One of the great joys of sake tippling, especially after having searched the town for a while, is finding a new gem of a place. Just when you think you've seen just about any manifestation a sake pub could take, you stumble on something charming and warm, wondering how it could have escaped your attention for so long.

Usually, there is a catch. At Nakamura, the catch is not so bad: It's just a bit out of the way, that's all. Even that depends on your hassle threshold. It's about a seven-minute walk from Shimokitazawa Station, just as the myriad of shops begins to wane into residential. Not quite downtown Tokyo, but hardly the sticks.

At Nakamura, it's the atmosphere. It draws you in, although this is far from your average sake pub. It is dark, woody, modern and artistic -- romantic, even. The overall settled and austere feel seduces you right away. The clientele is generally younger and more hip than a pub in, say, Shinbashi or Kanda.