I had the preconception that the tachinomi type of bar, the standing bar, was to be found only in the shitamachi part of Tokyo or other towns. In other words, I thought that it was a working-class venue for the salarymen and workers at the bottom of the social ladder, but I began to explore what I would call more upscale tachinomis or standing bars, located in more affluent neighborhoods and targetting a more middle-class clientèle.
We're in Shinjuku again, and following the tip of John W., I visited this place with my friend T. who in spite of being a native Tokyoite is always happy to learn about an interesting bar to go to for a few glasses and plates.
Again, even if this standing bar is neater and more sophisticated than the ones in more simple neighborhoods, I notice that there is little coverage on them, they are the second fiddles for the restaurant/bar guides, maybe because the patrons there are mostly local salarymen and executives, because foreigners are shy of venturing inside. This story will try to correct that and show how you can have a beautiful time for not so much money in this supposedly expensive city.
This venue is located in a basement (B1) and this is the opportunity to remind that in Tokyo, many restaurants and bars are not on the street level, they're either on upper stories (F1, F2.... F5 or higher) or in the basements, and an unsuspecting westerner passes them without even imagining that they pass dozens of hidden venues when they walk along these streets and avenues. We're so much used in Paris for example to just walk around a given neighborhood to have an idea of the potential restaurants that we're left clueless in Tokyo if we follow the same routine.
One thing we noticed was that there were a few women in this standing bar, which is not usual for the standing bars located in the shitamachi part of town. I think we counted 3 of them, which made a pretty high ratio on a total of 14 people.
The picture above was shot when we left, and this time all the group cheered.
This standing bar has higher quality of sake, but you still find lower-bracket nihonshu similar to the ones you find in the working-class-area bars, but the pours are also less generous (no overflowing masu). It's still very affordable compared to Paris where a glass of mediocre wine can easily cost 5 €. There's a table fee before you drink or eat anyrthing, but it's only 300 Y, quite low with other venues in this area where it can reach 500 Y or 600 Y. These table fees are called Otoshi in japanese and they usually incluse a small plate of appetizers.
Otherwise there was a long list of small dishes on the wall, here are a few examples (500 Y = 3,8 € or 5 USD) :
Fermented cuttlefish tripes with fich flesh : 500 Y;
Tempura plate : 450 Y;
Potato salad : 500 Y;
Cheese with miso and fried tofu : 450 Y;
Fried marinated chicken with shiokoji and salt : 500 Y;
Minced fish : 650 Y;
Moto curry with sake kasu : 500 Y;
Grilled bacon marinated in sake kasu : 450 Y;
Pork rib cooked with sake kasu : 600 Y;
Whale bacon : 500 Y;
Minced grilled fish : 650 Y;
Cream cheese : 450 Y;
Beef cooked in sauce : 500 Y;
Creamcheese with urchins : 450 Y;
Vinegar seaweed : 400 Y;
Lightly-cooked oysters with tartar sauce : 650 Y;
Oysters in oil : 400 Y; >br>Salmon & scallops marinated in shiokoji : 450 Y;
Scallops with sauteed vegetables with garlic : 600 Y... I think that we could have spent more in this bar...