Torigen Kanda Higashiguchi, Tokyo, Japan

After a couple of beers at TAP x TAP and Craft Beer Market Kanda I headed off to find dinner with my phone in hand.

Around 50 metres from Craft Beer Market was Torigen which is a yakitori restaurant.

Walking in the door you head down the stairs to a large restaurant with private dining rooms as well as tables and the ubiquitous counter looking into the kitchen.

I was seated at the counter where I quickly ordered a beer (it had been all of 15 minutes since my last beer so I was parched 🙂 ) while they found an English menu for me.

Over the next hour I was treated to 15 sticks of very good, freshly grilled, yakitori that finished off a great evening in Kanda.

While the ambiance felt upscale the food was very well priced – I guess that’s what happens when you have a hundred restaurants per block!


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Craft Beer Market, Kanda, Tokyo, Japan

After TAP x TAP I proceeded to the Kanda outlet of the Craft Beer Market chain. Probably no further than 200m from TAP x TAP if you don’t get lost.

The Craft Beer Market had a much more extensive beer list (around 30 beers) than TAP x TAP and pints are more reasonably priced @ ¥780.

Sticking with the IPA theme I chose one of the half a dozen choices of IPAs for my first beer.

For my second beer I chose one of the summer season beers. Here is what it looked like.

I think it was plum flavored but no beer should be that colour!

They also serve food but I didn’t partake – I had other plans.

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TAP x TAP, Kanda, Tokyo, Japan

After the 90 minute Shinkansen trip from Nagano I was now back in Tokyo for the final couple of days of my trip.

Before I’d flown to Japan I’d found an article talking about the craft beer scene that was popping up in Japan, and in Tokyo around the Kanda Station area.

True to form when I got off the train I headed for the wrong subway exit and ended up 500m metres from where I wanted to go (a feat I would repeat while tying to get back into the station a couple of hours later!)

My first stop was a small bar called TAP x TAP.

I was the first patron and had my pick of the seats, so I sat towards the back.

I chose a pint of the Belgian IPA at 7% and also some french fries as I hadn’t eaten for a while. The beer arrived very quickly, and the fries a couple of minutes later.

The beer was pretty good, especially in the heat, as were the chips.

Two more people wandered in around 5:30pm but the whole area seemed pretty quiet (it was a Monday night after all) with only a small number of people out and about.

But I’d found another beer cafe a little further south on my map, so I settled up the bill (¥1382), walked out the door and proceeded to get lost again 🙁

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Misoya, Nagano, Japan

After the big night the previous day where I started at the Leffe Bar, then ate at Terako Machi and continued on at James Nagano Beer Market I was running a little slow and only had a quick coffee in the morning at Beck’s.

I started getting peckish mid afternoon and I found a ramen restaurant rated as one of the best in Nagano just a 3 minutes walk away from my hotel in a little side street opposite the station.

I stood almost directly outside the restaurant while I tried to get a GPS fix and waited for my mobile data session to be reestablished as I didn’t quite know whether the place I wanted was on the ground floor (which is was) or in the building above.

The ramen as this restaurant was probably the best that I had during my trip. The broth was just sublime and the combination of flavors only enhanced the taste.

I almost ordered a second bowl!

A large Asahi helped me wash down my meal and I began to feel alive again.

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Terako Machi, Nagano, Japan

I first headed off to the Leffe Bar just after it opened and was the 2nd person there. I had a couple of beers but really wanted to head to a yakitori place that I’d walked past a couple of time.

I headed back towards the station and went into the restaurant for what would become one of my top 2 favorites evenings of my trip.

Walking in I was seated in the only spare seat at the counter in this small restaurant. There was probably 10 seats downstairs and a small area upstairs.

It soon became apparent that there was no English menu, and the staff didn’t speak any significant amount of English either. But I could see into the kitchen, I could see what the others were eating, and I had a decent mobile internet connection so I could use Google Translate.

With a certain amount of pointing to the translator on my phone and some pointing to other dishes I managed to find out that the only meat served was chicken – that was fine by me, I just needed to make sure I didn’t end up ordering anything, umm, dodgy.

I managed to order 5 sticks of chicken thigh yakitori and a draft beer. I was proud of myself!

I also managed to order some chicken breast yakitori. I patted myself on the back!

The locals were certainly amused at my antics and they were soon trying to talk to me using google translate on our phones. And we had what conversations we could.

And then they insisted I share their sake with them and they helped me order more food. The owner also shouted me a sake. I then bought some sake over the protests of my new friends for us to share.

What had started off as just popping in for a quick meal turned into a 3.5 hour experience of great food, sake and local hospitality.

As I left with one of my new friends I took him upto the bar I had been the night before, James Nagano Beer Market to repay his generosity for sharing his sake with me with a couple of beers.

A magnificent evening! And then staggered back to my hotel.

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