Wine that stands out


The idea of the wine specialist “stand bar” has been around in Tokyo for quite a few years, melding the blue-collar tradition of the tachinomi (standing-only) sake counter with the more contemporary enthusiasm for the fruit of the vine. But adding a proper food menu to that equation is far less common, least of all on the scale achieved by Fujiya Honten Grill Bar.

One of our longtime favorites is Buchi, a chic little watering hole on the westernmost fringe of Shibuya. Seven years old now, it still looks as sharp as when it first arrived on the scene, and just as welcoming. It also still has a surprisingly extensive menu for such a small space. The drinks list is split between wine (20 by the glass from ¥500; far more by the bottle, from ¥2,500), sake and shochu, and the food spans a similar divide, encompassing carpaccio, sashimi, stews, kushiyaki grills and three or four kinds of pasta.

Stand Bar Maru, over in Hatchobori, has a far longer pedigree. Set up by a long-established liquor store, it was one of the first tachinomi in Tokyo to offer wine and a good range of tapas-style snacks. Despite the out-of-the-way location, it’s always packed — not surprising given the affordable wine prices.

For a corkage charge of just ¥500, you can take your pick of any bottle on the shop’s shelves and drink it on the spot. Needless to say, the policy has proven hugely popular, and now Maru has expanded into the two floors above as well, each offering an increment in the cooking quality and service — plus seating.

Bon Marche Q looks too hip to bother with food, but this sleek little standing-only boite offers rather more than the basic bar snacks. There are always a couple of casseroles simmering on the counter, one with pork in a balsamico sauce, the other with Spanish-style tripe. And at the end of an evening of mostly liquid sustenance, we enjoy the wine-steamed hamaguri clams, served with rice to soak up all the briny juice. So what if Q only has a limited selection of wines? It’s just good to know we can eat and sip through the night, almost till the trains start running again.

Buchi, 9-7 Shinsen-cho, Shibuya-ku; (03) 5728-2085. Open 5 p.m.-3 a.m. Nearest station: Shinsen (Inokashira Line). Stand Bar Maru, 3-22-10 Hatchobori, Chuo-ku; (03) 3552-4400. Open 5-11 p.m. Mon.-Fri. Nearest station: Hatchobori (Hibiya and Keiyo lines). Bon Marche Q, 4-4-2 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku; (03) 5793-5591. Open 5 p.m.-4 a.m. (last order); closed Sundays and holidays. Nearest station: Ebisu (JR and Hibiya lines).