Ahiru Store is a gem of a wine bar serving food and natural wines on the outskirts of Shibuya, it's rather on the Tomigaya side but an easy walk (see itinerary by foot) from the famed Shibuya Hachiko crossing. The business card of the place (pictured in left) which looks as if it had been drawn by the owner a few seconds before is a good omen for what it has in store...
People go to Ahiro Store for both the food and the wines, which are mostly artisan wines from France. The food is prepared on the other side of the counter where most of the patrons stand, although there are a couple of standing barrels that you use as a table when the counter is full or if you want more privacy. The wine bar/restaurant is easily full because it is one of the casual restaurants serving these wines which are increasingly popular in Tokyo. This is definitely a place to go to if you want to experience the natural-wine public here, which is more mainstream maybe than in France, and possibly younger.
I was tipped about this wine bar by Rebekah (seen on the picture on right walking into the venue) who in addition to be a fine-sake specialist knows much about the wine scene in this big city. She had presented me to the founder of the place, Teruhiko Saito (picture above, on right), who was also visiting Festivin (the Tokyo natural-wine fair) a few days earlier.
Read Rebekah's profile on Ahiro Store, written 15 months ago.
Hahiro Store is the convenient translation of the Japanese name of the place, アヒルストアの which meand "duck shop" (Ahiru is duck). I forgot to ask the founder why this name.
This remote part of Shibuya where the bar is located has nothing to do with the noisy, neon-lit streets and alleys around Hachiko crossing, it's almost residential and very quiet. You can't miss the place with the line of empty bottles (inspiring labels...) and the freshly-baked (home made) bread behind the window.
From what I could learn while walking in the Tokyo and stumbling on bars/restaurants on the street level, many places that have the sign "wine bar" have an uninteresting wine list seemingly picked from distributors specialized in commercial wine, lots of New World wine and from what I could judge from the French labels, not worth paying what they asked, except for the pride of showing you were having this or that AOC.
Here, no concessions to the bland wines hiding behind a prestigious appellation, just real stuff made without corrections from either organic or biodynamic vineyards. When I spotted the wine on the left on the picture of the Japan Times, I understand why Puzelat-Bonhomme's delicious cuvée Le Rouge est Mis (which I profiled on this page) is so hard to find in France, they probably grab a large part of it here...
Even Tokyo's online guide reference Tablog, an Internet resource listing an enormous number of restaurants and bars gives a very good ranking to Ahiro Store.A local hip magazine, Brutus also praised Ahiru Store and from this point it was difficult to find a counter spot there (I've read that on Ichi-for-the-michi).
The dishes are prepared just under your eyes behind the counter, by Teruhiko's sister Wakako.
I don't know why I didn't shhot the other ones, there was Banzaï Ahiru Store by Christophe Pacalet in 2010 and Le vin peux changer le monde (wine can change the world) by importer Yoshio Ito, and also the words of René-Jean Dard (in 2011) : Boire un coup avec vous c'est du bonheur, je vous aime (drink with you is happiness, I love you)... There are a few other interesting drawings and comments, see on this picture.
Like I wrote on my Festivin story, Tehuriko Saito wrote recently a book on natural wine with Makoto Konno, and the book, titled Biotalk, also lists 100 of the best natural-wine producers with a short résumé. You'll notice the duck on the cover page (Ahiru means duck in Japanese).
The bread is on the right, with for example French bread (all home made) 150 Y, Campagne bread at 250 Y, onion Campagne bread at 250 Y and fig bread at 350, among others.
The wines on the left prices per glass, cost 800 Yen to 1000 Yen (makes 5,6 € & 7,7 USD to 7 € & 9,7 USD), with also beer (1 pint 800 Y & 1/2 500 Y), cider 800 Y and Champagne 1000 Yen. Also : Calvados 900Y, Grappa 900 Y, Gerard Schueller Marc 1200 Y, desert wine 800 Y. Coffee espresso 400 Y.
The dishes & plates are in the middle : Onion cake 400 Y, potato salad 300 Y, endive & parmesan salad 900 Y, rillettes 600 Y, pork/chicken terrine 800 Y, Spanish omelette with spinach and chicken 1600 Y, fish soup 800 Y, turnip cous cous 800 Y, 3-cheese plate 1000 Y and other dishes...