[For your information, Ushi Tora 1 has now moved. Please check here for the new listing]
Perhaps common sense would have said that I should put both Ushi Tora bars together, but I think they are very different places so here is part one, which for some reason starts with bar 2. Ushi Tora 2 is the much smaller one room standing bar that you come to before you get to the main Ushi Tora. There’s not much room here, but given that it is a standing bar, you are probably not meant to hang around for too long. Unfortunately, they do normally have a very good and interesting beer list though, which does encourage you to linger. They have around 15 taps, one of which is draught sake, and the rest tend to be interesting Japanese micros. However, they do have themed tap takeovers, so sometimes there may be a few imports from an interesting brewer. The big draw is that they do seem to get things here that other bars don’t. On my last visit there were a few that I had never come across, and some one year aged versions too.
The place itself is cosy, unsurprisingly given the size. There are a lot of comic books, some Japanese kids toys, and some bewildered looking goldfish. They have an English translation of the menu available, and I think the staff are probably able to speak some English. If you are coming to Shimo Kitazawa to visit the main Ushi Tora, it is definitely worth saving some time for a couple in the smaller branch. Both branches have different opening times so it is worth checking both will be open before you come. Ushi Tora 2 is closed on Mondays, but open earlier than the main branch at weekends, and they sometimes extend opening hours on public holidays.
Possibly the one drawback is the prices, which are a little over the normal in Tokyo. But if you balance this with the interesting selection it balances out somewhat. Serving sizes are generally US pint and half pint sizes. Half pints range from ¥650-¥750 and pints from ¥1150-¥1300. The one import when I was there was the Schelde brewery’s Hop Ruiter which was ¥850 a half and ¥1500 a pint. Draught sake was ¥900, but the serving was quite big.
So, definitely worth the trip out to Shimo Kitazawa. Just a shame that there is no other craft places in the area at the moment. And Shimo Kita is quite an interesting area to wander around with lots of interesting shops (lots of record shops particularly) and cafes and restaurants.
Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Closed Monday, Tuesday to Friday 15.00 – 23.30, Saturday and Sunday 11.30 – 23.30
三久ビル2F, 北沢 2-9-3 Setagaya, Tokyo, 155-0031
Firstly, you need to get to Shimo Kitazawa station. You can either take the Odakyu line that runs from Shinjuku, or the Keio Inokashira Line from Shibuya. On both lines, local and express trains stop at Shimo Kitazawa. From the station, exit via the South gate. Turn left immediately out of the gate, , and follow the road round. You’ll soon see a supermarket ahead of you, and a level crossing on the left hand side. Turn right here and then the first left. Carry on to the next right turning, but do not turn the corner. If you look ahead of yourself now you should be able to see the view of the bar that is in the picture above. Both Ushi Tora bars are on the second floor of the white building immediately ahead of you. The stairs are on the right hand side and Ushi Tora 2 is right by the staircase on the second floor.