Saturday, May 1, 2010

Baird Taproom, Harajuku

This could seem like a public service, posting something about a very American-style micro brewery and their central-Tokyo brewpub outlets (Harajuku and Nakameguro), but based on the traffic yesterday, when Swannie and I spent 6 hours perched on their stools (holy shit, 6 hours?!), every foreigner in Tokyo knows about this place already. I was the only one who hadn't visited yet. It's very worthwhile.

The variety is a strong point - there are 15-ish beers on tap all the time (I think 9 year-round and 6 seasonal / specialty). The service, oddly, is also a strong point. For some reason, I was having one of those "If tips were allowed in this country, I'd be really happy to tip you here" moments.

The atmosphere is very stone-and-raw-wood, with interesting paintings, and I agree that the TV would be distracting if one were seated with a view of it.

Please expand the picture for a view of the 9 year-round beers. Need any pointers? Please ask Swannie or me. 6 hours gives you plenty of time to play with, and we, errr, we got through, errr, the whole list. Thanks mate.

For me, the standout was the Numazu Lager; the crazy IPA at the bottom (just off the picture) was enormously hoppy and flowery and thus memorable, but it was already 5 hours into the experience so I'd probably have to go back to give you a strong rec otherwise. All the beer was obviously at a very high standard; you can get that from other Japanese craft brewers, but there aren't that many of them (increasingly though).

Yessssss, tasteeeeee.  I forgot to say, they have hand-pumped beers too, if you like that kind of thing. I do, and I suppose that means a return visit is in order.

But you know, this isn't 'Drinking Out in Tokyo', so let's look at the food. There's a regular menu with a yakitori focus, and then a page of specials; we got some of each.

Korean style cold tofu. I think I told someone only a week ago that I would never order hiyayakko, and here I went and did it. It was nice, what with the kimchee, the sesame oil, and the seaweed.

Grilled veg; asparagus, zucchini, miso-eggplant.

Fried chicken, probably the best single item. Nice beer batter crust.

Beer chashu (I'm not just putting 'beer' in front of everything. They really said it on the menu.). Competent, and lightly grilled before serving, which is how god intended it.

Shishito, mostly because I liked the picture.

Chorizo, and fresh tomato in the back. These chorizo were incredibly spicy for Japanese sausages, which is to say "just about right".
And finally some chicken bits. The tsukune were very good and wiped out any disappointment that I felt with the tsukune on Wednesday. Oddly, they had a LOT of cartilege mixed in, but ground up very finely so it was almost like texture rather than disturbing crunch. If I keep eating things like this for long enough, I'll be voluntarily tucking into a plate of nankotsu before I know it.

Tap a kidney.


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