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5 Explore These Must-Visit Tokyo Izakayas

An Insider's Guide to Authentic Japanese Dining Experiences

By Atsushi TakakuwaPublished 3 months ago 5 min read

Introducing 5 Neo Izakaya in Tokyo. The term "Neo Izakaya" has become increasingly common in Tokyo. We will introduce a wide range of Neo Izakaya restaurants, from the most popular and royal restaurants to casual and easy-to-enter izakayas for the masses. Neo izakaya may not always be associated with the image of being Instagram-worthy, but all of them are particular about their food and drinks, so please check them out until the very end.

The first restaurant is "DRA Seven" in Shinjuku. It is a 7-minute walk from the west exit of Shinjuku Station, open from 11:00 to 24:00 on weekdays and from 16:00 to 24:00 on Saturdays and Sundays. The casual atmosphere makes it a good place to go with friends. The energetic staff creates a lively environment, and there's a 100 yen discount if you order drinks after talking to the waiter. The restaurant is popular, so reservations are a must. The main seating is at the counter, and there are many female customers in their 20s. The menu is exciting for women and has a good atmosphere, making it popular for a girls' night out. There are also special natural wines and a wide variety of original sours and other drinks.

Amuse in Nakameguro is the second restaurant, open until 23:00. It's incredibly popular, with reservations filling up within an hour of opening, especially among its young, predominantly female clientele. The restaurant's interior and menu cater to women, creating a café-like atmosphere with a unique feature of being able to enjoy alcoholic beverages. It's a great option for those who don't usually drink much or frequent drinking parties. The spacious interior features a stylish counter and various table seating arrangements, giving the restaurant a distinctive feel. The predominantly white color scheme and food presentation make it perfect for capturing beautiful photos. Amuse is highly recommended for those looking for new culinary experiences and creative drinks not typically found at other restaurants, making it especially appealing to non-regular drinkers and those unfamiliar with izakaya. With drinks priced between 500 and 700 yen, it offers an affordable option in Nakameguro. The cute neo izakaya-like appearance of the drinks, often served in illustrated glasses, is particularly popular with female customers. Additionally, the menu includes fun items like drinks served with fruit, ensuring an enjoyable experience at Amuse in Nakameguro.

The third restaurant is "Maguro Standard". This restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 4:00 PM to 11:00 PM. On Fridays, the opening hours are from 4:00 PM to 12:00 AM, and on Saturdays and Sundays, the hours start at 3:00 PM. I arrived just after opening on a weekday, so I was the first customer. The early weekday hours are quite relaxing, making it perfect for a drink with a light meal. Being an izakaya, the restaurant gets crowded after 6:00 PM. We visited without a reservation this time, but the waiter kindly informed us when we might be able to enter the restaurant. If it is late in the day, making a reservation before visiting is recommended. The clientele at Maguro Standard is diverse, including couples in their 40s and 50s, and a younger crowd that appears to be college students. Despite being introduced as a modern izakaya, the restaurant's atmosphere and food feel comfortable even for adults. Although the clientele does not appear too young, the restaurant's atmosphere is reminiscent of a typical izakaya. The front of the restaurant has counter seating for groups, while table seating lines the back wall, providing a spacious and warm interior. The atmosphere inside is lively, with a friendly izakaya vibe, and the restaurant is easy to spend time in due to its cleanliness and spaciousness. During this visit, we sat at the counter, where food is prepared right in front of you, creating a realistic atmosphere. The cooking table at the counter was adorned with a variety of summer vegetables, creating a pleasant seasonal atmosphere. As the name suggests, Maguro Standard specializes in tuna and offers a rare menu item called Tuna-Yakiniku, not found in other restaurants. If you are a tuna lover, this is a restaurant not to be missed, as it offers a variety of tuna dishes and new menu items to try. If you enjoy tuna, consider visiting this restaurant with friends or for a date.

The fourth restaurant, Taishu-Sakaba Rain Color, is situated at Gakugei Daigaku Station and operates from 17:00 to 24:00 every day. The vibrant staff ensures a lively atmosphere, and the establishment quickly fills up after opening. Reservations are essential after 18:00 due to the early rush of customers, who range from young adults to families. The diverse food menu caters to all ages and genders, and the open layout invites passersby to step in. With a central counter and standing area, the restaurant exudes a welcoming izakaya vibe. The retro exterior and modern interior make it a great spot for a stylish date. Taishu-Sakaba Rain Color offers great value, with kushiyaki skewers priced affordably. The visible grill adds to the authentic dining experience. This versatile restaurant is recommended for those seeking a casual yet stylish dining option.

The fifth restaurant, "Meshiya Hiroki Club Shinjuku," can be found just a 6-minute walk from the West Exit of Shinjuku Station. Operating hours are from 11:00 to 23:00 Monday through Friday and the day before national holidays, while on weekends and holidays, it's open from 16:00 to 23:00. During my visit at around 18:00 on a Saturday, the restaurant was surprisingly quiet despite having four tables, only half of which were occupied. The clientele mainly consisted of couples on dates and women in their 30s and 40s visiting in groups of two or three. The restaurant's interior boasts a serene, wood-grained decor, creating a sophisticated atmosphere suitable for various occasions such as business entertainment and dates. It offers counter seats with a lively atmosphere overlooking the open kitchen and completely private rooms. Situated in a secluded area on a main street with no nearby stores, the restaurant exudes a hideaway-like ambiance that is sure to pique the interest of first-time visitors. The establishment is particularly recommended for those seeking a relaxing drink on a date or a casual night out with friends. It's worth noting that there is a limited dining time of two hours, so it's advisable to be mindful of this before visiting. While we have highlighted several restaurants in the west exit of Shinjuku, there are many hidden gems waiting to be discovered. One of the standout dishes at this restaurant is the crispy fried horse mackerel, a must-try specialty. Additionally, the Negishio Wagyu Yukke (Japanese beef yukke) is highly recommended for its robust flavor and the delightful crunch of green onions. Each of the five restaurants featured here possesses unique characteristics, making them distinctive from typical izakayas. I hope that my readers will have the opportunity to patronize these establishments and appreciate their distinctiveness.


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