Today Bamboo, in a rarely visited (at least for me) area of Shinjuku. Bamboo has been on my list of places to go for a while, but I have only just managed to get there. Bamboo doesn’t have the biggest selection in Tokyo, but what it lacks in variety, it more than makes up for in atmosphere.
To get down to the basics, there are four craft beer taps at Bamboo, all priced at ¥700 for a half and ¥1100 for a US pint. When we visited there were three Japanese taps (Oze No Yukidoke, Oh La Ho and Baird) and one import (Rogue). There is also a selection of bottles and cans available, mainly US imports, but with a few Japanese offerings too. The place itself is on the small side, but in a way seems fairly spacious, as the seating is limited. There are around 6 counter seats and a couple of tables for three or four. The place felt quite Belgian to me, and being a Belgium obsessive, that is a great compliment. It was relaxed and comfortable, not overly bright and with subdued music; the type of place I would love to have in Yoyogi Uehara (I realise I say this kind of thing quite often, and at the moment, I would settle for anything in this area, but seriously, this kind of place would be great). The barman was friendly, helpful and very accommodating, adjusting some of the food items so that they were suitable for vegetarians. He was also helpful with descriptions of unknown beers. There was no hard-sell, just a desire to make sure that his customers had a good time, and this definitely contributed to the good experience.
I have no idea how busy this place gets during the week, but shortly after opening on a Sunday evening it was easy enough to get a seat. If you anticipate going at a busier time, it may be worth phoning to check. To be honest, I have no idea what this area is like during the week, so I am drawing a blank. I can’t really explain why I liked this place so much, but it just had a really good feeling about it. There are clearly places around that are cheaper and that have bigger selections, but Bamboo had something special, and it is something that is not so easy to put my finger on. There is also no cover charge, and people who want to smoke have to go outside, both of which suit me. Possibly it was just right up my street, and naturally I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it as a really nice place to go. It seems that they regularly post their taplist on their facebook page, so if you are flexible, wait till they have something on that you want to drink a few of, and head there and make a night of it. I’ll definitely be going back!
Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Oh La Ho
Oze No Yukidoke
(Bottles from Minoh, Oni Densetsu/Noboribetsu)
Daily, 17.00-24.00 (but worth phoning to check, as their website says ‘almost daily’, so I guess it is occasionally closed. Also some places list it as being open till 02.00, but I wouldn’t depend on this).
ダイアパレス新宿1丁目B-104, 1-31-3 新宿, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
We initially had a bit of trouble finding the place due to an incorrect location on a map we were looking at, and as it is a bit confusing here’s an extra photo of where you need to go down from street level. Bamboo is a little way from the main part of Shinjuku, but it is still walkable from there in around 15 minutes. The closest station is Shinjukugyoenmae on the Marunouchi line but Shinjukusanchome is only a little bit further. From Shinjukugyoenmae station, leave via exit 2 and turn left out of the exit. Take the first left and then the fourth side street on the left. Just after you turn look for the sandwich board advertising bamboo. There was also a Thai flag flying as there is a Thai restaurant in the same centre, so look out for this too. The bar is located in the basement so go down the stairs by the sign and you should see it on the first corner.