Zaian
Ikebukuro: Izakaya
Zaian (Ikebukuro: Izakaya)
Zaian
Open 11:30am-2, 5pm-midnight (LO). Closed Mondays.
late: Open late
Sun: Open Sundays

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.

Ikebukuro
Toshima-ku, Higashi-Ikebukuro 1-31-1, Barack Court B1F.
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Venue listing from Bento.com4 Star Rating: recommended