For those interested in Japanese culture, you can’t go past tasting their traditional drink known as sake. Here are 10 of the best bars in Tokyo where you can enjoy the famous drink.
Located in the residential district of Nakano, Shimomiya features high-back wooden chairs, soft lighting and a simple main counter. People go to Shimomiya for two things – sake and fish. Shimomiya provides different sorts of fresh tuna, pike and mackerel obtained from the nearby Tsukiji, the world’s largest fish market. The bar is fully stocked with about 200 varieties of sake. These range from fresh organic labels to those made by the Taketsuru family, who founded Japan’s whiskey industry. Order yours smooth or pure.
Classy, trendy, yet very reasonably priced, Kuri is situated in the heart of Tokyo’s bar district close to Japan Railway Shimbashi station. The friendly bar stocks more than 100 different varieties of sake, ranging from fresh-pressed to finely aged. It includes a seasonal selection that changes every week. Visitors might find the variety intimidating but don’t worry: the staff and friendly locals are always happy to help. New visitors will benefit from an introductory tour to help them choose
Located near the Ginza-itchome station in Ginza District, Sasahana is a hidden gem that has been in business for about 30 years. It serves some of the best sake and Japanese food around. The elegant bar is stylishly decorated which cedar walls and white wooden countertops which give off a traditional Japanese feel. The visible stainless steel kitchen where you can watch the expert chefs at work adds a modern touch to the place. Order from a variety of sake brands, including limited editions.
If you are looking for an old-fashioned style sake bar with a modern flair, then Akaoni is your best bet. The translation of Akaoni is ‘red devil’. Beginners must be careful, as they take their sake very seriously here. Akaoni is located just five minutes from Sangen-jaya station, though it is not particularly easy to find. Once you get there, you will be impressed with the warm, down-to-earth atmosphere. Choose from more than 100 varieties of sake with a seasonal option called namazake, which is raw, unpasteurized sake.
Conveniently located inside Japan Railway Tokyo station, Hasegawa Saketan is rated as one of the best sake bars in Tokyo. The very knowledgeable and friendly bartenders speak English perfectly and are happy to assist and teach visitors about Japan’s signature drink. While waiting for your train, try some of the trendiest sake brands like Juyondai, Tamagata, Dassai and Yamaguchi. The establishment opens as early as 7am for early birds. You can also purchase a bottle of the sake from the shop next door.
In a cozy basement with a relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere, filled with down-to-earth people listening to the soulful sounds of sixties jazz, is Zaian. The small establishment is a popular spot for those looking to hang out while enjoying some of the best sake and food in Tokyo. The impressive sake list boasts several dozen labels from regional breweries. On the food menu, there are some tasty fish specialties, grilled pork dishes and seasonal vegetables, which you can order to accompany your choice of sake. Bring a friend along for this unforgettable experience.
If you desire to blend in with the locals while enjoying good sake, Manaita is highly recommended. This bar has simple decor, with its slightly cramped counter and seats. It is a favorite hang-out spot for locals who go there for the extensive food selection and matching sake list. The friendly owner and staff are happy to suggest which sake would complement your choice meal perfectly. They even serve beer if anyone in the group is intimidated by the famous Japanese drink. Try the strong Nigori that pairs well with anchovies.
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