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Ushi Tora, Shimokitazama

11 August 2009

I have to confess, I never used to like Ushi Tora – the place was smoky and the atmosphere reminded me of Kirin City more than anywhere else.

Ushi Tora 1

Ushi Tora 1

Then Ushi Tora 2 opened – and Ushi Tora 2 changed everything.

The taps at Ushi Tora 2

The taps at Ushi Tora 2

Ushi Tora 2 is just two doors along from Ushi Tora 1 – but it couldn’t be more different. A tiny friendly standing bar, it squeezes in around 15 taps into a space no bigger than the smallest studio apartment. Most importantly, it’s smoke free.

Between Ushi Tora 1 and Ushi Tora 2, there are over 30 beers on tap – a mix of Japanese and import beers, and easily Tokyo’s second biggest range (only Popeye has more.) The system is a bit weird though. Each Ushi Tora has around 15 different beers with no beer available in both bars. You can only order the beers available in the Ushi Tora that you are currently in, and you can’t carry beers between bars. It’s a bit of a pain in the neck, but in honesty, with Ushi Tora 1 being filled with smoke, I tend to stay in Ushi Tora 2 unless there’s some extra special beer that I must drink in Ushi Tora 1.

Ushi Tora’s website is here, and it’s updated daily with the draught list – very nice! Phone number is: 03-3485-9090. Ushi Tora 2 is closed on Mondays; Ushi Tora 1 is open every day.

Ushi Tora is a bit difficult to find. The Google maps link is here, but in words: from the south exit of Shimokitazawa station, turn left under the tunnel and walk until you come to the supermarket. Take the alley to the right of the supermarket and Ushi Tora is in the building at that back. Both Ushi Tora 1 and 2 are on the second floor.

My opinion? Ushi Tora 2 has become one of my favourite places to drink – decent beer and smoke free with a friendly atmosphere where you can get to talk with the local Japanese. I usually hit Beer Rock before or after for some food though because I don’t particularly like eating in the smoke filled Ushi Tora 1 and there’s not much I want to eat in Ushi Tora 2.