The entrance to SG Low, on the second floor of a nondescript building just past Tower Records Shibuya, is an unmarked wooden door that could be mistaken for a broom closet. But it opens onto a cavernous space anchored by a theatrically lit bar. A giant metal lamp shaped like a koinobori (carp streamer) hangs from the ceiling; the light that streams from the crevices of its carved fish scales shines on plates of karaage fried chicken and sushi handrolls.

As the kimono-clad host leads me to my seat at the counter, I’m struck by a feeling of nostalgia. Maybe it’s the music, a party soundtrack that swings from ’90s hip-hop and house music to Latin rhythms. Perhaps it’s the fact that one patch of wall plastered with kitsch Japanese stickers reminds me of the graffiti-covered interior of Decibel, the iconic punk-rock sake bar in New York’s East Village. The overall effect is that of a speakeasy-style izakaya (Japanese pub), filtered through the aesthetic of a Wes Anderson movie.

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