It’s generally tough to go wrong with ramen; a comforting dish even in a run-of-the-mill chain restaurant. But when it’s made by a couple of fellas who have presumably been producing it for decades, it’s even better.
Thirty years or so ago, the bar below was a butchers. Falling returns, however, meant a rethink, and so a bar it became. A decision that seems to have been a good one, as not only is it still in operation, but it also has a steady stream of customers.
Filled with cuttings and photos from the owner’s baseball-related past, it’s a happy home-from-home for him, and a similarly happy drinking hole for those who drop in.
A bar with plenty of character, but even more in the way of characters.
Despite the city’s modern, neon-lit image, small, old and cluttered bars are not a rarity in Tokyo. Quite the opposite in fact. It’s just finding them that’s all, as they are often tucked away down side streets near the capital’s more suburban train stations. Although even when a potential drinking spot has been spied, it’s generally impossible to say what it will be like on the inside. Now and again of course the exterior suggests it’ll be interesting, but invariably it’s just a case of opening the door and hoping for the best. Amazingly, however, the best is very often what you get: whether it be an ex-French chef cooking up a storm; an establishment where the bathroom absolutely beggars belief; or a cozy little concern packed full of character but not necessarily particular when it comes to cleanliness.
And this place, to happily prove the point, was no exception.
Like so many others, it too has the clutter and memories of many a year. An impressive fifty to be exact. But what really sets it apart is the old lady who basically lives in the small space by the end of the counter. A counter that itself only seats about six, although even that would be a push.
And from her position there, she regularly scowls at and berates her son — now (supposedly) in charge of the operation. A lovely fella who, from years of practice, cleverly gives the impression of listening to her, when in reality he clearly isn’t doing anything of the sort.
In what is little more than a converted shed situated beside a suburban station’s bicycle parking space, several men of a certain age regularly gather to drink and eat. The place probably seats about seven. Any more would be uncomfortable cozy. And the toilet is in another shed at the other end of the bike park.
But these aspects are simply a part of its charm. As is the owner, who for the last twenty years or so has served drinks, chatted amiably and cooked simple, very reasonably priced food. All done after a daytime cleaning job at a nearby private school. A tough life it would seem, but one she simply gets on with.