Notable sake lists

Sake specialists

Zaian (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. [Show more]
lateSunmapHigashi-Ikebukuro 1-31-1, Barack Court B1F. Open 11:30am-2, 5pm-midnight (LO). Closed Mondays.
!Manaita (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. [Show more]
mapTakadanobaba 3-33-3. Open 6pm-midnight. Closed Sundays.
Yoshimoto (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. [Show more]
mapNishi-Shinjuku 1-13-3, Nishi-Shin Bldg 3F. Open 5-10:30pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
!!Galali (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]
lateSunmapJingumae 3-6-5. Open 6pm-3am daily.
Sake to Sakana (Shibuya - Izakaya). 3496-1070
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.)
mapShinsen 12-4. Open 4pm-midnight. Closed Sundays.
Yodareya (Shibuya - Izakaya). 3463-6506
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.
SunmapDogenzaka 1-11-1, Dai-ni Daiban Bldg 104. Open 5pm-12:30am (LO) daily.
Ippo (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. [Show more]
SunmapEbisu 1-22-10, Kamasuya 2F. Open 6pm-1am (LO) daily.
Igarashi (Ebisu - Japanese). 3447-9893
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.
mapEbisu 4-9-15. Open 11:30am-1:30, 6-10pm. Closed Sundays.
Bakushuan (Ebisu - Beer bar). 3719-3949
If you like both craft beer and craft sake, this new (February 2014) branch of Otsuka's legendary Bakushuan beer bar is the place for you. Ten mainly Japanese craft beers are served on tap, and there's a fairly impressive sake list and delicate seasonal cuisine to accompany it.
no smokingSunmapEbisu-Minami 2-1-5, ES215 Bldg 7F. Open 4-11:30pm daily.
!Toki no Ma (Ebisu - Izakaya). 5722-8600
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.]
lateSunmapEbisu-Minami 2-3-14, Conze Ebisu 2F. Open 4:30pm-5am (to 10:30pm Sundays). Open every day.
Kiraz (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.
SunmapMeguro-ku, Mita 2-9-5. Open 6:30-11pm. Closed Mondays.
!Ibiza (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. [Show more]
mapHiroo 5-16-16 2F. Open 6pm-midnight.
!Waniya (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.
mapHigashi-Gotanda 1-18-3. (next to Gotanda Post Office, about 3 minutes from the station) Open 6-11pm. Closed Sundays.
Shusaron (Shinagawa - Bar). 5449-4455
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.
no smokingSunmapTakanawa 4-10-18, Wing Takanawa West 2F. Open 5-11:30pm (3-11:30pm Sat/Sun) daily.
Kagura (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.
mapAkasaka 5-5-9. Open 4-11pm. Closed Sundays.
Anpuku (Toranomon - Soba/Udon). 6257-3850
Novel, fusion-style udon is the specialty here, but what first attracted our attention was the inviting little sake bar standing at the front of the shop. A couple dozen well-chosen craft sakes from around the country are served in taster-size 60ml or 120ml portions, in your choice of standard sake cups or proper wine glasses (we recommend the latter). [Show more]
no smokingSunmapToranomon 1-26, Toranomon Hills 4F. Open 11am-2:30, 5-10:30pm (LO) daily.
Ishii (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. [Show more]
no smokingmapShimbashi 2-15-10, Ishibashi Bldg 1F. Open 6-11pm (LO). Closed weekends.
Shutei Kikuhime (Shimbashi - Izakaya). 3597-1515
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.
mapShimbashi 2-15-17. Open 5-10:30pm. Closed Sundays.
Kuri (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. For your tasting cnovenience, sake comes in small (60ml) glasses as an option. Their list of posted rules includes a prohibition on strong perfumes and smoking. [Go to branch review]
no smokingmapShinbashi 3-19-4, Sakurai Bldg 2F. Open 4-11:30pm (drink LO). Closed Sundays.
Hakobune (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.
mapHigashi-Shimbashi 1-1-2, Asoruti Higashi Shinbashi 2F. Open 5-11pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
Kohju (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.
mapHigashi-Shimbashi 1-2-17, B1F. Open 5:30-11:30pm. Closed weekends.
Sake no Ana (Ginza - Izakaya). 3567-1133
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.
SunmapGinza 3-5-8. Open 11:30am-10:30pm (LO; Sun -9:30) daily.
Hakarime (Ginza - Izakaya). 6253-7070
Anago eel and warm sake are the specialties at this popular spot. Budget around Y6000-8000 for food and drink. No lunch on Saturdays.
no smokingSunmapGinza 5-9-5, Cheers Ginza 6F. Open noon-2:30, 5:30-11:30pm daily.
Kuri (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.]
latemapGinza 6-4-15, Tony Bldg 2F. Open 5pm-2:30am (LO; 3am Fri, midnight Sat). Closed Sundays, 3rd Sat.
!Musshu Mizuki (Ginza - Izakaya). 5537-1888
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. [Show more]
SunmapGinza 6-7-6, La Paix Bldg B1F. Open 11:30am-2, 5:30-11:30pm (Fri -2am) daily.
!Hakobune (Ginza Chuo-dori) (Ginza - Japanese regional). 6280-6330
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.
mapGinza 8-8-8, Ginza 888 Bldg 7F. Open 5-11:30pm. Closed Sundays.
Nenohi (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.
SunmapMarunouchi 1-6-4, Marunouchi Oazo 6F. Open 11am-2:30, 5-10:30pm (LO) daily.
Hasegawa Saketen (Yaesu - Bar). 6420-3409
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.
SunmapMarunouchi 1-9-1, JR Tokyo Station B1F Gransta. Open 7am-10pm daily.
!Daruma (Yaesu - Izakaya). 3272-7707
A small, hole-in-the-wall shop in Tokyo Station's underground shopping complex, Daruma 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.
SunmapYaesu 2-1. (located near the north end of the underground passage labeled "Sotobori Chika 2nd Street") Open 11am-9:30pm (LO; 9pm weekends) daily.
Yamachan (Yotsuya 3-chome - Bar). 5315-4688
A very casual, all-you-can-drink premium sake bar, Yamachan combines the best aspects of an industry sake-tasting event (lots of varieties freely available, at a reasonable all-inclusive price) and a typical urban sake-tasting bar (a carefully chosen selection of bottles, and chairs where you can sit down). The bar's unique self-pour policy is perhaps the best feature - it means that you can try out little sips from lots of different bottles until you find something you love. [Show more]
mapYotsuya 3-11, Nomura Bldg 4F. Open 6-10:30pm. Closed Sundays.
!Higasa Amagasa (Yotsuya 3-chome - Izakaya). 3225-0267
Craft sake from small, often obscure, breweries in Nagano Prefecture and elsewhere is the focus at this popular sake specialty bar. Servings are in small-size glasses and sharing is encouraged, so you can try several different types over the course of a meal and compare notes. The staff will be happy to make recommendations (in Japanese), or you can order from the detailed list. [Show more]
mapYotsuya 3-9-11, Yotsuya Shinko Bldg 7F. Open 5:30pm-midnight. Closed Sundays.
Asama (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. [Show more]
mapYotsuya 3-7. Open 5-11pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
!All That Jazz (Yotsuya 3-chome - Izakaya). 5379-3663
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.
mapArakicho 9-22, 2F. Open 6pm-midnight (LO). Closed Sundays.
Ringo no Hana (Yotsuya 3-chome - Japanese regional). 6380-6724
Aomori Prefecture in Northern Japan produces some very nice sake, and Ringo no Hana is a good place to try it out. Some twenty different types of local craft sake are served either in ichi-go flasks or small 60cc tasting sizes if you want to explore a bigger variety. Adventurous drinkers may also be interested in their fruit- and herb-flavored liqueurs. [Show more]
mapArakicho 11-24, Arakicho AC Bldg 1F. Open 11:30am-1, 5:30-11pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
Katakura (Ichigaya - Izakaya). 3260-4504
This charming, traditionally appointed izakaya near Ichigaya station offers an enormous selection of craft sake, shochu, and Okinawan awamori. The sake list includes a dozen or so specials of the day (always a good sign), plus deep selections from a number of well-regarded breweries - for example there are twelve different labels from the excellent Fukui-ken brand Kokuryu. [Show more]
mapIchigaya-Tamachi 1-3, Katakura Bldg 1F. Open 5-11pm. Closed Sundays.
!Seigetsu (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.]
SunmapKagurazaka 6-77-1. Open 5-11pm (LO) daily.
!!Jusanya (Ogawamachi - 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. [Show more]
mapKanda Ogawamachi 2-4. Open 11:30am-1:30, 5:30 to closing. Closed Sundays.
Odako (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.]
SunmapUeno 2-3-1. Open 5:30-11pm daily.
Kushikoma (Otsuka - Izakaya). 3917-6657
The specialized sake selection at this small neighborhood izakaya is beyond reproach, while the food menu is notable for its sake-infused dishes such as ginjo-steamed chicken with apricots and wasabi as well as more standard pub fare. Budget around Y2500-4000 for food and drink.
SunmapKita-Otsuka 1-33-25. Open 6pm-midnight. Closed Mondays.
Bakushuan (Otsuka - Beer bar). 3915-4550
Although it looks like an old-fashioned izakaya inside, Bakushuan serves a modern selection of ten Japanese and US craft beers on tap in addition to its very respectable sake list. The food menu is well above average for a beer bar, featuring sake-friendly nibbles and oysters prepared in various ways.
no smokingSunmapKita-Otsuka 2-27-1, Yoshimatsu Bldg 2F. Open 6pm-1am. Closed Mondays.
!!Souten (Minami-guchi) (Otsuka - Yakitori). 5944-8105
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.]
SunmapMinami-Otsuka 3-39-13. Open 5:30-11pm. Closed Mondays.
!Ajisen (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. Budget around Y10,000 for food and drink. (No English spoken or English menu.)
mapTsukishima 1-18-10. Open 5:30-10:30pm (LO). Closed Sundays, Mondays.
Omasa-komasa (Higashi-Nakano - Izakaya). 3371-0019
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.
mapHigashi-Nakano 4-2-25. Open 5pm-midnight. Closed Sundays.
!!Kushibeh (Koenji - Yakitori). 3318-7756
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.
mapKoenji-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.
Sasagin (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.
mapUehara 1-32-15. Open 5-11pm (to 10:30pm Sat.) (LO). Closed Sundays.
!Tenmamichi (Shimo-Kitazawa - Kushiage). 5486-0088
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. [Show more]
SunmapKitazawa 2-20-2, City Hotel Lefa B1F. Open 6-11pm daily.
Tsukushi no Ko (Ikejiri-Ohashi - Izakaya). 3791-5495
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.
mapHigashiyama 3-1-11. Open 5-11pm. Closed Sundays.
!Akaoni (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.
SunmapSangenjaya 2-15-3. Open 5:30-11:30pm (LO) daily.

Good sake lists

!Himonoya (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.
lateSunmapTakadanobaba 4-11-8, 2F. Open 5pm-4am daily.
Ebisu (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.
mapTakadanobaba 3-4-11, Babahatch Bldg 1F. Open 11:45am-2, 5pm-midnight. Closed Sundays.
Cocoro Musubi (Shinjuku Gyoen-mae - Izakaya). 3355-3577
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.
mapShinjuku 2-8-17, SY Bldg 1F. Open 5:30-11pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
!Shousuke Shinjuku Sono (Shinjuku - Yakitori). 3356-1818
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]
decorSunmapShinjuku 3-32-10, T&T Bldg 7F. Open 5-11pm daily.
!Donjaca (Suehiro-dori) (Shinjuku - Izakaya). 3357-8090
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.
lateSunmapShinjuku 3-6-12, 2F. Open 4pm-5am daily.
!Shousuke (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.]
decorSunmapShinjuku 3-10-10. Open 5pm-midnight daily.
!Dora (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.
lateSunmapShinjuku 3-9-5, B1F. (Across from BYGS Bldg.) Open 5pm-5am daily.
Donjaca (honten) (Shinjuku - Izakaya). 3341-2497
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.
lateSunmapShinjuku 3-9-10. Open to about 6am daily.
Moto (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 reasonable prices. The food menu is more extensive than you'd expect, dominated by small sake-friendly dishes like smoked mackerel and fried oysters. Open from noon on weekends. (Note that there's a small Y300 table charge.)
SunmapShinjuku 5-17-11, Hakuho Bldg B1F. Open 3-11:30pm daily.
Himonoya (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.
lateSunmapNishi-Shinjuku 7-10-18, Otakibashi Bldg B1F. Open 11am-5am daily.
Kaasan Shinjuku ekimae (Nishi-Shinjuku - Izakaya). 3344-0771
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.
mapNishi-Shinjuku 1-11-11, B1F. (on the side street directly behind Yodobashi Camera honten) Open 11am-3, 4-11:20pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
Donjaca (Nishiguchi-ten) (Nishi-Shinjuku - Izakaya). 3344-3469
Imaginative pub-style Japanese food and regional sake at great prices.
lateSunmapNishi-Shinjuku 1-18-4, Kyoshin Bldg. B1F. Open 5pm-3am (LO) daily.
!Yuian (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.]
decorSunmapNishi-Shinjuku 2-6-1, Shinjuku Sumitomo Bldg. 52F. Open 5-10:30pm (LO) daily.
!Sangendou (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.
SunmapNishi-Shinjuku 2-4-1, Shinjuku NS Bldg. 29F. Open 11:30am-2, 4:30-11pm daily.
Ikiba (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. [Show more]
decorSunmapJingumae 3-21-17. Open 11:30am-10:30pm (LO). Closed Mondays.
Hasegawa Saketen (Harajuku - Liquor shop). 5785-0833
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.
no smokingSunmapJingumae 4-12-4, Omotesando Hills 3F. Open 11am-10pm (LO) daily.
Kazusaya Shinkichi (Jingumae 2-chome - Izakaya). 3401-3917
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.
mapJingumae 2-19-16. Open 4-10:30pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
Unosato (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.
mapUdagawacho 36-11. Open 5-10:30pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
!Gyossantei (Shibuya - Kyushu). 5489-6350
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.]
mapDogenzaka 2-23-12, Shibuya Fhontis Bldg 2F-A. Open 11:30am-1:30, 5:50-11pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
Himonoya (Shibuya - Izakaya). 3463-8088
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.
lateSunmapUdagawacho 33-8, B1F. (across from Tokyu honten) Open 11:30am-2, 5pm-5am daily.
!Buchi (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]
lateSunmapShinsen 9-7. Open 5pm-3am daily.
!Nakamura (Shibuya - Izakaya). 6427-9580
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. [Show more]
no smokingdecorSunmapShibuya 3-13-5, Ipuse Bldg 2F-B. Open 6-11:30pm (LO) daily.
!Tetsugen (Ebisu - Izakaya). 5768-5537
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.
lateSunmapEbisu-Minami 1-2-8. Open 6pm-3am (LO; 10pm Sun) daily.
!Konbuya (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.]
decorSunmapNishi-Azabu 4-10-5. Open 6pm-1am (LO; 11pm Sundays). Open every day.
!Himonoya (Meguro east side) (Meguro - Izakaya). 3442-8088
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.
lateSunmapKami-Osaki 2-14-5, Crystal Tower B1F. Open 11am-2, 5pm-5am daily.
!!Wattaribozu (Gotanda - Japanese regional). 3491-3808
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. [Show more]
SunmapNishi-Gotanda 1-7-1, Libio Gotanda Pragma G Tower B1F. Open 11:30am-2, 5pm-1am daily.
Kaba (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.
SunmapKaigan 1-2-20, Shiodome Building 2F. Open 11am-11:30pm daily.
Fukumitsuya (Roppongi - Liquor shop). 6804-5341
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.
SunmapAkasaka 9-7-4, Tokyo Midtown Galleria B1F. Open 11am-9pm daily.
Zanmai (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.
mapAkasaka 3-12-10, Akasaka Sun Bldg B1F. Open 11:30am-1:30, 5:30-11:30pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
!Takewaka (Akasaka - Izakaya). 3560-6322
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.
mapAkasaka 3-13-12. Open 11:30am-2, 5-11pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
Sake Bistro W (Toranomon - Izakaya). 3501-1811
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.
mapKasumigaseki 3-2-6, Tokyo Club Bldg, Kasumi Dining 1F. Open 11am-2, 5-10:30pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
Sake Plaza (Uchisaiwaicho - Retail). 3519-2091
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.
mapNishi-Shimbashi 1-1-21. Open 10am-6pm. Closed weekends.
Nozaki (Shimbashi - Izakaya). 6430-3329
Fine food and an excellent sake selection at this very unpretentious after-work izakaya. Budget around Y3000 for food and drink.
SunmapShimbashi 3-19-4, Shinkyo Bldg 1F. Open 5-11:30pm (Sat, Sun -10:30) daily.
Shinshu Osake Mura (Shimbashi - Bar). 3572-5488
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. [Show more]
no smokingmapShimbashi 2-20-15, Shimbashi Ekimae Bldg #1 1F. Open 11am-9:30pm (LO). Closed weekends.
Kengyo (Ginza - Bar). 5159-1401
Run by a liquor retail shop, this stand-up bar offers an impressive selection of sake, inexpensive small plates of food and jazz on the sound system. The attached liquor store is open from 10am.
mapGinza 3-8-12. Open 5-9pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
Takara (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.]
SunmapMarunouchi 3-5-1, Tokyo International Forum B1F. Open 11:30am-11pm daily.
Akita Pure Rice Sake Bar (Yaesu - Yakitori). 6256-0518
This yakitori shop specializes in sake from Akita Prefecture. Budget around Y3000 in the evening for some skewers and sake. Located inside Honke Abeya restaurant, which is part of the second-floor Kitamachi Dining complex at the north end of the Yaesu side of Tokyo Station, above Kitchen Street.
SunmapMarunouchi 1-9-1, Kitamachi Dining (2F). Open 11am-10pm (LO; Sat, Sun -9pm) daily.
Yamagata Sakanaichi (Yaesu - Japanese regional). 6269-9337
Regional cuisine from Yamagata Prefecture is served here, along with Yamagata's most famous product - over 100 kinds of local sake. Budget around Y2100 for food in the evening, Y1000 at lunchtime. A special lunch menu is available on weekends.
SunmapMarunouchi 1-9-1, Tokyo Gran Roof B1F. Open 10am-10pm (LO) daily.
Dojo (Kiyosumi-Shirakawa - Yakitori). 5620-1810
Great yakitori, a few well-selected sakes, and reasonable prices at this neighborhood yakitoriya. No English menu.
SunmapShirokawa 1-2-5. Open 5pm-midnight daily.
Waigai (Yotsuya 3-chome - Izakaya). 6380-4025
Good craft sake and solid Japanese izakaya fare are the draws at this elegant but casual dining bar. The food menu features charcoal-grilled beef and chicken, along with small snacks especially suited to sake. [Show more]
SunmapYotsuya 3-8-9, Mitsui Bldg 2F. Open 11:30am-2, 5-11pm (LO) daily.
!Dodo (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.
latemapFunamachi 12. (on Gaien-Higashi-dori) Open 6pm-5am (Sat. to 11pm). Closed Sundays.
Himonoya (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.
SunmapYotsuya 3-2-2, TR Bldg B1F. Open 11am-1am (LO; Sat, Sun -12) daily.
Yuzen (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. [Show more]
mapArakicho 16, Berwood Bldg 1F. Open 11:30am-2, 5-11pm. Closed Sundays.
Abuzo (Akebonobashi - Izakaya). 3341-3214
A cozy neighborhood izakaya, Abuzo specializes in charcoal-grilled beef, pork, chicken and ocean trout, with a decent sake list alongside. The white chicken livers, fresh every day, are a revelation, as is the grilled vegetable salad. Budget around Y4000-5000 for ample food and drink (includes Y600 table charge).
SunmapSumiyoshicho 8-20. Open 11:30am-2, 5:30-10:30pm (LO) daily.
Kurachan (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.
mapSumiyoshicho 10-11. Open 6-10pm. Closed Sundays.
Wagokoro (Yotsuya - Izakaya). 3357-6556
Forty brands of craft sake, all priced at a reasonable Y800 per ichigo flask, are offered at this small neighborhood sake specialist. The supporting food menu is quite reliable, with lots of seasonal vegetables and well-prepared meat and seafood items - our grilled shishamo was some of the best we've ever tasted. [Show more]
SunmapYotsuya 1-3, 2F. Open 5pm-midnight daily.
!Fuku no Hana (Yotsuya - Japanese regional). 3351-0949
Regional cuisine, local sake and shochu from Yamaguchi Prefecture are served at this friendly after-work izakaya. The menu features premium-quality heirloom-breed chicken, Takamori beef, locally caught seafood and seasonal vegetables, all brought in fresh from Yamaguchi. The charcoal-grilled section of the menu is especially recommended. [Show more]
SunmapYotsuya 1-9, Miyake Bldg 2F. Open 11:30am-2, 5-11:15pm (LO) daily.
Suzuden (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).
mapYotsuya 1-10. Open 9am-9pm. Closed Sundays.
Ikoshi (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.
SunmapSugamo 1-18-1. Open 5:30pm-midnight (LO) daily.
White Fox, The (Oji - International). 6903-6696
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.
mapKishimachi 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.
Maharani (Ariake - Izakaya). 5564-0006
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.
mapAriake 3-1-28, Ariake Park Bldg. 2F. Open 11am-10pm (LO). Closed Mondays.
Toneri (Kichijoji - Izakaya). 0422-46-2818
Seasonal izakaya fare and gourmet oden, plus very impressive lists of shochu and sake.
SunmapKichijoji Minamicho 1-17-10, F&W Bldg. B1F. Open 5:30-11:30pm (LO) daily.
Hasegawa Saketen (Futago-tamagawa - Liquor shop). 6805-7303
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.
SunmapTamagawa 2-21-1, Futago-Tamagawa Rise Shopping Center B1F. Open 10am-9pm daily.
!Aburiya Fudo (Naka-Meguro - Izakaya). 3792-4555
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.
lateSunmapHigashiyama 1-6-16. Open 6pm-2am (LO; Sundays 10pm) daily.
Gingin (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.
mapMinami-Oi 6-25-3, Sasaki Bldg B1F. Open 5-11pm. Closed Sundays.
Sangendou (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.
SunmapKinkocho 1-10, Yokohama Bay Quarter 5F. Open 11am-10pm (LO) daily.