The second Ise Kadoya Tokyo taproom has been open a little while now but I’ve only just managed to make it there. The first branch is in Yaesu, so dead in the middle of salaryman territory. The second is on the 14th floor of the Takashimaya department store in Shinjuku (although strictly speaking it’s actually Shibuya if you go by the address). I’m not sure if salarymen who work in Shinjuku would head to the top floor of a department store after work so I don’t know if it’s normally busy. But on a Saturday evening in a time with increasing Corona numbers, there were quite a few free tables. Ise Kadoya is a brewery that you see around quite a bit (admittedly usually at lower prices…), so if you’re planning to go here it will probably be for the other selling points that I’m about to go into to. Here’s what you need to know:
– Some people might be put off by the sound of department store food court beer bars, but to be honest, it’s a very different experience than what that combination of words might conjure up in other countries. Generally speaking I find them pretty good. This place is quite sophisticated so immediately I felt a little out of place. It’s slightly weird to say it, but it felt like a cross between a Japanese restaurant and a Belgian bistro when it came to feel and decor. That description probably isn’t very useful, but the place exuded a bit of class but didn’t feel too stuffy. If you’re lucky you might get a seat by the big window with a very nice 14th floor view of the Tokyo skyline. There are a lot of tables (maybe 50 or 60 seats) and a long u-shaped counter, but for me the winners are the ones by the window. I guess its probably OK to just go here for drinks, but it did feel like a restaurant to me so probably not one for a massive group on a pub crawl.
– On to the booze, as it’s an Ise Kadoya tap room it will come as no surprise to hear that the beers on tap and in bottle were all from Ise Kadoya. (Well apart from a couple of macros). There were five taps served in US pint and and 260ml (approximate UK half) size. Prices ranged from ¥1280-¥1380 for the pints and ¥770-¥850 for the halves. They also had a selection of their bottles available. There were six on the menu and a notice saying you should ask the staff about others available. When we were there, there were no others, but if they’ve written that in the menu I guess that there usually are. Prices for the bottles ranged from ¥770-¥1210, the higher end being the once rare but now ubiquitous Neko Nihiki. They also offered a beer flight of three 180ml glasses for around ¥1500 (I think, I didn’t write it down…). Along with the beer they have a big old load of other delicious boozes. Our small group finished off with shochus and umeshus. As I know nothing about either of these things, apart from the umeshus were nice, I’ll not comment on their prices or qualities.
– There is some daytime opening, but it is of the ‘closes mid-afternoon’ variety so either go for lunch or dinner during the week. At the weekend you’re good to go all day. There’s no cover charge and no smoking. I forgot to check for wifi but as it’s in Takashimaya there almost certainly is some.
I have to say this was a very nice experience, but probably more from an experience and food point of view than from a beer point of view. Not saying there is anything wrong in that respect, but there aren’t a huge amount of taps and the beers are definitely more expensive than elsewhere. But then again, prices are creeping up everywhere recently it seems. The food was great and the other drinks were very nice so I’d say they share at least equal billing with the beer. And the view was fantastic. But I do like a view so maybe that’s just me. Certainly it’s not for you if you’re on a budget and want to just sink some quick beers. But I would definitely go back for a special occasion. I suspect that as nice as the food was for me, for meat and fish eaters, it might be even better.
Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Monday-Friday, 11:00-15:00, 17:00-22:00
Saturday, Sunday & holidays, 11:00-22:00
千駄ヶ谷5-24-2, 新宿タカシマヤタイムズスクエア14F, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
I tried to make the usual map but it wasn’t playing ball and the route it was suggesting was kind of ridiculous. Basically, if you go out of the New South Gate of Shinjuku JR station you’ll practically be in front of the massive Takashimaya department store so it’s quite difficult to miss it really.