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Finally, a new blog post, after a brief hiatus where I returned to Europe for a little holiday and drank far too much for me to even want to think about beer for a while after returning to Japan. Today, Kraft Work in Ikebukuro which I have been meaning to try for a while, mainly because of the name. On my first attempt to visit, it was fully booked, so once again this is a place where you would be advised to book in advance or turn up just as they are opening. This is possibly the curse of the Tokyo Craft scene at the moment (along with, in my opinion, cover charges). There has been a lot of talk recently about the world Craft Beer scene reaching saturation point, but the fact that Tokyo places are always busy suggests that we are not there quite yet. Although, it could be that Japanese beer bars are usually a lot smaller than their European counterparts, and are generally more geared towards food and drink rather than drink and a little bit of food as you might see in the UK. Anyway, back on to the topic of the day…
Ikebukuro seems to have quite a lot of good places to drink nowadays, quite a few of which I still haven’t tried. Kraft Work was high on my list because of the fact that they do craft beer and craft sake (along with the name of course). On my visit though, I concentrated on the beer. They have 10 taps of craft sold in two sizes (275ml and 450ml). Stronger beers are just sold in the smaller size. The prices are not the cheapest around, the smaller glasses ranging from ¥650-¥750 and the larger ones from ¥1050-¥1150. All the beers were from Japanese breweries and apart from the decor (which is quite mod influenced and has lots of musical stuff round and about) the place does have a real Japanese feel.
The food is pretty much all seasonal Japanese dishes and not the regular cheap pub stuff and is again possibly a bit more expensive than other places in Tokyo, but the atmosphere is really nice. It is not the biggest of places (no surprise!) and there is seating for about 10 at a couple of counter areas and maybe 20 more at a range of tables. Pleasingly, the place is no smoking, but from time to time smoke does drift in from the smoking area outside the front door. Although given the smoking policy of some places in Tokyo, this is easy to put up with.
So, a place that I really liked, but with some reservations. The prices are not the cheapest (particularly the food) and you could say that the beer selection is not the widest but there was definitely good stuff to drink. And they do have a ¥300 cover charge. However, it does really have quite a special and unique feel. A lot of places in Tokyo could have been transplanted from elsewhere in the world, but Kraft Work has a real Japanese feel. Also there are a lot of places around that are really trying to be classy establishments, but sometimes feel a little bit sterile. Kraft Work is the opposite in that it feels comfortable and with lots of atmosphere, but with good quality stuff on offer. I will definitely be going back!Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Monday-Friday, 11.30-14.00, 17.00-24.00
Saturdays (and Sundays before a public holiday), 17.00-04.00
2F, 1-47-5 東池袋, Toshima-ku, Tokyo, 170-0013Telephone: