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Timing and location are everything. For the Tokyo-based German beer pub Schmatz, both were in perfect alignment when its latest branch opened in Nakameguro, overlooking the sakura (cherry) trees lining the river just as they were about to blossom.

Over the past five years, this rapidly growing chain has been popping up all over the Tokyo area. This, their 14th location, is the biggest and buzziest to date. And for Christopher Ax and Marc Luetten, the two young Germans who founded Schmatz, it represents a full turn of the circle.

Nakameguro was where they started out, serving sausages from a riverside food truck. Now they’ve taken over the prime premises that formerly housed Salvatore’s Italian restaurant, and even installed their head office upstairs.

New location, better wurst: Schmatz has over half a dozen sausages on its menu, alongside classic German bar foods and locally brewed craft beer.
New location, better wurst: Schmatz has over half a dozen sausages on its menu, alongside classic German bar foods and locally brewed craft beer. | ROBBIE SWINNERTON

The menu is much the same as at their other branches. There’s still plenty of charcuterie and sausages — over half a dozen different kinds — along with schnitzel, curry-wurst and the like. It’s far from artisan quality, but the lagers and dunkels are custom brewed by local craft beer houses and all are worth drinking.

In German, schmatz is the word for smacking your lips in pleasure, or giving your grannie a kiss on the cheek. Perfect onomatopoeia for a few fun-filled hours celebrating the change of seasons.

Beer from ¥650; side dishes from ¥500; smoking area on the first floor; English menu; English spoken

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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