It’s taken me almost two years to get back here, which is pretty bad considering that it is fairly close to where I live. Finally, I am able to add the other Ushi Tora to this blog. Thank you for your patience!
Ushi Tora 1 is the larger of the two bars, and the one that has seats, although not a great deal of them. There is space for about 10 at the long counter and probably just under 20 at a few tables. It’s a lot less bright than the other smaller bar and feels like somewhere you could settle in for a few hours. The hours are a bit different to the other bar though, so make sure you check. They serve some very nice Japanese food at pretty good prices, including quite a few things that were good for me as a vegetarian, which makes a nice change. Although I guess you are more interested in the beer.
So, beer. They have 20 taps and 3 handpumps. The selection had a lot more US stuff than I remember there being before, probably 1/3 of the taps were imports but the rest is Japanese craft. There didn’t seem to be many dark beers on (in fact only one when we were there) but there was a decent mix of styles. Apart from the dark styles of course! Not sure how representative of their normal line up this is. They post their taplist (for both branches) on their blog though so you can check before you go. It’s nice that they have different stuff in the two bars. Beers are generally served in two sizes, 270ml and 470ml with the usual variation for stronger beers. The prices vary from ¥680-¥880 for the smaller size and ¥950-¥1300 for the larger. The prices for imports are at the top end of this range and a little higher in some cases. This is probably the big drawback of the place. It’s expensive compared to other places around. Although, there isn’t much competition for them that close, which might explain it. The food is much more reasonably priced though, which seems to be the opposite of some of the places that offer cheaper beer.
Ushi Tora is something of an institution in the Tokyo beer scene. It’s been around for quite a while and a lot of people really like it. There’s also a few people who really don’t like it too, so it seems to be quite divisive! Personally, I have only had one bad experience there, in the second bar when I entered but was told they were closed even though it was after their opening time. I have to say the guy was pretty rude to me, but I won’t hold it against them as on every other occasion I have been there, the staff have been very nice. Guess I got the wrong person at the wrong time.
I have mixed feelings about this place. The food was really good and the atmosphere is nice. The beers tasted good, but the prices weren’t so pleasant. When we arrived I was shocked as I didn’t remember it being so pricy. Some of the Japanese beers seemed definitely overpriced. But after a couple of beers and some really good food I definitely warmed to the place. There’s no cover charge which softens the blow of the prices slightly. I have heard that they often get pretty special stuff in, which would be another good reason to visit, and it certainly has no shortage of admirers, as the place is always pretty busy. I will be going back (and this time I won’t leave it a year and a half between visits), and if you have never been, I would say it’s certainly worth you going to try it and see what you think.
Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Oh La Ho
Daily, 17.00 – 02:00
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 1 is along the walkway past Ushi Tora 2 on the second floor.