Uchi-Kanda has always been one of Tokyo’s most colorful carousing districts. Just to the north of buttoned-up Otemachi and Marunouchi, its narrow streets are lined with low-budget eateries and boisterous izakaya taverns. Hotaru fits in perfectly but with one key distinction: It is Tokyo’s first (and currently only) sake brew-pub.
You can see the small steel fermentation tanks gleaming in a glass-enclosed chamber in one corner of the minimally decorated dining room. But don’t arrive expecting to sip on brews that are delicate and refined: Hotaru makes doburoku, an unfiltered sake that is thick and milky white, and packs plenty of alcoholic punch. A good range of quality sake from breweries around Japan is also available.
The food menu focuses on seafood, with sashimi and other classic izakaya dishes like buri-daikon (simmered yellowtail and daikon), ni-anago (simmered conger eel) and gyūtan (ox tongue grilled with miso). Prices are very reasonable, with all-you-can-drink specials three days a week (Monday, Tuesday and Saturday: ¥2,000/two hours). In warmer weather, with the glass doors opened up to the street, there are few better places to relax in this vibrant nightlife area.
Open 5-10:30 p.m. (LO); Sat 4-10 p.m. (LO); closed Sundays and holidays. Little English spoken. For more details, visit www.sake-hotaru.com.