Yum Cha Chats: Kampai! Tokyo sake bars with Shingo Nakamura
The prog house legend is back with a forthcoming album on Monstercat Silk
It’s been a decade since his last album, Tokyo-based Shingo Nakamura is back on the scene with a fresh new single ‘Glow’ on Monstercat Silk. Silk is the third and latest brand by the global label which also nurtures Uncaged and the recently founded Instinct. Diversity is their game, while refinement is the process. And Shingo Nakamura knows a thing or two about refinement.
The progressive house legend boasts a discography that includes highlight releases on Anjunadeep and Japan’s Otographic Music, and finally, after a decade from a predecessor LP, ‘Glow’ is the leading single from a forthcoming album dropping early this summer, on Monstercat Silk of course.
And leaning back on the topic of refinement, melodic and harmonic prog house isn’t the only craft that Nakamura can claim connoisseur fame to — he’s an avid sake savant, and is the perfect local guide for indulgent affair with sake bars across Tokyo. Kampai!
If you are looking for a sake bar with a private and quiet atmosphere, I would recommend Yorokobi, which is my favorite in Tokyo. Yorokobi is located in an old downtown area known as Yanesen. You can enjoy a wide variety of sake, especially the warm kind (atsukan). The food, mainly Japanese-style, is excellent and pairs well with their sake. Be sure to finish off the meal with some excellent udon. It is a small restaurant so making a reservation is recommended.
SAKE Street is located in Asakusabashi, a station next to Akihabara. It just opened in November 2019, but it's definitely one of my favourites because it has a great selection of brands that I don't see often in Tokyo. SAKE Street is actually a liquor store, not a bar. But you can taste the sakes at affordable prices. I highly recommend for those who don't speak Japanese because you can communicate with the owner in English and there are also explanations in English on their Instagram. You'll definitely find a favourite one!
Little SAKE Square
There are many all-you-can-drink from a refrigerator (self-pouring sake) places in Tokyo, but Little SAKE Square is one I particularly recommend. Little SAKE Square is located in Kinshicho, a seven minute train ride from Akihabara station. You can freely pour and compare from around 80 different brands of sake. In addition, they offer all-you-can-eat sushi on some days! Look for your favourite sake while chatting with the staff and other customers. You can bring your own drink and food so it's also a good idea to buy local ones at a supermarket.
Yodare is located in Yushima and Otsuka. In addition to a wide variety of sake, this restaurant serves sashimi, meat, and other items similar to the food menu of an Izakaya (Japanese style pub). So it's especially recommended for those who want to eat a variety of foods at affordable prices. The sake lineup includes some rare items that are hard to find, even in Tokyo.
Hasegawa Saketan GranSta
Located inside JR Tokyo Station, Hasegawa Saketan is a standing sake bar where you can easily enjoy sake and snacks. It's open from seven am so you can have a quick drink before getting on the train. I recommend the doburoku (unrefined sake) made at the Tokyo Station Sake Brewery next door. You can also buy a bottle of sake at the store.