to
the mix? How could
anything go wrong?

Unfortunately, in
spite of its excel-
lent food and drink,
Takara doesn't quite
overcome its rather
sterile setting in
the basement of the
Kokusai Forum Build-
ing. It desperately
needs something.
Bamboo blinds? Big
plants? Beds of
shiny pebbles and
running water? Saw-
dust on the floor? A
lighting director?
Somehow the atmos-
phere is just a
little too quiet and
subdued, the service
a little too rote.

There's a pretty
red-lacquer counter,
but there's no
counterman behind it
slicing fish or
pouring sake, no
focus of attention -
it's just a long
table stranded in
the center of the
room. The regular
tables and chairs
look like they be-
long in an upscale
cafeteria, maybe on
a corporate campus.
The expensive sound
system in the corner
plays flamenco mu-
sic, and it makes
you wonder: why
flamenco music? For
that matter, why
tapas?

On the plus side,
Takara's food is
quite good, as is
the sake. There's an
English-language
sake menu that's
practically an edu-
cation in sake ap-
preciation, with
detailed tasting
notes on each varie-
ty (all of which are
reasonably priced).
In addition to all
the other drinks,
there's also an
excellent microbrew
beer fresh on tap -
a pale ale from the
Fishmarket Taproom
brewpub in Shizuoka
- perhaps the best
beer in this neigh-
borhood.

Takara also gives
you a rare chance to
mix and match cui-
sines. You can try
the Okinawan pork
stew with a full-
bodied sake instead
of a rough awamori.
Or try the tofu and
yuba dishes with
sparkling Spanish
Cava, or the Basque-
style pintxos with
microbrew beer. And
the location makes
it a convenient
place to meet for an
after-work or after-
concert drink and
snack. You may even
find yourself set-
tling in for a few
hours of food and
sake if the mood is
right. But you may
also find yourself
drawn away by the
gritty allure of the
far more down-to-
earth yakitori
joints just a few
blocks south, under
the rumbling tracks
of the Yamanote-sen.

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Chiyoda-ku, Maru-
nouchi 3-5-1, Tokyo
International Forum
B1F.  Open 11:
30am-11pm daily.
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