Izakaya is known as one of the significant features of Japan’s culture in general and drinking culture in specific. Simply can be called as ‘Japanese pubs’, which serves alcoholic beverages and food that tastes good with alcohol. Izakaya is one of the must-try experiences for any traveller when coming to Japan, especially when you have your company with you and ready to enjoy the lively atmosphere inside these pubs. 

Most Tokyo Izakayas open their doors in the late afternoon, especially to white-collars workers who get out of work, and head straight to an Izakaya for a few drinks, pre-dinner snacks, and chance to having relaxing time with their colleagues.

1. Kishidayaya (岸田屋) in Tsukishima

Kishidaya

The exterior of Kishidaya. Always packed with people! From Instagram

Kishidaya started as a liquor shop in the 1920’s, and after World war II, similar history to many other traditional Izakaya in Tokyo, it became an Izakaya. The shop is all run by female staffs, the owner is a friendly grandma who is in charge of seating for the guests and also supervising the food preparation in the kitchen. The Izakaya’s U-shaped counter enough for about 15 guests, with one more counter facing the wall with the capacity of another 5 guests. On Saturdays people will start queuing up from about 16:30.

Kishidayaya’s drink menu is standard, from the whiskey highball (420yen) to 633ml bottle of beer: 630yen. Kishidayaya is known for its Gyū-nikomi (beef tendon stew) (450 Yen), which its taste is one of the best you can get in a Tokyo Izakaya. Of course there’s seasonal change in the menu.

Gyu-nikomi, is a definite must try!

Gyu-nikomi, is a definite must try! From Twitter

Address:
3-15-12 Tsukishima, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 

Access:
8mins walk from Tsukishima Station

Hours:
5:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Closed on Sundays & holidays

Price range:
2,000yen ~

Tel:
03 3531 1974

2. Sanchokuya Taka (産直屋たか) in Shibuya

The name of this Izakaya describes its business model well because they import fresh seafood every morning, so the special thing here is to enjoy delicate mixture of delicious Japanese sake and seafood. Food are intended to be eaten with sake, and you will be able to enjoy Japanese sake to go here since they don’t have other drink menus except a beer for the first drink.  You will not be able to have the same freshness and taste that this restaurant offers at other Izakayas. 

Delicious oyster dish of Sanchokuya Taka.

Delicious oyster dish of Sanchokuya Taka. From Instagram

The owner of Sanchokuya has carefully selected up to 10 best Japanese sakes for the diners here and it is said that to be the best sake in Shibuya, so you must make your way to try the food and drinks here. Before coming for dining, remember to call up for reservations first (reservation time starts from 4.30pm to 5.30pm on the day a week before the date you are actually coming to the restaurant). About entering the restaurant, they take extra care on the smells (to enjoy delicate taste of Japanese sake) so avoid putting on too much perfumes or something with strong smell.

One of the sake bottles at Sanchokuya Taka.

One of the sake bottles at Sanchokuya Taka. From Twiiter @team_cinq

Address:
B1F Lions-mansion Shibuya, 12-2, Maruyama-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Access:
10mins walk from JR Shibuya station or 3mins walk from Inokashira Line Shinsen station

Hours:
8:00 p.m – 11:00 p.m. (last entry 8:30 p.m.).
Closed on Sundays and Mondays

Price range:
6,000yen ~

Website:
http://ameblo.jp/nata92513/theme-10045750914.html
(Japanese only)

3. Kotaro (高太郎) in Shibuya

This Japanese bar is so popular and famous that it is quite difficult to make reservations here. Due to the popularity of Kotaro, the wait list for reservations can be one month long; otherwise this place is perfect.

The chef Kotaro Hayashi.

The chef Kotaro Hayashi. From Twiiter

The selection of Japanese sake from the nine breweries that the owner has carefully picked as his exclusive providers is well worth exploring. Menu items include potato salad with smoked egg, gratin with scallops and crab, and minced pork cutlet that is juicy without being greasy. Since this restaurant is open till 2 in the morning, you could try to place a reservation for a time slot past midnight to try some of their delicious dishes at a great deal!

Beautiful dishes of Kotaro.

Beautiful dishes of Kotaro. From Instagram

Address:
Shibuya Sakuragaoka 28-2 Mikasa building 1F

Access:
8mins walk from Shibuya Station

Hours:
6:00 p.m. to next 2 a.m. (last order 1a.m).
Closed on Sundays

Price range:
6,000yen ~

Website:
http://ameblo.jp/kotaro-info/
(Japanese only)

4. Osaka Kushikatsu Tentekomai (大阪串かつ テンテコマイ) in Asakusa

This Izakaya is specialized in fried skewer dishes, which originated from Osaka. The store decoration is bright and cozy, it also has counter seats and tables. Normally, you will find lots of skewer- Izakaya stores like this in Osaka, but in Tokyo, Osaka Kushikatsu Tentekomai is definitely worth trying experience. 

Kushi-katsu and alcohol are the best match!

Kushi-katsu and alcohol are the best match! From Instagram

Address:
1-31-4 Asakusabashi Taito Building, B1F, Tokyo

Access:
2mins walk from Asakusabashi

Hours:
5:00 p.m to next 1 a.m. (last order 12:30 a.m.)

Price range:
2,000yen ~

Tel:
050-5869-4138

5. Niwatsudori (庭つ鶏) in Gotanda

Niwatsudori is a chicken specialized izakaya.

Niwatsudori is a chicken specialized izakaya. From Instagram

Niwatsudori is a Izakaya specialized in chicken dishes. The shop is said to have great location for cherry-blossom watching in the spring. Niwatsudori is very famous for its chicken sashimi, and also require early reservation before the shop open in the afternoon. The drinks go with dishes are quite well. Another good point of this Izakaya is it has both counter seats and table seats, which is said good for families and children too!

Chicken sashimi is a must try!

Chicken sashimi is a must try! From Instagram

Address:
2-18-3 Nishigotanda Shinagawa Tokyo

Access:
3 mins walk from JR Gotanda Station

Hours:
5:00 p.m – 11:00 p.m.
Closed on Sundays and holidays

Price range:
4,000yen ~

Tel:
03-3492-2818

*Thumbnail image is from Flickr