- Yoshiaki Hirota
Three Selected Shibuya Izakaya, Each with an English Menu!
About 3 Izakaya located in Shibuya that serve drinks such as sake and sour alcohol sushi, sashimi, yakitori etc; and also offer an English menu.
Izakaya are a unique kind of restaurant in Japan. Since the contents of the menu are non-standard, many foreigners may worry about not understanding the menu and consequently avoid such establishments. Here we will feature some Shibuya izakaya that all offer an English menu so that even non-Japanese will understand what is available and be able to order.
1. Is this also Japanese culture? Kaguraya, an izakaya with private rooms
Recently, izakaya that feature private rooms are becoming popular. Since such izakaya are partitioned up into individual rooms, guests can relax and enjoy food and drinks without minding those sitting around them.
While “individual rooms” in some restaurants are really half-open rooms separated by curtains and blinds, Kaguraya’s Shibuya branch is one of only a few Shibuya izakaya that has fully enclosed rooms complete with doors.
This is a perfect place for when you want to take your time and relax, enjoying your meal in a somewhat quiet place. The restaurant is also particular about its food, featuring a predominantly Japanese-style menu for which the head chef, who underwent training at a high-class Japanese-style restaurant for 10 years since the age of 18, personally finds and negotiates the fresh ingredients for the menu items.
Some of the restaurant’s recommendations include “aburi shime saba (seared mackerel)” “gensen! asajime sengyo moriawase ( a specially selected assortment of the morning’s fresh fish)” and “kiji-hamaguri no bata- mushi” (clams steamed with butter).”
For excellent Japanese sake to pair with Japanese food, we suggest Fukushima prefecture’s Aizu Shuzo Co., Ltd., which the restaurant procures through a proprietary route.
This sake was made with 100% underground water and presents an elegant finish, perfect for a marriage of Japanese cuisine with Japanese sake to enjoy in one of the restaurant’s quiet and private rooms.
Fully Enclosed Private Rooms Kaguraya Shibuya branch
■Address: Za1-5-9 Za･renga Bld.5F, Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0043, Japan * 1 minute on foot from Shibuya Station
■Business hours: 12:00 pm through 5:00 am (the following morning)
2. When visiting Japan, one must have a drink with yakitori! Nanbantei, with authentic yakitori and local brew
Yakitori grilled chicken always ranks in the top class of small snacks that Japanese enjoy consuming together with some alcoholic beverage. Shibuya Nanbantei is a well-established restaurant that now counts 26 years since its establishment in Shibuya, which is a place known for restaurants that quickly come and go. Nanbantei’s specialty is the type of chicken used for its main product of yakitori. The restaurant uses Saga prefecture’s “aritadori,” a brand of chicken which won a nationwide contest judged by food specialists who evaluate the most delicious chicken from production areas across the country. Every morning fresh chicken is delivered to and prepared at the restaurant, and both “kushi-uchi” (spearing the meat with skewers) as well as grilling the meat is only performed by artisan chefs who have undergone more than three years of special training. One can taste just how serious this restaurant is about providing good yakitori.
Popular menu items include “tezukuri tsukune,” which is made by kneading minced chicken meat, shiso-maki, chicken wrapped in leaves of shiso (beefsteak plant) for a light, refreshing taste, aspara-maki, asparagus wrapped in pork, and “seseri” that is the scarce neck portion of the chicken. If you come early, try the “ichiban ninki toriwasa,” a popular and limited item on the menu (only 20 portions of this are prepared each day) that entails briefly cooking the raw chicken breast to condense the savory taste.
Customers will be happy to note that Nanbantei offers a discount special from 3-6pm, where one can drink Japan’s high-end beer “The Premium Malts” for only 300 JPY when average prices are usually 500-600 JPY. Beer with yakitori is one of the best combinations in Japan, and you might find yourself craving this after just one taste!
Authentic Yakitori & Local Brew Nanbantei Shibuya Hachiko Exit Branch
■Address:Iwamoto Bld.2F, 1-1-22-7, Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0041, Japan *2 minutes on foot from Shibuya Station
■Business hours: Monday-Thursday 3:00 pm through 11:30 pm, Friday, Saturday, Day before a public holiday 3:00 pm through 12:00 am, Sundays, Public Holidays 3:00 pm through 11:00 pm
There are staff that can speak English and Chinese, and an English menu is available.
3. For Japan experts who appreciate dried fish Shibuya Himonoya
Japanese are immensely fond of fish and have developed a variety of ways to enjoy fish in meals such as sashimi, grilling, and boiling. Another one of those many methods is drying fish for later consumption.
Himonoya specializes in himono - fish which are cut open when fresh and seasoned with salt, dried in the sun, bleached by the sea breeze, and bathed in natural sunlight to produce a condensed, very distinctive dried taste. If you can appreciate the savory taste of himono, then perhaps you are already an expert on Japan!
They also offer myriad other varieties such as thick and juicy “shima hokke no hiraki (Atka mackerel that has been opened and dried)” and “okina ika no ichiya hoshi” (large squid that has been salted and dried overnight) with a plump, juicy texture and rich taste.
Moreover, the restaurants stocks a variety of carefully selected local brews to accompany himono such as shochu from various regions of Japan and even Dassai, a Japanese sake that was given to President Obama as a souvenir when he visited Japan.
You’ll be sure to find your favorite drink here. Beers and sour alcohol are also available.
Himonoya in front of Shibuya’s Tokyu flagship store
■Address: Tsukada Building B1, 33-8, Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0042, Japan *3 minutes on foot from the Hachiko Exit of Shibuya Station
■Business hours: Monday-Friday 11:00 am-5:00 am (the next morning), Saturday, Sunday, Holidays 4:00 pm through 5:00 am (the next morning)
An English menu is available
Izakaya are different from your typical Japanese restaurant. We hope you’ll enjoy the unique tastes and specialties of izakaya that offer excellent food to go well with drinks!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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