(Ikebukuro - Izakaya). 5957-2207
The funky basement space and sixties-jazz soundtrack give this cozy little izakaya the relaxed atmosphere of a neighborhood drinking spot. The food menu offers good, solid fare - down-to-earth rather than fancy, and especially strong in daily fish specials, seasonal vegetables and grilled pork dishes. The main reason to come here, though, is the impressive sake list - several dozen labels from small regional breweries, often including multiple varieties from the same brewery. The funky basement space and sixties-jazz soundtrack give this cozy little izakaya the relaxed atmosphere of a neighborhood drinking spot. The food menu offers good, solid fare - down-to-earth rather than fancy, and especially strong in daily fish specials, seasonal vegetables and grilled pork dishes.
The main reason to come here, though, is the impressive sake list - several dozen labels from small regional breweries, often including multiple varieties from the same brewery. Sake is served either in 1-go tokkuri or by the 100ml glass, so you can put together your own tasting flights and sample a good assortment of brews over the course of an evening.
In addition to the regular sake menu there's a page of seasonal, limited-edition specials, a small but respectable shochu list, and an intriguing display of colorful fruit liqueurs in glass jars. At lunchtime Zaian draws in the crowds with their famous spicy udon noodle dish, Shisen Tantanmen, which has been featured in numerous magazines. Budget around Y4000-5000 in the evening for ample food and drink; cash only. [Show more] [Show less]
(Takadanobaba - Izakaya). 3362-1198
Manaita is a small, friendly neighborhood izakaya with a very good sake selection. The decor is totally unpretentious, with seating at a slightly cramped counter that's occupied by local customers who seem to all know each other. The wide-ranging menu is hand-written (and can be rather difficult to decipher), offering everything from grilled meats and fish to inexpensive rice dishes and teishoku fare. Manaita is a small, friendly neighborhood izakaya with a very good sake selection. The decor is totally unpretentious, with seating at a slightly cramped counter that's occupied by local customers who seem to all know each other. The wide-ranging menu is hand-written (and can be rather difficult to decipher), offering everything from grilled meats and fish to inexpensive rice dishes and teishoku fare.
Some highlights from a recent visit included grilled anago eel, yakitori made with jidori chicken, and nama-fu (Kyoto-style wheat gluten cakes) grilled with miso dengaku-style.
We also had a vegetable tempura that was a bit oilier than we would have hoped, but the huge warm-vegetable platter, with at least ten different seasonal vegetables, was a winner. From the menu description we had expected a bagna cauda-style anchovy sauce, but what we got were several whole anchovies scattered among the vegetables - a pleasant surprise.
We ordered our first tokkuri of sake from the menu but after that the owner took the lead, suggesting sakes that would pair well with our food (including a sturdy nigori that stood up well to the anchovies). Budget around Y6000 for a very filling meal with ample sake and a few beers. [Show more] [Show less]
Takadanobaba 3-33-3. Open 6pm-midnight. Closed Sundays.
(Nishi-Shinjuku - Izakaya). 3348-9658
The "kikizake set," or sake tasting flight, is a great invention - instead of just one kind of sake you get to try three different varieties at the same time, comparing flavors and aromas as you sip your way through smaller-sized glasses. Some izakaya offer basic starter-level flights aimed at sake neophytes (e.g. sweet vs. dry vs. cloudy), but Yoshimoto takes it to another level entirely, with more than a dozen tasting flights designed to appeal to sake aficionados. It's an excellent opportunity to explore a lot of different brews in one evening without falling over, especially if you come with a group and share. The "kikizake set," or sake tasting flight, is a great invention - instead of just one kind of sake you get to try three different varieties at the same time, comparing flavors and aromas as you sip your way through smaller-sized glasses. Some izakaya offer basic starter-level flights aimed at sake neophytes (e.g. sweet vs. dry vs. cloudy), but Yoshimoto takes it to another level entirely, with more than a dozen tasting flights designed to appeal to sake aficionados. It's an excellent opportunity to explore a lot of different brews in one evening without falling over, especially if you come with a group and share.
The kikizake sets here are organized according to themes - three sake from the same prefecture, or from the same brewery, or made with the same rice. There are usually a few special seasonal selections as well, and most flights are priced from Y880-1100. Although it may be tempting to try them all, the regular sake selection - some seventy labels - is also worth checking out, particularly the limited-edition seasonal specials.
The food menu is fairly straightforward izakaya fare, and takes a back seat to the drinks. Our summer vegetable tempura was the highlight of a recent visit, and the sashimi platter and satsuma-age fritters were also decent. Adventurous diners might want to try some of Yoshimoto's "chinmi," unusual delicacies such as fermented fish guts and bee larvae which you can order in sets of three tiny but pungent dishes.
The restaurant is divided into a convivial counter area and a plainly decorated tatami room with horikotatsu, which unfortunately can get smoky at times. Budget around Y5000-7000 for ample food and drink. [Show more] [Show less]
Nishi-Shinjuku 1-13-3, Nishi-Shin Bldg 3F. Open 5-10:30pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
(Omotesando - Izakaya). 3408-2818
This stylish little izakaya offers excellent food, a good sake selection, and an entire menu page devoted to different varieties of salt - 12 of them in all. Charcoal-grilled seafood and vegetables are among the food highlights. Budget around Y2500 without drinks. [Go to branch review]
This small, mostly counter-bar shop serves creative cuisine and an interesting sake selection, with an emphasis on the dry, karakuchi end of the scale. (This is the new incarnation of Sakanatei, a long-running sake izakaya that was located near Tokyu Honten.)
Shinsen 12-4. Open 4pm-midnight. Closed Sundays.
Concealed beneath a stairway in a nondescript building behind the Shibuya Mark City, this tiny izakaya, specializing in robata-grilled fish, meat, and vegetables, is worth seeking out. They carry up to 100 varieties of sake and several choices of shochu. The sake menu changes daily, so consult the staff for recommendations. The staff is young and enthusiastic, the vibe hip but ultra-relaxed.
Dogenzaka 1-11-1, Dai-ni Daiban Bldg 104. Open 5pm-12:30am (LO) daily.
(Ebisu - Izakaya). 3445-8418
If it weren't for the illuminated sign advertising "Fish and Sake" in English, you might have trouble finding this second-story hideaway in Ebisu. The interior is modestly appointed with a few small tables around a long wooden counter. This understated approach to decor reflects the bar's no-frills philosophy. They specialize in two things: fresh fish and sake. If it weren't for the illuminated sign advertising, "Fish and Sake" in English, you might have trouble finding this second-story hideaway in Ebisu. The interior is modestly appointed with a few small tables around a long wooden counter. This understated approach to decor reflects the bar's no-frills philosophy. They specialize in two things: fresh fish and sake.
The fish comes directly from Tsukiji every day. Seasonal specials change frequently, but standards like the fuwa-fuwa satsuma age (Y650), fried fish cakes, and the namero (Y950) - raw fish minced with herbs - are available all year round and come highly recommended. The fluffy and delicate satsuma age release a tiny puff of air as you bite into them. The namero offers a contrast of intense flavors - bright versus briny - in each mouthful.
The sake menu (in Japanese and English) features over fifty varieties and changes with the seasons. Along with big names like Kudoki Jozu and Hiroki are lesser-known producers like Shinkame, and even smaller producers like Mutsuhassen. The friendly but unobtrusive staff can help you make you make a selection. Sake is available in two sizes, 120ml (Y500-) and 180ml (Y750-). If, for some reason, you decide not to have sake, the bar also serves shochu and awamori (about twelve varieties). [Show more] [Show less]
Ebisu 1-22-10, Kamasuya 2F. Open 6pm-1am (LO) daily.
Seasonal Japanese cuisine plus a special menu of limited-edition sake and wines. Full-course menus are Y6000-8000, or you can order a la carte.
Ebisu 4-9-15. Open 11:30am-1:30, 6-10pm. Closed Sundays.
The impressive sake list includes a number of small-kura limited-edition seasonal sakes; there's also plenty of shochu. The food is also top-notch, with unusual specalties like satsuma-age (Kyushu-style fish cakes, here available in eight different variations). [See FULL REVIEW
(Ebisu - Spanish). 3712-7277
It's an inspired idea - matching the distinctive flavors of Spanish tapas with bold, assertive styles of craft sake. The tapas dishes here are perhaps a bit more refined than average, ranging from hams and other charcuterie to Galician-style octopus and nicely pickled herring. The sake tends toward the fresh, lively flavors of unpasteurized and unfiltered brews, many of them from lesser-known small breweries. Budget around Y7000 for food and drink; prix-fixe menus are priced Y3500-8000.
Meguro-ku, Mita 2-9-5. Open 6:30-11pm. Closed Mondays.
(Hiroo - Izakaya). 5421-0570
Ibiza calls itself a "fisherman's diner," and this unpretentious neighborhood spot offers a great selection of fresh-caught fish and seafood. Simple home-style recipes rely on the high quality of the ingredients rather than showing off any dazzling cooking tricks. Ibiza calls itself a "fisherman's diner," and this unpretentious neighborhood spot offers a great selection of fresh-caught fish and seafood. Simple home-style recipes rely on the high quality of the ingredients rather than showing off any dazzling cooking tricks.
On a recent visit we enjoyed kisu (whiting) fritters flavored with ume and shiso; big portions of miso-simmered ginmutsu (bluefish); and first-rate grilled salmon belly. The hone-sembei (toasted mackerel bones) were crunchy and very tasty, and the cold chunks of cucumber in miso-meat sauce provided nice contrasts of flavor, texture and temperature.
If you're a fan of craft sake you'll probably find something to your liking on the extensive list; they also stock various Chinese liqueurs and ten kinds of umeshu. Budget around Y4000 with drinks. Note that the menus and service are in Japanese only, and the restaurant is quite busy, so bring a Japanese-speaking friend if you're not comfortable negotiating the menu. [Show more] [Show less]
Hiroo 5-16-16 2F. Open 6pm-midnight.
(Gotanda - Izakaya). 3280-0178
An amazing selection of sake and top-rate food in a cozy setting. The sake list changes with the season, and it helps if you know what you're looking for.
Higashi-Gotanda 1-18-3. (next to Gotanda Post Office, about 3 minutes from the station) Open 6-11pm. Closed Sundays.
This small but stylish bar specializes in koshu (vintage sake), and they offer several different tasting sets to guide your explorations. The Y1260 set features three different types of koshu, and changes weekly. There's also a set comparing three different mature koshu (Y1890), and a set comparing 5-, 10-, and 32-year-old vintages from the same brewery (Y3150). The food menu is very simple - assorted cheeses and smoked dishes. There's a Y450 cover charge; budget around Y4000.
(Akasaka - Japanese regional). 3585-3030
Kagura is run by the Fukumitsuya sake brewery in Kanazawa, and it showcases their line-up of premium sakes. The food menu focuses on Kaga-ryori - the regional cuisine of Kanazawa. Prix-fixe menus are Y8,400 and Y12,600 (+10%sc), or you can order a la carte.
Akasaka 5-5-9. Open 4-11pm. Closed Sundays.
(Shimbashi - Izakaya). 3593-0141
If you're a sake afficianado you'll be delighted by the stellar selection at this unpretentious little izakaya. Chances are you'll make some interesting discoveries, and perhaps even meet a brewer who's dropped in for a drink while visiting Tokyo. The sake list changes weekly, and features many limited-edition, seasonal bottles from small craft breweries - the kind of selections that are seldom sold in retail stores. If you're a sake afficianado you'll be delighted by the stellar selection at this unpretentious little izakaya. Chances are you'll make some interesting discoveries, and perhaps even meet a brewer who's dropped in for a drink while visiting Tokyo. The sake list changes weekly, and features many limited-edition, seasonal bottles from small craft breweries - the kind of selections that are seldom sold in retail stores.
Mr. Ishii's food menu is eclectic, focusing on simple dishes prepared from good ingredients. Everything seems to have been chosen to go well with any kind of sake, so you don't need to worry about pairing strategies here.
Our prix-fixe omakase menu during a recent visit started off with sayori (halfbeak) tempura served with its spine deep-fried until crunchy, followed by a practically greaseless Kyushu-style satsuma-age (deep-fried fishcakes). The sashimi platter wasn't quite so exciting, but the well-prepared dashimaki (grilled omelette) made up for it.
Then we moved on to the hardcore snacks - tofu marinated in miso, cream cheese marinated in sake lees, plus a trio of smoked items - baby squid, oysters and chicken - all well-suited to a relaxed evening of sake exploration.
The atmosphere at Ishii is quite casual - it's hidden in a tiny alleyway near Shimbashi station, and there are only sixteen seats, including six at the counter (so reservations are essential). The background music tends toward bouncy eighties pop. Budget around Y5000-8000 for dinner and drinks.
[Photos by Ake Nordgren.] [Show more] [Show less]
Shimbashi 2-15-10, Ishibashi Bldg 1F. Open 6-11pm (LO). Closed weekends.
Managed by the famous Kikuhime sake brewery in Ishikawa Prefecture, this izakaya showcases Kikuhime sake and shochu. You can try twenty-one types of Kikuhime sake, plus a few more seasonal specials, as well as four types of shochu. Prix-fixe dinners are Y6000, and there's a big a la carte menu of sashimi and other sake-drinking snacks.
Shimbashi 2-15-17. Open 5-10:30pm. Closed Sundays.
(Shimbashi - Bar). 3438-3375
Run by the Moto-Azabu liquor shop Kurihara, this is a larger branch of the original Kuri in Ginza, specializing in sake and shochu. Their list of posted rules includes a prohibition on strong perfumes and smoking. [Go to branch review]
Shinbashi 3-19-4, Sakurai Bldg 2F. Open 4-10pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
(Shimbashi - Japanese regional). 3574-7890
Charcoal-grilled fish and seafood from the Hokuriku region of northern Honshu are the specialty at this robata-style izakaya. They also stock more than 100 kinds of sake. The food is good, but the atmosphere can get hot, noisy and smoky depending on the size of the crowd. English-speaking staff and English menus are available. Easy-to-order prix-fixe menus start at Y4000, or budget around Y6000 for a la carte.
Higashi-Shimbashi 1-1-2, Asoruti Higashi Shinbashi 2F. Open 5-11pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
(Shimbashi - Izakaya). 3575-0939
Good food and an excellent selection of hard-to-find premium sakes make this hidden-away basement spot worth looking for. The ceiling is plastered with sake labels, and customers include serious sake connoisseurs as well as the usual after-work Shimbashi crowd.
Higashi-Shimbashi 1-2-17, B1F. Open 5:30-11:30pm. Closed weekends.
(Ginza - Japanese regional). 3563-8333
You'll find fresh hearth-grilled seafood and more than 100 kinds of sake from Japan's Hokuriku region at this country-style izakaya. English-speaking staff and English menus are available. Budget around Y5000 at dinnertime.
Ginza-Nishi 2-2, Inz #2, 2F. Open 11:30am-1, 5-10:20pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
The excellent sake list (some 130 labels are generally in stock) is supported by a reliable menu of standard izakaya fare - charcoal-grilled meats and fish, yakitori, and sake-friendly nibbles like satsuma-age. A sake sommelier is ready to offer advice, and will often suggest bottles not on the menu. Budget around Y4500 for dinner and drinks. Lunch starts at Y1100, and is served until 4pm.
Ginza 3-5-8. Open 11:30am-10:30pm (LO; Sun -9:30) daily.
Anago eel and warm sake are the specialties at this popular spot. Budget around Y6000-8000 for food and drink. No lunch on Saturdays.
(Ginza - Bar). 3573-8033
Sliding open the door of Kuri feels like unearthing a secret treasure. Hidden on the second floor of a drab building in Ginza, this cozy bar seats a scant twelve, yet boasts a menu featuring over 100 varieties of sake. The modern Japanese decor deftly employs noren curtains, dark wood, and soft lights to create an intimate and inviting space. Sake bottles are attractively displayed behind the bar on a tall shelf set into the wall. There's room for six at the bar, with a handful of small tables on the other side of a slatted-wood partition. [See FULL REVIEW
Ginza 6-4-15, Tony Bldg 2F. Open 5pm-2:30am (LO; 3am Fri, midnight Sat). Closed Sundays, 3rd Sat.
Among the ranks of craft-sake specialty pubs in Tokyo, Musshu (the name means "sake dream") stands out for its balance of cozy atmosphere, good food, and decent prices. The eclectic food menu is creative and very seasonal, featuring premium meats like jidori (heirloom-breed chicken) and Iberico pork and lots of small-farm vegetables. Among the ranks of craft-sake specialty pubs in Tokyo, Musshu (the name means "sake dream") stands out for its balance of cozy atmosphere, good food, and decent prices. The eclectic food menu is creative and very seasonal, featuring premium meats like jidori (heirloom-breed chicken) and Iberico pork and lots of small-farm vegetables.
The attractive basement space includes a cozy counter area with tables off to one side, plus a number of private dining rooms. The sake list offers some forty varieties from small kura around the country, plus an assortment of plum, peach and yuzu liqueurs. Budget around Y5000-6000 for dinner and drinks. [Show more] [Show less]
Ginza 6-7-6, La Paix Bldg B1F. Open 11:30am-2, 5:30-11:30pm (Fri -2am) daily.
Hearth-grilled seafood fresh from northern Honshu is the specialty at this attractive "slow-food" izakaya. Prix-fixe menus feature several types of grilled fish, sashimi and locally grown chicken and vegetables, and range from Y5500-12,000. The impressive sake cellar stocks some 500 varieties from 180 breweries in Niigata, Toyama, Ishikawa and Fukui. Seating is all in private rooms. Dinner averages around Y8000 for ample food and drink.
Ginza 8-8-8, Ginza 888 Bldg 7F. Open 5-11:30pm. Closed Sundays.
(Tsukiji - Izakaya). 3297-2080
From the former management of the legendary sake bar Kohju, this tiny shop offers a good selection of sake and a food menu tailored to go with it. Budget around Y4000 for dinner and drinks. (No lunch on Sundays.)
Irifune 3-1-5, SKM Ginza East Bldg. Open 11:30am-1, 5-10pm (LO). Closed Saturdays.
(Marunouchi - Japanese). 5288-1101
Premium regional sake (from the Morita brewery south of Nagoya) is the main draw here, along with a food menu featuring grilled chicken, fresh seafood and similar fare. Lunch averages around Y2000, dinner Y8000.
Marunouchi 1-6-4, Marunouchi Oazo 6F. Open 11am-2:30, 5-10:30pm (LO) daily.
There's no sake menu at this small counter-bar, so it can be a little intimidating for sake novices. If you know what you like though you can find some interesting limited-edition sakes here - just tell them what styles you prefer and they'll make suggestions from their constantly changing selection. There's also a small menu of sake-focused snacks. The bar is attached to a well-stocked sake retail shop. Located in the Gransta basement food/cafe zone inside Tokyo Station.
Marunouchi 1-9-1, JR Tokyo Station B1F Gransta. Open 7am-10pm daily.
(Yaesu - Izakaya). 3272-7707
This small, hole-in-the-wall shop in Tokyo Station's underground shopping complex boasts a surprisingly large selection of hard-to-find premium sake - 80 kinds in all - including multiple varieties from popular breweries like Kubota and Denshu. There's good sashimi as well as dishes like crab and horsemeat shabu-shabu. Budget around Y3500 at dinnertime.
Yaesu 2-1. (on "Orange Road" in the Yaesu underground shopping complex, near stairway 15) Open 11am-9:30pm (LO; 9pm weekends) daily.
(Yotsuya 3-chome - Izakaya). unlisted
Oysters and himono (grilled dried fish) are the specialty here, along with a huge selection of sake. The sake is served in small portions for Y300-400, so you can try a number of different types.
Yotsuya 3-11, Dai-ni Komyodo Bldg B1F. Open 5-9:30pm (LO; Sat 3-8pm). Closed Sundays.
The drinks list here focuses on sake from small breweries in Nagano Prefecture and around the country; many of them are rather obscure, but the staff will be happy to give you advice (in Japanese). Sharing is encouraged, so you can try several different types over the course of a meal and compare notes. The drinks list here focuses on sake from small breweries in Nagano Prefecture and around the country; many of them are rather obscure, but the staff will be happy to give you advice (in Japanese). Sharing is encouraged, so you can try several different types over the course of a meal and compare notes.
The food menu is tilted toward sake-friendly items, with six kinds of yaki-miso (we were especially taken by the grilled garlic miso) and various other delicacies. There's also a handful of grilled fish and sashimi items - the tasty grilled ray was sweeter and more tender than average, although it still had a pleasant crunch.
Seating is at small horikotatsu or at the small counter; there's also one window booth, where smoking is allowed. The elevator opens onto Tokyo's tiniest genkan, where you're meant to take off your shoes, so large groups might take awhile to enter and exit. Budget around Y2500-3500 for a few rounds of sake and snacks, more for a full evening. [Show more] [Show less]
Yotsuya 3-9-11, Yotsuya Shinko Bldg 7F. Open 5:30pm-midnight. Closed Sundays.
(Yotsuya 3-chome - Izakaya). 3355-2977
The sign outside this old-school sake pub entices with the promise of jizake - local sake - and makes good on that offer. On Friday nights, the crowd consists mainly of beer-drinking salarymen, but Asama is a great place for those who love sake. The sign outside this old-school sake pub entices with the promise of jizake - local sake - and makes good on that offer. On Friday nights, the crowd consists mainly of beer-drinking salarymen, but Asama is a great place for those who love sake.
A good starting point for novices is the Y500 sake list, which features a selection of brews from producers such as Kudoki Jozu and Kariho. More seasoned drinkers will find several varieties of limited-edition sake and premium brands like Juyondai and Azuma-ichi. If you need help navigating the three-page sake menu, proprietor Tomohisa Hatakeyama will make recommendations for you based on your preferences.
The food menu features tasty izakaya standards such as grilled tebasaki chicken wings and crispy vegetable tempura, all prepared in the impossibly tiny kitchen at the back. [Show more] [Show less]
Yotsuya 3-7. Open 5-11pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
Nearly thirty well-chosen craft sake from relatively obscure small breweries are on offer at this cozy neighborhood drinking spot. There are also sake-friendly nibbles like grilled dried fish and cured meats - the smoked cheese, fish and meat platter is especialy recommended. Budget around Y3000 for food and drink.
Arakicho 9-22, 2F. Open 6pm-midnight (LO). Closed Sundays.
Regional dishes from Aomori Prefecture are the draw here, including pork shabu-shabu, grilled chicken and seasonal vegetables. You can also try some local craft sake - some twenty types served either in ichi-go flasks or small 60cc tasting sizes if you want to try a bigger variety. Budget around Y4000 at dinnertime, Y1000 for lunch.
Arakicho 11-24, Arakicho AC Bldg 1F. Open 11:30am-1, 5:30-11pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
(Kagurazaka - Izakaya). 3269-4320
Unlike many sake-connoisseur pubs, the food here stands on its own, and would make Seigetsu worth a visit even if they only served tea. The charcoal-grilled chicken is especially outstanding, and the various Korean-influenced dishes are worth a try. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, with specially designated shochu consultants available should you need their services. The atmosphere is relaxed and cozy. [See FULL REVIEW
Kagurazaka 6-77-1. Open 5-11pm (LO) daily.
(Awajicho - Yakitori). 3296-0138
Jusanya is a small neighborhood yakitoriya with above-average chicken and an unusual sake selection. The sake list isn't huge, but it's deeper than usual, with two or three varieties of some small kura. There's also a separate shochu list. Jusanya is a small neighborhood yakitoriya with above-average chicken and an unusual sake selection.
The use of top-grade ingredients makes the difference here - even for simple items like the raw chunks of cucumber, carrots and cabbage served with miso paste, or the crisp fried lotus root stuffed with meat. We also appreciated little touches like the well-chilled edamame and other otoshi, and the carefully paced food service that gives one time to enjoy each round of chicken from the grill.
If you don't feel like ordering a la carte, the set menus offer a fairly good sampling of the dishes here, with menus priced at Y1500, Y2500 and Y3800. The Y2500 set is fairly substantial, and finishes off with sesame ice cream.
The sake list isn't huge, but it's deeper than usual, with two or three varieties of some small kura, and a handful of monthly specials on the whiteboard. There's a separate shochu list. The sake is all procured from Izumiya, the specialty shop across the street, so if you find something you like you can go back there and pick up a bottle to take home. [Show more] [Show less]
Kanda Ogawamachi 2-4. Open 11:30am-1:30, 5:30 to closing. Closed Sundays.
(Ueno - Oden). 3836-4906
Top-quality Kansai-style oden - not only does Ohdako have some of the most delicious oden in Tokyo, they have the good sense to serve with it some of the finest sakes available. [See FULL REVIEW
Ueno 2-3-1. Open 5:30-11pm daily.
Tokyo has no shortage of good yakitori shops, but Souten really stands out from the the crowd thanks to the quality of both their chicken and their craft sake. The entrance sports an extra-large sugidama (cedar ball) - always a promise of good sake within - and the list here doesn't disappoint. Nor does the food - they serve only the finest free-range chicken and other birds in season, prepared by a master of the grill. [See FULL REVIEW
Minami-Otsuka 3-39-13. Open 5:30-11pm. Closed Mondays.
(Tsukishima - Izakaya). 3534-8483
A tiny, legendary sake pub with an unusual selection, including many rare koshu (aged sakes). There's also a big list of shochu made from sugar cane. Food highlights include the anago dishes and the thick, juicy satsuma-age fishcakes, which are brimming with bits of onions, carrots and water chestnuts. (No English spoken or English menu.)
Tsukishima 1-18-10. Open 5:30-10:30pm (LO). Closed Sundays, Mondays.
The extensive sake collection here includes a good range of Juyondai, including some rare bottles. The master is quite exacting in his recommendations, so be prepared to be quizzed about your tastes in sake; the reward will be an introduction to some unusual brews. The food is also top-notch, with good grilled fish and chicken. Budget around Y4,000-7,000.
Higashi-Nakano 4-2-25. Open 5pm-midnight. Closed Sundays.
The entryway is plastered with sake labels (usually a good sign), and the sake selection is from all over Japan, with well-chosen seasonal brews that change every month. The yakitori is outstanding, served with a nice bowl of home-made chicken broth to start your meal. A 9-skewer yakitori assortment is Y2000.
Koenji-Minami 4-6-1, Asahi Bldg. B1F. (walk 3 or 4 minutes south along the PAL shopping street from the station; it's just off that street on the left) Open 5-11:30pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
(Yoyogi-Uehara - Japanese). 5454-3715
Once known for their amazing sake selection, excellent food, and good prices, Sasagin still offers an amazing sake selection. There's some decent food too, but the menu is hit-and-miss, as is the service.
Uehara 1-32-15. Open 5-11pm (to 10:30pm Sat.) (LO). Closed Sundays.
In addition to the typical selection of sashimi, grilled fish and other izakaya fare, Tenmamichi also offers a nice variety of kushiage (deep-fried skewers of seafood, vegetables and meats) and oden (stewed fishcakes in broth). But the real lure here is the sake list, where you can find unusual brews from small craft brewers around the country, often from small batches that never make it to retail liquor shops. In addition to the typical selection of sashimi, grilled fish and other izakaya fare, Tenmamichi also offers a nice variety of kushiage (deep-fried skewers of seafood, vegetables and meats) and oden (stewed fishcakes in broth). But the real lure here is the sake list, where you can find unusual brews from small craft brewers around the country, often from small batches that never make it to retail liquor shops.
The large basement dining area is stylishly decorated, with a big counter, comfortable little nooks, and tatami seating for larger parties. Budget around Y3000-5000 for ample food and drink. [Show more] [Show less]
Kitazawa 2-20-2, City Hotel Lefa B1F. Open 6-11pm daily.
An astonishing selection of sake, with a full menu page of new, limited-edition arrivals every week. The food tends towards simple, country-style fare, and the atmosphere is very down-home - it's a mother-and-son operation, with mom in the kitchen and her son (the "ko" in Tsukushi-no-ko) out on the floor pouring sake and making recommendations.
Higashiyama 3-1-11. Open 5-11pm. Closed Sundays.
(Sangenjaya - Izakaya). 3410-9918
One of Tokyo's premier sake pubs, with around 100 varieties at any given time. You can order a sashimi platter ahead of time, when you make your reservation, to get a better selection of fish. No smoking at the counter.
Sangenjaya 2-15-3. Open 5:30-11:30pm (LO) daily.
Good sake lists
(Takadanobaba - Izakaya). 3362-8081
This cozy izakaya specializes in himono (grilled dried fish), with a big menu of different varieties from around Japan. There's also plenty of good regional sake. Budget around Y2-3000 per person.
(Takadanobaba - Izakaya). 3365-5875
A friendly izakaya offering a decent selection of reasonably priced craft sake to go with your food. The specialty of the house if Hakata-style motsu-nabe (organ-meat stew), but you'll also find tempting fried chicken wings, gyoza dumplings and spareribs. Budget around Y3000 for food and drink at dinnertime.
Takadanobaba 3-4-11, Babahatch Bldg 1F. Open 11:45am-2, 5pm-midnight. Closed Sundays.
Sake is the star at this friendly little izakaya, with a smallish menu of charcoal-grilled seafood, meat and vegetables designed to go well with your drinks. Budget around Y6000 in the evening for food and drink.
Shinjuku 2-8-17, SY Bldg 1F. Open 5:30-11pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
Excellent grilled chicken, sushi and much more in this glitzy, high-rise branch of the popular Shinjuku yakitori restaurant. There's a good selection of premium sake to go with your food; dinner with drinks averages around Y6000. [Go to branch review]
Superlative izakaya-style fare in a lively, noisy setting. They have an impressive and ever-changing selection of jizake (regional sake), plus good sashimi and grilled fish. Intriguing original creations include maguro kimuchii yukke, made with raw tuna and raw egg and flavored with kimchee and sesame oil. No English spoken.
(Shinjuku - Yakitori). 3341-2468
Shousuke is a spacious, two-story affair - downstairs there's a big sushi counter, and upstairs are several semi-private booths for two, four or more, separated by bamboo blinds for privacy. The decor is tasteful Japanese modern, with polished wood surfaces and subdued lighting. Given the very pretty setting and the modest menu prices, we were quite unprepared for the quality of the food, which is simply spectacular. [See FULL REVIEW
(Shinjuku - Izakaya). 3226-0919
This basement branch of the Donjaca chain offers a wide menu of izakaya-style fare and Japanese sake. The Japanese dishes are much better than their multi-cultural experiments.
Inexpensive jizake (regional sake) and good grilled fish. Seating can get a little cramped during peak hours, so check out the much larger Suehiro-dori branch just around the corner. No English spoken.
(Shinjuku - Bar). 6457-3288
Nihonshu Stand Moto is a very informal bar that specializes in nihonshu, in this case quite a good selection of it at fairly reasonable prices. The food menu is fairly simple - small sake-friendly dishes like smoked mackerel and fried oysters. Open from noon on weekends. (Note that there's a small Y300 table charge.)
Shinjuku 5-17-11, Hakuho Bldg B1F. Open 3-11:30pm daily.
(Nishi-Shinjuku - Izakaya). 3369-8088
One of the few late-night spots on the west side of Shinjuku station, this budget izakaya offers a good selection of sake and a wide range of food, including many varieties of grilled himono (dried fish). Lunch is served until 4pm.
Who can resist a restaurant called "Mom's", especially when the kitchen and waitress staff is a squadron of fifty-ish, motherly types who look like they'd be disappointed in you for not finishing your vegetables. But the main draw here is the sake -- they promise a "journey through Japan by sake", and they stock close to 100 brands, from every part of the country, with most varieties running Y500-Y800 per glass. There's also a respectable menu of izakaya-style food, with grilled chicken wings, duck steak, and plenty of seasonal items. No English.
Nishi-Shinjuku 1-11-11, B1F. (on the side street directly behind Yodobashi Camera honten) Open 11am-3, 4-11:20pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
Imaginative pub-style Japanese food and regional sake at great prices.
(Nishi-Shinjuku - Izakaya). 3342-5671
Gorgeous modern stone/wood/tatami/glass dining rooms (designed by Yanagiya Manabu), floor-to-ceiling windows, and a world-class view. The original Japanese menu is complemented by the very good sake list. An excellent place to entertain and impress jaded out-of-towners, and also very good value for money; budget around Y4000-6000 for dinner. [See FULL REVIEW
(Nishi-Shinjuku - Izakaya). 3342-3105
Unlike some skyscraper restaurants, this place has the energy and atmosphere of a down-to-earth izakaya. The food menu is impressively diverse, including soba noodles, kushiyaki (both yakitori and other meats on skewers), homemade tofu, "Kyoto-style oden," and lots of good seasonal specials. There are over a dozen different sakes to try; other drinks include awamori cocktails, shochu, beer and wine.
Nishi-Shinjuku 2-4-1, Shinjuku NS Bldg. 29F. Open 11:30am-2, 4:30-11pm daily.
(Harajuku - Bar). 6447-2457
An experimental venture from the trendy folks who run the Aoyama Farmers Market, this cafe-bar complex has several distinct zones - two separate bars, lots of outdoor seating in the yard, a tiny treehouse-style space up front, and a second-floor library and small exhibition room where cigars and pipes are on display. An experimental venture from the trendy folks who run the Aoyama Farmers Market, this cafe-bar complex has several distinct zones - two separate bars, lots of outdoor seating in the yard, a tiny treehouse-style space up front, and a second-floor library and small exhibition room where cigars and pipes are on display.
The food menu features artfully constructed small izakaya-style dishes and snacks to nibble on, plus curry rice and original onigiri rice balls. In addition to the usual cocktails and beer, six types of Kikusui sake from Niigata are on offer, including the sweet, richly flavored Setsugoro Genrokushu, which is made from a 300-year-old recipe. [Show more] [Show less]
A very well-stocked sake shop, plus a small stand-up bar where you can try samples in small 50ml tasting sizes. Usually there are around ten sakes open for tasting, priced Y200-400. There's also a small snack menu - prosciutto, cheese, dried mentaiko. The retail side of the shop stocks over 100 premium brands of sake, and unlike many shops that seem to specialize in those humongous isshobin bottles that won't fit in your fridge, most of the sake here is in convenient 720ml bottles or in tiny single-serving mini-bottles.
(Harajuku - Izakaya). 6427-3335
Harajuku doesn't offer a lot of options in the izakaya category, so we were happy to discover this stylish spot in the architecturally ambitious b6 shopping mall. The dining room is buzzing, service is friendly and efficient, and the food and sake are consistently good. [See FULL REVIEW
Inexpensive sashimi and other fish dishes, offering good quality for the price. There's an assortment of premium sake brands as well as shochu to drink. (Formerly called Higashi-no-17.) Cash only.
Jingumae 2-19-16. Open 4-10:30pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
(Sendagaya - Japanese regional). 5775-7139
Toyama and other Tohoku specialties, including wappa dishes, Himi udon and regional sakes. Lunch from Y750, dinner from Y2800. Kaiseki dinner from Y5000.
Sendagaya 1-31-11, Eclair Sendagaya 2F. Open 11:30am-2, 4:30-11pm. Closed Sundays.
(Shibuya - Izakaya). 3496-2087
Unosato was a pioneering sake specialty pub that's been here for decades, although nowadays their list looks fairly dated - decent-enough regional brands that you'll find at a hundred other izakaya, supplemented by a page of one-cup selections. Their snacks are still above average though - excellent grilled fish and meats and first-rate seasonal vegetables. The traditional dining space is also very attractive - an island of calm in busy Shibuya. Budget around Y4000-5000 for dinner with a few drinks.
Udagawacho 36-11. Open 5-10:30pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
Gyossantei is a great place to sample the regional cooking of Miyazaki Prefecture, along with good sake from around the country. The dining space is comfortable and informal, and large windows on one side give it a spacious, open feel. [See FULL REVIEW
Dogenzaka 2-23-12, Shibuya Fhontis Bldg 2F-A. Open 11:30am-1:30, 5:50-11pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
Good-value grilled fish, snacks and sake in this lively late-night drinking spot. The specialty is himono (grilled dried fish) from around Japan. Budget around Y2000-3000 per person. There's often a two-hour time limit at tables.
(Shibuya - Izakaya). 5728-2085
This is the original gourmet stand bar that started the trend - they serve premium sake in attractive one-cup containers along with a huge menu of well-prepared food, all at reasonable prices. There's a sit-down restaurant down in the basement if you start to get wobbly. [Go to branch review]
Occupying the second floor of a newish office building, Nakamura is a very tastefully appointed modern izakaya, with sophisticated lighting and sleek furnishings. A full crew of chefs work in the open kitchen area behind the massive central counter, which is the most entertaining place to sit. There's also a big shared table off to one side and several private dining rooms. The food is the sort of original seasonal cuisine that's popular in upscale dining bars, and there's a good sake list to match. Occupying the second floor of a newish office building, Nakamura is a very tastefully appointed modern izakaya, with sophisticated lighting and sleek furnishings. A full crew of chefs work in the open kitchen area behind the massive central counter, which is the most entertaining place to sit. There's also a big shared table off to one side and several private dining rooms. The food is the sort of original seasonal cuisine that's popular in upscale dining bars, and there's a good sake list to match.
The attention to visual appearances extends from the decor to the food - everything coming out of the kitchen is artfully arranged and appetizingly presented. The emphasis is on premium, seasonal ingredients prepared with clever original flourishes. Our nicely peppery grilled chicken was served with a giant ume plum; the seasonal grilled vegetables came with a captivating side dish of chunky miso and ground meat; and the seafood salad featured a whole cold baked onion at its heart.
The two dozen or so sake selections are also quite good, balanced between familiar names and lesser-known breweries. Unfortunately the service, while not bad, wasn't quite up to the same standards as the food and decor. Reservations are essential, and the staff will call on the day of the booking to confirm. Budget around Y6000 for ample food and drink at dinnertime - all in all excellent value for money. [Show more] [Show less]
The wide menu here covers a lot of ground, but particularly notable are the top-quality meat dishes featuring Hokkaido lamb, game birds and gourmet pork. The cozy dining room has mostly counter seating, with two small hori-kotatsu tables. Budget around Y4000.
(Nishi-Azabu - Oden). 5464-3740
Although it's best known in its convenience-store and yatai manifestations, oden can be a cuisine of great subtlety and refinement, and Konbuya in Nishi-Azabu is an excellent place to investigate the mysteries of gourmet oden preparation. There's also a very nice selection of sake and shochu to go with it. [See FULL REVIEW
A relaxed late-night izakaya with good food and drink. One of the specialties is himono, various types of dried fish that are served grilled. Budget around Y2000-3000 for food and drink.
Akita Prefecture is famous for its excellent sake, but its regional cuisine isn't as widely known. Wattaribozu, a cozy little basement izakaya near Gotanda Station, is a great place to explore both food and drink from the region. Some highlights include fish and seafood flown in fresh from the Sea of Japan coast, chicken dishes made with Hina-dori, an heirloom breed that originated in Akita, and wintertime stews like kiritampo nabe, made with grilled pounded rice on skewers. Akita Prefecture is famous for its excellent sake, but its regional cuisine isn't as widely known. Wattaribozu, a cozy little basement izakaya near Gotanda Station, is a great place to explore both food and drink from the region. Some highlights include fish and seafood flown in fresh from the Sea of Japan coast, chicken dishes made with Hina-dori, an heirloom breed that originated in Akita, and wintertime stews like kiritampo nabe, made with grilled pounded rice on skewers.
As you might expect, the drinks list here focuses heavily on Akita sake, with a number of labels from small craft breweries that are otherwise hard to find in Tokyo. Thirteen sake by the glass are listed, most in the Y580-850 range. You can also order by the flask for the table, and after our first couple of rounds we turned to the staff for recommendations, and were rewarded with some very fresh, limited-edition seasonal bottles that weren't even on the menu. If you're adventurous you might also want to check out the umeshu (plum wine) selection. There are at least twenty varieties, including unusual flavors like banana and yuzu, both of which were surprisingly good
One main section of the food menu is devoted to Hinai-dori, a native-Japanese breed of chicken with striking red-and-black plumage. It's represented here in the form of charcoal-grilled yakitori skewers, deep-fried chicken, excellent savory egg custard, and oyako-donburi, the classic meal of chicken and egg over rice. You'll also find some excellent grilled pork dishes, including tasty, thick bacon slabs and fantastic grilled pork belly with toasted garlic chips. Unexpectedly, Wattaribozu also serves some of the best basashi (horse sashimi) we've ever come across Tokyo.
Akita is largely mountainous and much of its vegetable consumption is in the form of pickles. The oshinko moriawase (assorted pickle platter) here is a good introduction, with several varieties we had never seen or heard of before. Among our favorites was the iburi-gakko (smoked pickled daikon and carrots), which went quite well with the local sake. We also had some interesting and unusual mountain-vegetable dishes, very good bamboo shoots, and outstanding grilled shiitake mushrooms.
One challenge here is simply understanding the menu - many dishes had unfamiliar names, and despite extensive consultations with the waitstaff we were still in for a few surprises. Pretty much everything we tried was quite good though; even a rather plebian dish like yakisoba was beautifully prepared, with special Akita-style noodles and other top-grade ingredients.
Budget around Y3500 at dinnertime for food and drink; all-you-can-drink plans are also available for parties. No lunch on weekends; open until 3am on Friday nights. [Show more] [Show less]
Nishi-Gotanda 1-7-1, Libio Gotanda Pragma G Tower B1F. Open 11:30am-2, 5pm-1am daily.
(Hamamatsucho - Izakaya). 6802-3370
With its corrugated metal facade, utilitarian stools, colorful banners and noisily shouted greetings, Kaba strives for a down-home feel and is probably the most boisterous spot in the Hamasite Gourmet complex. The mainstay on the menu is seafood flown in fresh daily from the San-in region of Western Honshu - some thirty or forty varieties, both raw and grilled. There are also dozens of sake from Shimane and Tottori, and a comprehensive English menu covering both food and drink (all but the daily specials). Budget around Y4000 with drinks.
Kaigan 1-2-20, Shiodome Building 2F. Open 11am-11:30pm daily.
Hidden away in the back of this well-appointed shop is a six-seat bar area where you can drop in for a quick glass of sake. The shop is run by the Fukumitsuya Brewery in Kanagawa, and besides selling the brewery's full range of sake they also offer beautifully crafted sake cups and flasks and assorted tableware.
Akasaka 9-7-4, Tokyo Midtown Galleria B1F. Open 11am-9pm daily.
(Akasaka - Yakitori). 5549-4718
Very good yakitori and game-bird cuisine along with a respectable sake list. Budget around Y7000 for dinner, Y1000 for lunch.
Akasaka 3-12-10, Akasaka Sun Bldg B1F. Open 11:30am-1:30, 5:30-11:30pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
Takewaka offers good traditional Japanese food in small dishes at reasonable prices. Smaller sake serving sizes are also available - 120 ml instead of 180 ml - with correspondingly lower prices, allowing you to try more varieties while putting less strain on your wallet and your sobriety. The well-chosen selection numbers about thirty, most of them standouts. Budget around 4,000 yen per person.
Akasaka 3-13-12. Open 11:30am-2, 5-11pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
A stylish izakaya-slash-dining bar serving modern Tokyo cuisine - a mix of Italian, Spanish and Japanese regional dishes made from premium ingredients. There's an excellent sake list that rotates regularly. Budget around Y5000 at dinnertime.
Kasumigaseki 3-2-6, Tokyo Club Bldg, Kasumi Dining 1F. Open 11am-2, 5-10:30pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
Although the atmosphere at this sake-industry information center is rather utilitarian, they do offer sake tastings during the day (Y300 per tasting) along with occasional special events. And of course there's an enormous amount of reading material, although it's almost entirely in Japanese.
Nishi-Shimbashi 1-1-21. Open 10am-6pm. Closed weekends.
People don't come to Shinshu Osake Mura for the atmosphere, or the music (there isn't any). There aren't even any chairs. The reason to visit this hole-in-the-wall, standing-only sake bar, located on the ground floor of one of Shimbashi's most ancient office buildings, is the great sake list. People don't come to Shinshu Osake Mura for the atmosphere, or the music (there isn't any). There aren't even any chairs. The reason to visit this hole-in-the-wall, standing-only sake bar, located on the ground floor of one of Shimbashi's most ancient office buildings, is the great sake list.
Thirty or forty varieties are poured at any given time, including plenty of seasonal, limited-edition specials. Most are priced at either Y300 or Y500 for a decent 110ml pour - a major Tokyo sake bargain. It helps a lot if you can converse with the enthusiastic bartender in Japanese - he's eager to offer suggestions based on your tastes, and he hasn't steered us wrong.
Sake-friendly snacks - heavily tilted towards the salty end of the flavor spectrum (smoked tofu, spicy beef tongue), are Y300 each. If you want a break from nihonshu, the bar also serves several Japanese microbrews in bottles and cans, starting at around Y240. [Show more] [Show less]
Shimbashi 2-20-15, Shimbashi Ekimae Bldg #1 1F. Open 11am-9:30pm (LO). Closed weekends.
(Shiodome - Japanese). 6274-5231
Definitely the fanciest spot in the Pedi restaurant complex, this lively dining bar is decorated with illuminated orange fiberglass bamboo trunks and shochu bottles mounted in museum-like display cases. The menu features lots of daily sashimi specials, charcoal-grilled fish and chicken, and original dishes, along with a serviceable selection of craft sake. Budget around Y4000.
(Marunouchi - Japanese). 5223-9888
A joint venture between Mushu sake pub and several sake companies, Takara serves both Japanese food and Spanish tapas, plus sake, awamori, shochu, excellent Japanese microbrew beer (Baird's), and Spanish wines. [See FULL REVIEW
Marunouchi 3-5-1, Tokyo International Forum B1F. Open 11:30am-11pm daily.
You might not expect to find a bustling late-night drinking scene on the seventh floor of an office building, but Soba Kichi is just one small part of the very lively "Home" restaurant complex in the Shin-Maru Biru across from Tokyo Station. Budget prices are a big part of the appeal - you can enjoy a couple of drinks and snacks here for under Y2000. You might not expect to find a late-night drinking scene on the seventh floor of an office building, but we discovered a lively one in the "Home" restaurant complex in Marunouchi's Shin-Maru Biru. Soba Kichi occupies a small corner of Home, and they keep going until 4am every night but Sunday, packing in the crowds at least until the last train. Budget prices are a big part of the appeal - you can enjoy a couple of drinks and snacks here for under Y2000.
The setting is stylish, with the warm lighting and blond wood tones of the sleek central counter contrasting with the coolly lit terrace garden and the Marunouchi night sky just beyond the windows. The sake list (Y500-700 per glass) is very drinkable and tailored to match the food. You can also choose from beer, many different shochus, or several budget-level wines by the glass.
Fried foods dominate the menu, with deep-fried skewers of fish, vegetables and meats starting at just Y150 per skewer. If you want something heartier, there's a big pot of beef tendon stew bubbling away on the counter, served with garlic toast or by itself. Other snacks include grilled pork belly and kibinago (silver-stripe herring), and pork and chicken cutlets. As you might guess from the name, they offer several hot and cold soba dishes (Y650-1300). The specialty of the house is tempura-fried chicken served over a bowl of soba in a curry-flavored broth. [Show more] [Show less]
(Kiyosumi-Shirakawa - Yakitori). 5620-1810
Great yakitori, a few well-selected sakes, and reasonable prices at this neighborhood yakitoriya. No English menu.
Shirokawa 1-2-5. Open 5pm-midnight daily.
(Yotsuya 3-chome - Yakitori). 3356-8403
Memorable charcoal-grilled yakitori for Y4,000 to Y8,000 per person (with drinks). They've got an interesting sake list, including multiple variations from Kubota and other small brewers.
Funamachi 12. (on Gaien-Higashi-dori) Open 6pm-5am (Sat. to 11pm). Closed Sundays.
(Yotsuya 3-chome - Izakaya). 3359-8088
There's a good selection of sake to go with your grilled himono (dried fish) and other izakaya fare, all at quite reasonable prices. Lunch is served until 4pm.
Yotsuya 3-2-2, TR Bldg B1F. Open 11am-1am (LO; Sat, Sun -12) daily.
(Akebonobashi - Izakaya). 3359-8182
This friendly neighborhood drinking spot serves up creative izakaya fare prepared from fresh, very seasonal ingredients. In fact the staff will often bring out a platter showing off produce from the market and the catch of the day, to help you decide on your order. Some highlights here have included highly seasonal fare such as their excellent charcoal-grilled bamboo shoots and tempura-fried garlic shoots and mountain vegetables. This friendly neighborhood drinking spot serves up creative izakaya fare prepared from fresh, very seasonal ingredients. In fact the staff will often bring out a platter showing off produce from the market and the catch of the day, to help you decide on your order. Some highlights here have included highly seasonal fare such as their excellent charcoal-grilled bamboo shoots and tempura-fried garlic shoots and mountain vegetables.
Yuzen's tempura dishes are prepared with a light touch, and the chicken and other charcoal-grilled dishes are reliably good. You can also sample some two dozen craft sakes from around the country, although unfortunately the sake servings are on the small side. Budget around Y3500 for dinner and drinks. [Show more] [Show less]
Arakicho 16, Berwood Bldg 1F. Open 11:30am-2, 5-11pm. Closed Sundays.
(Akebonobashi - Izakaya). 3357-6407
A quiet, extremely unpretentious neighborhood drinking spot, Kurachan sports a classic old-school izakaya decor and serves an interesting selection of craft sake along with excellent grilled chicken. We've found it most advantageous to discuss our sake preferences with the staff and follow their suggestions, although there is chalkboard menu listing their regular offerings (all in Japanese). Some food highlights include their unusual natto karaage and some excellent ume-shiso tebasaki. Budget around Y5000.
Sumiyoshicho 10-11. Open 6-10pm. Closed Sundays.
(Yotsuya - Izakaya). 3226-0551
Dozens of sake brands from around the country, along with mom's home cooking (assuming your mother runs an izakaya).
Yotsuya 1-3, B1F. (on Shinjuku-dori west of the Yotsuya station) Open 5-11:30pm. Closed Sundays.
Seafood and heirloom-breed chicken dishes from Yamaguchi Prefecture are the specialties of the house here, along with locally produced sake including several labels from the excellent Dassai brand. Budget around Y3200 at dinnertime.
Yotsuya 1-9, Miyake Bldg 2F. Open 11:30am-2, 5-11:15pm (LO) daily.
(Yotsuya - Liquor shop). 3351-1777
A well-stocked sake specialty store; don't miss the refrigerated rooms down in the basement. There's also a stand-up bar in back with around a dozen sake by the glass along with simple, inexpensive bar food (weeknights only).
Yotsuya 1-10. Open 9am-9pm. Closed Sundays.
(Awajicho - Izakaya). 3254-0080
Good sake and izakaya fare, including many varieties of grilled hinomo (dried fish) in an attractively rustic setting. Earlier hours on weekends.
(Awajicho - Izakaya). 3219-6118
Friendly service and an excellent assortment of sake from around the country.
Kanda Surugadai 3-1-1, 6F. (on Hongo-dori south of Nicola Cathedral) Open 5-10:30pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
(Ueno - Bar). 5826-5807
You'll find regional sake from small brewers around the country, served in convenient one-cup sizes at this popular stand-bar. Tasty snacks are in the Y400-600 range, including yakitori, homemade satsuma-age (fishcakes), and soy-milk gratin. Some outdoor seating. Open to 4:30am Fridays and Saturdays.
Ueno 7-1-1, Atre 1F. Open 11am-11pm (4:30am Fri, Sat) daily.
(Sugamo - Izakaya). 3945-1320
Great sake, from a list that changes every week, at this local, hole-in-the-wall drinking spot. You'll find bottles from small breweries that are seldom seen in retail shops, and the staff are ready with suggestions. The food menu is simple, and designed to support the sake.
Sugamo 1-18-1. Open 5:30pm-midnight (LO) daily.
Chef Trevor Blyth, a veteran of several top-tier restaurants in France and the UK, has opened an unusual restaurant in Oji (6 stops north of Iidabashi on the Namboku line). Aiming to provide high-end cuisine without the high prices, he's devised a modern tapas-style menu combining Mediterranean and Japanese ingredients and techniques, plus a selection of sake, wine and Champagne.
Kishimachi 1-1-11, Kouei Ekimae Bldg 2F. (at entrance to Otonashi-gawa park, 30 sec. from Oji Sta.) Open 11:30am-11:30pm (from 2:30 Sat). Closed Sunday.
An odd combination of Indian food (tandoori and curries) and standard izakaya fare (yakitori, etc.), which you can wash down with your choice of Indian beer or nicely chosen regional sakes.
Ariake 3-1-28, Ariake Park Bldg. 2F. Open 11am-10pm (LO). Closed Mondays.
(Kichijoji - Izakaya). 0422-46-2818
Seasonal izakaya fare and gourmet oden, plus very impressive lists of shochu and sake.
Kichijoji Minamicho 1-17-10, F&W Bldg. B1F. Open 5:30-11:30pm (LO) daily.
Located inside the Tokyu Foodshow food hall, this specialty liquor shop offers an excellent selection of craft sake as well as beautifully designed servingware. Individual small glasses and three-part tasting sets are offered at the sit-down counter.
Tamagawa 2-21-1, Futago-Tamagawa Rise Shopping Center B1F. Open 10am-9pm daily.
Excellent charcoal-grilled meats and vegetables are served here with Korean-style sauces and side dishes. The quality of the meats is first-rate, and there are lots of grilled and stewed organ meats. Drinks include flavored Korean makkoli (sweet, cloudy sake) plus sake and shochu. The spacious counter is warm and comfortable.
The specialties at this casual basement izakaya are craft sake and regional cuisine from Akita Prefecture, including Hinaijidori heirloom chicken dishes and hearty nabemono stews. The specialties at this casual basement izakaya are craft sake and regional cuisine from Akita Prefecture, including Hinaijidori heirloom chicken dishes and hearty nabemono stews.
Located one minute from Ryutsu Center station on the Tokyo Monorail, it's a nice place to stop for a snack and a drink after an afternoon of bird-watching at the nearby Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park, or on the way to or from Haneda Airport. (The main branch is located next to Gotanda station.) Budget around Y3500 at dinnertime, or Y800 for lunch. [Show more] [Show less]
Ota-ku, Heiwajima 6-1-1, Ryutsu Center, Tokyo, Annex Bldg B1F. Open 11am-1:30, 5-9pm (LO). Closed weekends.
(Omori - Izakaya). 5471-2626
Gingin specializes in seafood and offers a good selection of craft sake. Budget around Y4500 for food and drink at dinnertime.
Minami-Oi 6-25-3, Sasaki Bldg B1F. Open 5-11pm. Closed Sundays.
(Yokohama Sta. - Izakaya). 045-440-5768
This Yokohama branch of one of our favorite izakaya offers good soba, tofu and grilled chicken along with some nice regional sake choices. Counter and table seating is relatively spacious.
Kinkocho 1-10, Yokohama Bay Quarter 5F. Open 11am-10pm (LO) daily.