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Jude Brand
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
Aug 11, 2002
FBI -- why not give it a shot?
Fifteen years ago, Shokuan-dori was a dark no man's land trapped in the vacuum between Kabukicho and Shin-Okubo. The latter, at that time, was an area buzzing with life as it gained momentum as headquarters for Tokyo's non-Japanese Asian foreigners. But it wasn't until several years later that a few...
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
Jul 28, 2002
He's got jazz izakaya to an art form
Many newly opened bars and stores proudly display their year of establishment on the signage out front -- even if it just opened. Vagabond, a funky jazz izakaya in Shinjuku, is no exception. The signboard outside proudly boasts "Tavern Since 1976." When I arrived in 1981, this made me laugh. But now...
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
Jul 21, 2002
Whet your appetite
If you know Bourbon Street, the New Orleans-style restaurant in Roppongi, chances are a friend introduced you. Sohan Ahluwalia vowed that he would never directly promote his restaurant but would let satisfied customers spread the word. And it worked. Sohan has put his heart and soul into creating his...
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
Jul 14, 2002
Where the surf's always up
Drunkard is an older form of the noun "drunk," which, according to my Concise Oxford English Dictionary, means "deprived of proper control of oneself by alcoholic liquor." Unlike its modern shortened form, it is not a word one hears used much these days, which gives it a slightly old-fashioned, almost...
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
Jul 7, 2002
The lord of the dance
To Tokyo clubbers, the name Pylon conjures images of overly tanned and underdressed young women teetering precariously on high clogs as they dance para-para style -- glow sticks in hand -- atop a bar (or other elevated surface). And at their center will be a handsome young man, shirt slipping off his...
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
Jun 30, 2002
Back to lounge life as usual
"Live the life" is a motto that has worked for Mi-chan. Having begun her days as an assistant photographer, she soon discovered that she much preferred socializing. So when two of her favorite hangouts closed (Jirocho in Ebisu, and MC1000 in Shinjuku), she and party cohort Gera decided to open their...
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
Jun 16, 2002
Now that's the winning spirit
Like many, I have been bitten by World Cup fever -- though in my case that means prowling Roppongi looking for postgame action. While the English converge at Sports Cafe, throngs of Irish -- and an equal number of police -- have become a fixture every night in front of Paddy Foley's, regardless of whether...
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
Jun 9, 2002
What's red, red and very, very sexy?
Red is an electric color. It incites bulls to charge and people to revolt. It is the color under which more than one country (and soccer team) rallies. It is the color of lust and passion. Red is provocative, but the emotion it evokes depends on the person and, sometimes, on the time of day.
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
Jun 2, 2002
Permanent collection of cool
Ebisu is not only full of little bars, it is full of similarly named bars, which can make things pretty confusing. Within a 50-meter radius, there's E, E-Cafe, Fura and Furo Furo -- see what I mean? So before we start, let's clear up a few things. E-Cafe is a cute 'n' cozy second-floor perch overlooking...
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
May 26, 2002
Where to get your kicks
As Japan braces itself for the influx of soccer fans, the media is keeping a careful eye on potential hot spots -- including Roppongi, Tokyo's gaijin HQ. Though no World Cup matches will be played inside Tokyo, Roppongi is expected to take the brunt of post-game soccer fans out to celebrate their wins...
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
May 19, 2002
Something close to home
Some of Tokyo's best little bars are hidden on tiny back streets in quiet residential neighborhoods. They are the kind of bars that one only discovers by living nearby -- or being taken there by someone who does. So when a friend called suggesting an outing to one of his favorite bars on the outskirts...
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
May 12, 2002
The song remains the same
Finding Endorphin for the first time was like unraveling a mystery. Word of mouth is an excellent source of leads, but sometimes the modern-myth syndrome kicks in as the word is passed along. The stories I accumulated for what I thought was one little rock bar in Jiyugaoka turned out to be for two bars...
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
Apr 21, 2002
Whip me with your best shot
A frequent visitor to Tokyo for the past 20-plus years asked me whether I thought S/M was on the rise in Tokyo. The answer is both yes and no. Hardcore S/M bars have been discreetly operating throughout that period, but as with all specialty bars, they are controlled by a strict members-only door policy,...
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
Apr 14, 2002
Not that Nobu, just the opposite
Mention the name Nobu to most jet-setters and they will recall the international restaurants serving "nouvelle Japonais" cuisine. The one in Tokyo occupies a sprawling, bungalow-style structure that hogs an impressive chunk of street front on Roppongi-dori near Shibuya. But what all the globe-hopping...
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
Apr 7, 2002
One love, one heart, one glow
Shinkukan is a DJ bar and lounge that has slipped quietly into a curious niche in Tokyo's nightscape. Operating like a ninja, with stealth and under the cloak of darkness, it stole into a small basement in a quiet semi-residential area on the Jingumae side of Omotesando. It's not the greatest location...
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
Mar 31, 2002
A hundred reasons, but one will do
By the time you read this, the last blossom may have already fallen from the deep banks of cherry trees that line the Meguro River as it sweeps through the back streets of Naka-Meguro. If not, then you are in luck. And you should put down your newspaper -- right now -- and head over to Cento Cose, a...
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
Mar 24, 2002
Like a rolling stone but harder
Enter the words "rock" plus "Shinjuku" into the search engine of Tokyo's communal consciousness, and the result, "Rolling Stone" -- a rock 'n' grot dive of more than 20 years' standing in that neighborhood -- will always come back at the top of the list. Even Eggey, the owner of two hardcore Shinjuku...
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
Mar 17, 2002
There's inspiration around every corner
Nearly every expat in Tokyo knows Las Chicas, the hip neo-Asian garden restaurant that sprawls across the first floor of the Vision Network complex near Omotesando. But many may not realize that there is more to Vision Network than a Thai curry lunch special. A quick peek into the corners of the rambling...
LIFE / Food & Drink / BEST BAR NONE
Mar 10, 2002
Bartender, can you make that a double?
I was once asked to invent a list of bars with brief descriptions as part of an April Fool's joke for a magazine. In fact, one of the bars I included did (and still does) exist. But it was one I had not been able to review, because the master refuses publicity in order to maintain exclusivity. So I gave...
CULTURE / Music
Mar 10, 2002
They're simply the bomb
When Ozomatli played on the closing night of Fuji Rock Festival 2000, they emptied out the Red Marquee. The hundreds of safety-pin punks, rag-head ragamuffins, permanent-press mods and glow-stick ravers had disappeared -- last seen following the band. Like a soccer team of drum-toting Pied Pipers, Ozomatli...

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