Shibuya is not a neighborhood where you head for haute cuisine. But all that window-shopping, people-watching, hanging out and having fun can be hungry work. So it's good to have a few places up your sleeve that offer sustenance and respite from the crowds and noise. Maishin is one to add to that list.

It comes as a relief to find somewhere that's calm, aimed at an adult demographic and serious about its food and drink. Not that you're likely to stumble unaided on this cozy basement izakaya, despite its location just a few minutes' walk from Shibuya's stations and retail emporiums.

The clue is the sugidama, a large ball of cryptomeria needles hanging above the stairs that descend steeply to Maishin's heavy timber door. This is the traditional sign that here you will find superior sake and, with it, good food and staff who understand what they are serving.