Shinjuku Kabukicho: Bar
Hazelburn (Shinjuku Kabukicho: Bar)
Open 6pm-3am (5am Fri, Sat) daily.
late: Open late
Sun: Open Sundays

With its brick walls, purple barstools and homey Scottish tablecloths, Hazelburn has a relaxed atmosphere that even first-time visitors will find inviting. It feels almost like walking into a basement bar in a small European hotel, and it's a world away from the noise and grit of Kabukicho just outside.

Hazelburn bills itself as a Scottish pub and restaurant, but you'll also find English draft ales and pub foods in addition to Scottish delicacies and premium Scottish malt whiskies. A good place to begin is with a pint of Pedigree, an English ale served here on tap. Aged in wood casks in the traditional manner, it's light but rich in flavor, perfect for an aperitif. The famous Scottish dish of haggis is recommended as a starter. Although it has a less-than-genteel reputation in its homeland, Hazelburn's version - made with sauteed minced lamb, oatmeal and various spices - seems almost dainty. Adding a few drops of whisky helps enhance the flavor.

Fish and chips may be stereotypical pub fare, but it's worth ordering here. The fish here is halibut - an unusual choice - and it's juicy with a texture like well-prepared chicken. We prefer it with generous amounts of Heinz malt vinegar, which you can add to your taste. Another recommendation is the shepherd's pie (now famous here in Japan thanks to the Harry Potter movies), which goes surprisingly well with Japanese Worcestershire sauce. There's also a nice Scottish kedgeree, an Indian-style spicy fried-rice dish.

After dinner, it's time for some fine Scotch whisky. On our most recent visit we tried the "Hazelburn" (Y1500/glass), after which the bar is named. Probably only a few bars in Tokyo offer this whisky. Unlike other brands, it is brewed without using peat and it's distilled three times, which makes the whisky milder, with a flavor like fine brandy.

First, try drinking a little bit straight. Next, try it with a few drops of water in it. The taste almost feels like dipping into a sea of whisky. Adding just a little bit more water can change the taste to a surprising degree. Now, there's a pleasurable feeling almost like floating and swimming in an even bigger ocean of whisky.

Although lately whisky has been overshadowed in Japan by the popularity of wine and shochu, it deserves to be explored seriously. Even if you're a whisky novice, the very professional and knowledgeable staff at Hazelburn can help you with recommendations. The price of all draft beers is Y1000/pint (Y600/half pint). Food ranges from Y500 to Y1500 per dish, and various fine whiskies are priced at Y1000 to Y4000 per glass

by Hikaru Okabe
Shinjuku Kabukicho
Shinjuku-ku, Kabukicho 1-6-6, Hashimoto Bldg B1F.
Tokyo Beyond Sushi - the guidebook
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Explore the hidden side of Tokyo dining
Charcoal-grilled pork on skewers, udon noodles in curry-flavored soup, octopus dumplings, deep-fried beef cutlet -- there's a whole world of exciting food in Tokyo that food-loving visitors often miss out on.

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Venue listing from Bento.com4 Star Rating: recommended