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Mitaka’s 3 Stories is a birthplace of new tales

by Angela Erika Kubo

They say that when you enter a good bar you should bring with you an anecdote that you share with the bartender or another customer sitting at the bar, who, in turn, would also have a story to exchange. By the end of the night, after a bottle of whiskey to loosen the tongue and a few laughs, a new story is made right inside the bar. Hence the naming of 3 Stories.

“There are a lot of people who met each other here and ended up marrying. At least seven couples,” says founder Yu Nishikawa, who also met his wife while working at 3 Stories. “It’s the kind of bar where it’s easy to meet other people and talk to them.”

Nishikawa himself has a handful of stories to share. He went to bartending school and worked in a variety of establisments to learn the business, including a stint in Okinawa, which explains the inclusion of taco rice on the food menu. He opened 3 Stories with a friend when he was only 21, and they made everything from the bar counter to the wooden panels on the walls. Over the past eight years, the bar has become a laid-back hangout for people in their late-20s or early 30s who want to unwind with a glass of whiskey after work.

“I walked in, ordered a drink and was impressed by the presentation and friendliness. I kept on going back to make friends and learn Japanese,” says Joe Ashizawa, an accountant who stumbled upon 3 Stories shortly after moving to Japan in 2010.

Nishikawa doesn’t have any original drinks on the menu, but he does take care in preparing each drink he serves, even going the extra mile of carving ice into perfect balls to go into the whiskey glasses. His specialty is the Moscow Mule (¥680 excluding tax), to which he adds a bit of fresh ginger to give it an extra kick. He also recommends the Jack Tar (¥680 excluding tax), a cocktail made of Ronrico, lime and Southern Comfort.

One of the tastiest things on the menu, other than the original taco rice (¥680 excluding tax), is the banana in egg roll wrapping, which is fried and served with a side of vanilla ice cream (¥580 excluding tax). It goes best with a straight glass of whiskey.

Other homemade touches are scattered around the bar, such as candleholders decorated with the number 3 and DIY chopstick holders made from wine corks split in half.

Nishikawa expanded a year and half ago with the opening of 3 Stories Bar in Musashisakai, which is also a restaurant serving Italian food. Now busy running two different establishments, Nishikawa curently opens 3 Stories in Mitaka at 10 p.m. and closes it at 4.

Despite the late opening hours, regulars come in again and again to share their stories until the early morning.

3 Stories, Mitaka: 1F 2-13-9 Kyonan-cho, Musashino-shi; 0422-77-4448. 3 Stories bar, Misashisakai: 3-8-15 Shimorenjyaku, Mitaka-shi; 0422-45-0858. Angela Erika Kubo is a freelance writer and bar lover based in Tokyo. Follow her on Twitter @aekubo.