Finding Tokyo's top theme bars

| Feb 22, 2008

Finding Tokyo's top theme bars

Sure, “best theme bar” is faint praise, but here are four Tokyo joints that are more fun than the Hard Rock Cafe. They were selected through the following criteria: 1) The theme must reflect the owner’s passion. 2) No maid or dog cafes. 3) ...

Tokyo hones the craft of the cocktail

| Jan 25, 2008

Tokyo hones the craft of the cocktail

“The best bartenders on the planet all work in Ginza,” claims Masahiro Kon, ex-bartender and award-winning cocktail creator. “In the U.S., they’re mixing drinks with herbs and other weird ingredients, but in Ginza the best guys just polish their cocktails like jewels.” So Kon ...

A sleighload of ways to savor the taste of Christmas

Dec 14, 2007

A sleighload of ways to savor the taste of Christmas

Only 1 percent of Japan is Christian. Luckily the rest of the country is happy to pilfer the fun parts of a jolly old festival season. So whether you’re celebrating the prophet or the presents, and whether Christmas means eggnog, panettone or foie gras, ...

Skin-deep success

Dec 4, 2007

Skin-deep success

It started with an e-mail from my editor: “Get yr (sic) camera ready. Online Dating Minus Ugly People is coming to Japan. Thinking Lifestyle page trend piece. Ready for the money shot?” Online dating minus ugly people is the premise behind Beautifulpeople.net, described by ...

Nov 30, 2007

The Hot 8 Brass Band "Rock with the Hot 8"

Why would anybody choose to play the tuba? It’s the heaviest and most expensive piece of brass, it belches notes that could make buildings fall down, and the brightest career hope is to play the rom-pa-pom-pom of fat people walking in cartoons. Despite those ...

Tequila to be sipped, not slammed

Nov 23, 2007

Tequila to be sipped, not slammed

I won ¥1 million last week, betting on the botanical classification of the blue agave — the key ingredient of tequila. Early on Thursday morning in a Roppongi bar, an overconfident drinker called the plant a cactus; my money said lily. The foot-high spiky ...

Lean, green and no hippy aftertaste

Oct 30, 2007

Lean, green and no hippy aftertaste

Imagine a lasagna without the meat. Now drop the cheese and pasta too. Not much left? Veggie Paradise, which opened in September in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Uehara neighborhood, fills in the blanks with zucchini slices in place of the pasta, fermented cashew nuts that replicate ...

Oct 26, 2007

Upmarket bakery makes ambience its bread and butter

It’s easy to be cynical about Point et Ligne, a boutique bakery that sells staple food at gastronomic prices. Loaves for ¥2,500 under the moody lighting of a jazz club? Clutch your purse and approach with skepticism. But there’s good reason the Marunouchi, Tokyo ...

Skate on down to Little Korea

Sep 14, 2007

Skate on down to Little Korea

To misquote Judy Garland: this doesn’t feel much like Tokyo anymore. There are shops selling bootleg Korean videotapes. Yes, tapes. There are Halal grocery stores that stay open until 1 a.m.; cut-price clothing stores that close even later. There are signs in Thai, Arabic ...