The boom in tachi-nomi (drinking while standing) bars continues unabated. At the traditional end of the spectrum are the rough-and-ready sake and shochu pubs. At the other extreme are more genteel establishments that prefer to call themselves sutando bars. The principles are the same -- no chairs; pay at the counter as you drink -- but the quality and the clientele are very different.
For the past year, our favorite example of the latter genre has been Buchi, a chic but casual bar out on the fringes of Shibuya's Shinsen district. Despite the less than convenient location, it's packed each night with a well-heeled crowd drawn not merely by the fine selection of premium sake (all in "one-cup" jars), well chosen wine and reasonably priced liquor, but also by the remarkably extensive range of food, both Japanese and Western.
It hasn't taken Buchi long to spawn a sister operation, this time in second-floor premises on the Aoyama side of Shibuya. The name, Bongout Noh -- from the French bon gou^t (delicious) coupled with "isn't it" in the owners' Hiroshima dialect -- may sound clunky, but don't let that put you off. This one is far more accessible and every bit as good.