Food & Drink | TOKYO FOOD FILE

Gold’n Bub: Quality pub grub to match the beer

by Robbie Swinnerton

Contributing Writer

When Tokyo craves beach time, as often as not it is Shonan that’s the destination of choice. This stretch of coastline facing out onto Sagami Bay in Kanagawa Prefecture offers sand, surf and no shortage of sun in midsummer.

It also boasts breezes off the ocean and sunset views of Mount Fuji. But, above all, Shonan is about the laid-back lifestyle. It’s a place where entrepreneurs shun business suits, people prioritize family not overtime, and quality food and drink don’t necessarily come in fancy packages. Case in point: Gold’n Bub.

This compact, easygoing brewpub close to Chigasaki Station has steadily built up a loyal local following since moving here two years ago from nearby Tsujido. Even on a weekday evening, the 14 seats around the bar are likely to be full, and so too is the 10-person communal table at the back of the room.

For most, the primary draw is the beer. The majority is produced on-site, in the gleaming tanks of the Barbaric Works microbrewery you see through the picture window at the back of the pub. On any given day, manager Kenji Konishi and his youthful crew keep 10 beers on tap (one on a real ale hand pump). They range from easy-drinking pale ales, saisons and session IPAs to heavier, higher-octane brews that are intended to be sipped rather than quaffed.

As the word gets out, a growing number of craft beer enthusiasts are making their way down here from Tokyo and even further afield. Many of them are finding there’s another compelling reason for lingering and returning: Gold’n Bub also serves excellent food.

For such a cramped kitchen — the cooking is all done inside the limited bar space — the menu is extensive, remarkably creative and many notches above usual pub-grub levels. Certainly you’ll find chips and salsa, Buffalo wings and plenty of other bar favorites, but they’re all executed to an enviable standard.

Take the fish and chips: The butterflied fillets of aji (horse mackerel) are breaded rather than batter-fried so they’re crisp and light. The potato wedges are dusted with mixed herbs and served with an excellent homemade tartar sauce. Ditto the sausages, which are also made in-house before being pan-fried and paired with a colorful array of local vegetables.

The long list of daily specials currently includes delicate whole ayu (sweetfish) confit; beautiful blue-gray nagarami sea snails from the Chigasaki coastal waters; a sophisticated “salad” of white peach, mizunasu eggplant and chicory leaf; and a very satisfying roast lamb plate.

Chef Ryota Sugiyama was trained as a patissier and has a very deft hand. He makes his own tacos, pressing small disks out of masa (cornmeal dough) that he prepares from scratch. Come autumn he will likely be serving fritters of fresh chestnuts drizzled with honey and accented with chili powder and cacao nibs.

And you should definitely save space at the end of the meal for his wickedly boozy rum babas, which he likes to infuse with a liqueur made from tea and plenty of kirsch.

Bar snacks from ¥380, main dishes from ¥980; beer from ¥600; Japanese menu; little English spoken