1.29.2011

Red Bar Shibuya

The elusive Red Bar is hidden away in a back street of Shibuya. If you manage to find it, late on a Friday night the tiny bar is packed to the rim with people (probably 30 maximum). The red velvet walls are covered with chandeliers of all colours, shapes and sizes, which act as good conversation starters when rubbing shoulders with the local hipsters. Although the room is swimming in smoke, all drinks are 500 yen, the crowd friendly and relaxed, and comes with a bar tender, dressed in orange workman gear, that pumps his favourite tunes from his ipod. Ahhh I love Tokyo.

One thing to note - the owners do not allow roudy behaviour or photos to be taken, so if you decide to visit Red Bar make sure to be on your best behaviour and turn off your flash.

Map to Red Bar

The following photo's courtesy of G. Kelly's phone.

Red bar dazzling chandeliers

Mixing with the locals

1.16.2011

Tokyo food: Shin Hinomoto (Andy's) Hibiya

Affectionally known as "Andy's" by the foreigners that frequent this Izakaya uder the Yurakucho train tracks, Shin Hinomoto is a long-standing family run restaurant, now under the management of Andy, who is married to the original owner's daughter. Complete with it's own Facebook page, the restaurant is brimming with people on a Friday night.

Famed for bringing the day's best catches from Tsukiji each morning, the food is fresh, and portion sizes very generous. For those who like to eat their fatty tuna sashimi pieces in chunks rather than delicate slices this is the place for you!

Looking around, there seem to be a few deals going on between Western and Japanese business men. I imagine that foreign business men bring their guests here to sweeten them up before closing the deal.

Speaking of sweet, there is no dessert menu, but then again, you probably don't need it after enjoying such a big meal.

Assorted sashimi

Stuffed chicken wings, and jumbo prawns behind

1.09.2011

Tokyo food: Frames Cafe Shibuya

A perfect Sunday lunch to break up a day shopping in Shibuya.
Frames lunch set menu's are well priced, plentiful and yummy. The cafe has a comfortable and casual atmosphere, and is a good spot to take in the various Shibuyan fashion.

I chose the soup and salad set - 980 yen. The set menu also comes with a variety of drinks, tea, coffee which you can refill as many times as you please! Needless to say, there is always a line for the bathroom.

The cherry on the cake was the cool cafe manager who gave me a member card as I left and stamped it 5 times, so I could be closer to my free meal!


Frames Shibuya - Soup and salad set

Official site: http://www.frames-tokyo.info/
English info: http://www.bento.com/rev/2166.html

1.05.2011

Tokyo New Years Eve: A Summary

People travelling to Tokyo are often put off coming at New Years, as many travel guides highlight that during the new year Tokyo locals travel back to their home towns, and much of the city is closed. I on the other hand think new years is a wonderful time to spend in Tokyo. It is true that parts of the city shut down, but not only are the street's easier to navigate with less people; in a city that never sleeps you are sure to find many shops and restaurants open for business. Below is a quick rundown on how you can spend your new years eve in Tokyo:

1) Book a restaurant and enjoy Nomihoudo (All you can drink)
We chose Gonapchi in Shibuya, a Tokyo favourite, and had a delcious set-menu accompanied by a beautiful view.

Grilled Gindaya from Gonpachi

2) Bullrush in Shibuya
Countdowns happen in various parts of the city, but at the famous intersection in Shibuya madness ensues as hundreds of people run in to the crossing, yelling and wishing each other happy new year. In true Japanese style, when the flashing man turns red everyone politely return to the side of the road, to madly rush in again once the cars have passed and pedestrian's can cross.


3) All night, all you can drink Karaoke
It's new years, it's Tokyo, Karaoke is the simple answer! And after all you can drink, no one cares how tone deaf you are.


4) Visit a temple
At the beginning of the new year Japanese people visit the temple to pray for a successful coming year. Not only are the shrines beautiful, the festival food stores sell treats such as yakisoba and takoyaki straight off the bbq.

Write your wish for the new year and hang it at a temple

Finally, if you are in Tokyo from the 2nd of January you catch the sales which are a site on their own!