Conversations with Gen-san 

“I disappoint some first time visitors, I think” Gen-san says, “because everything isn’t made with rare whiskeys and the bar isn’t decorated with expensive spirits.” I hold up an imaginary shaker and swing it back and forth, “You don’t have big movements either.” I add. We laugh then he disappears into the back of the bar, returning with two bottles. Placing them in front of us he states rather matter of factly: “I have rare spirits too. I just do not use them for my cocktails.” 

Bar Gen Yamamoto is far from a typical experience. But for those who care about food, you will not be disappointed. There is no other like him, no place like his bar anywhere on this planet. 

Bar Gen Yamamoto
Drop this into Google Maps↓
東京都港区麻布十番1−6−4
アニバーサリービル1F
*reservations are required

office@genyamamoto.jp // 03-6434-0652

Embarking into the Depth of Tokyo

In the middle of the train wreck that is Roppongi, where the women dress scantily and the men freely catcall, there is a small alley way and an iron gate protecting an entrance to an ivy covered wooden door that swings open only with a security card.

A security card? Really? I wondered, as my host hits her card and we head down into the basement.

At the bottom of the stairs a young man in a crisp white shirt and bow tie greets us and escorts us into the room revealing a lair resembling an extra large sitting room filled with dark oak furniture, bookshelves and cushy chairs. Rows of whiskey, bourbon and cigar boxes line the bar. It is smokey and dark but I can make out well dressed couples at the tables, gentlemen in tailored suits sit at the bar, the conversation level a mere murmur and it feels like I’ve stepped into the private home in a New England estate. I can’t help but gawk.

“The master (head bartender/owner) is an expert in smoking foods” my host says, as she curls into one of the padded chairs.

I want to know everything about this place and the man but it’s only my first visit. Unraveling the depths will most likely take a while because this is Japan. Where everything takes time and double the effort…

*The name is withheld because I don’t know the name.

Conversations with Gen-san: Oishī

“Maybe the character for oishī (delicious) is beautiful「美しい」 and taste「味」because in the Japanese culture, we express appreciation for food in two parts: we note the presentation when something is first served, the taste, once we consume.” Gen-san and I wondered. “Makes perfect sense as utsukushī「美しい」is used when describing art and aesthetically pleasing things, followed by aji「味」flavors.” We both then nodded in agreement, satisfied by our conclusions of the etymology. Turns out that is not the case but it was surely fun to discuss. Always, always learn something new with each Gen-san visit and the reason his 8 seater bar is my favorite place in Tokyo. 

Bar Gen Yamamoto 

Drop this into Google Maps↓
東京都港区麻布十番1−6−4
アニバーサリービル1F

*reservations are required
office@genyamamoto.jp
 // 03-6434-0652

Gen Yamamoto in the Typhoon

11998852_10102683729481776_7093058892434291585_n

All we could do, is laugh. As we rush out of my favorite fish on sticks place* to hail a cab, the rain is coming down mean and hard. The sidewalks are overfilling with steep puddles and I swear I see Noah’s Arc with elephants and giraffes lined up two-by-two heading our way.

Should I call an Uber?” he asks. “This is Tokyo. Ubers are unnecessary.” I say. He looks back at me a bit skeptical and just when he was about to whip out his phone I spy an empty cab I successfully flag down. “See?” I say and he smiles, holds the umbrella up near the door as I rush in. Even with him shielding the rain with our shared umbrella, the downpour is so aggressive I’m immediately drenched. He climbs in after me making sound effects. He is wetter than I. We look at each other and laugh. The cab driver laughs — first at his gibberish, then with us as I say, “only thing left to do is laugh.

Continue reading

Bar Tram / Trench

Bar Tram / Trench are my favorite bars in my neighborhood — I recommend them to everyone. Pictured above is the absinthe drip, this particular one is Jade 1901. The green cocktail is a spring concoction, with a cucumber base and tons of other things that completely eludes me.

During the day, Tram does an amazing slow drip coffee. If you are a coffee lover, I highly suggest checking it out. The cocktails during the night time are also, one of a kind.

Bar Tram
Drop this into Google Maps ↓
恵比寿西1-7-13
Look for the sign that says “Bar Tram: Get drunk differently”, go up the stairs
*Always try Trench first at night