Author Topic: Tokyo?  (Read 6910 times)

Offline punatic

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4583
  • Puna District, Hawaii Island (UTC -10)
    • View Profile
Re: Tokyo?
« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2011, 07:20:52 AM »
Thanks for your blog.  It's enjoyable reading live updates.  How have the events of 3/11 affected life in Tokyo?  Is there much concern about radiation there?

Being sick while away from home is a drag.  Hope you feel better soon.



There is only one success: to be able to spend your life in your own way.


AHA Life Member #33907

Offline johnf

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 434
    • View Profile
Re: Tokyo?
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2011, 07:21:12 PM »
Thanks for your blog.  It's enjoyable reading live updates.  How have the events of 3/11 affected life in Tokyo?  Is there much concern about radiation there?

Being sick while away from home is a drag.  Hope you feel better soon.





No concern about radiation. I think the levels in Tokyo are lower than they are in Denver, for example. The biggest thing is everyone is trying to save power. The hotel restaurants close earlier than normal, at the office they leave the lights off in the hall, stuff like that.

I found a good english language blog about Japan that had a post on getting cold medicine, so I think I can get some today. I seem to be getting better. At least I am here for four weeks, if I went back this weekend it would have been a crappy trip between being sick and jet-lagged.

The big adventure this afternoon is going to the Tsujiki fish market for sushi. I may lay off the beer tonight as it is probably not helping my recovery.

ETA: I guess the potentially worst part about the power savings is the office building is setting the heat at 20C (68) and the A/C at 28 C (82.4). The weather has been mild so far though. It is a little hotter in the office than I would like but I am wearing suits and not really used to that. Japanese people like it warmer so the 20C is worse to them than the 28C. I'd love 20C personally, especially in a suit. Also the hand dryer in the restroom isn't running and they don't have paper towels. So you just carry a washcloth or whatever with you to dry your hands. That seems like an odd place to go after power savings (the hand dryer), but I can deal with it.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2011, 08:12:17 PM by johnf »

Offline johnf

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 434
    • View Profile
Re: Tokyo?
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2011, 07:40:21 PM »
Sounds like fun except for being sick.

What is the most unusual vending machine item you've seen?  I hear they put almost anything/everything in vending machines there.

Most vending machines are just water/tea/coffee drinks. I do find it interesting that a lot of the soft drinks are made by the big brewery and distilling companies (Kirin, Suntory, etc). I am pretty sure if AB-Inbev tried to sell soft drinks in the US someone would claim they were trying to lock kids into their brand or something.

I have seen beer and pornography in vending machines. No panties yet (that is the thing that sticks out in my mind as a weird vending machine item I had heard about in the past). One cool thing is that the vending machines in the train stations let you pay with your train card.

I did see a woman with a ferret in her purse last night...

So I went back to Popeyes. I was just there for a bit the other night and sat by an American. Last night there were zero Americans or Europeans other than me. I lucked out and sat by a guy that speaks pretty good English. I am pretty impressed by the beer geek culture in Japan. Lots of young women were drinking stuff like Rogue Yellow Snow IPA (I saw more women drink IPA last night than I do in a typical month at home, not counting my wife). People mostly do not order the same beer twice. The craft beers are generally very good. I don't think I have had a bad one yet and I have had several great ones. They definitely like hops and a lot of their beers are in the West Coast (US) style.

There is an English beer bar and a few Belgian beer bars that I might try but given how close it is and that it is the consensus best place in Japan I will go to Popeyes a lot. It also helps that the food is cheap. Before 8:00 PM you can get a free half plate of one of eight items if you buy a beer that has a crown by it on the menu (about a quarter of the menu, so 18 beers or so). Food is generally very expensive in Tokyo and I am on per diem so getting by cheap at Popeye's one night allows me to go for something higher end the next.

I talked to a few people who have been travelling on business to the US for decades and recall beer in the US being crap other than Anchor, Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada. I got a kick out of the idea of Japanese business men looking for a bar that had Anchor Steam in 1980. They said there used to be tons of breweries in Japan before WWII and then it was all Sapporo/Kirin/Asahi/Suntory until about 10 years ago. So very similar patter to what happened in the US with prohibition.

My favorite beer so far is a 2007 Hurricane Barley Wine that Popeyes had on draught. It was Madeira like, lots of dark fruit, huge silky body. Some of the online reviews mention hot/solvent but I thought the alcohol was well hidden for 15%. It was definitely warming but not solventy or harsh. Maybe the 4 years did it some good.

My second favorite is the Baird Divine Vamp III India Black Ale which I have had on both visits. I think I like it better than any "black IPA" I have had in the States. They have been making this for years (at least since 2006) so I guess we have to start calling black IPA Japanese Dark Ale. The Cascadians will be so disappointed.


Offline punatic

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4583
  • Puna District, Hawaii Island (UTC -10)
    • View Profile
Re: Tokyo?
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2011, 09:28:50 PM »

Before 8:00 PM you can get a free half plate of one of eight items if you buy a beer that has a crown by it on the menu (about a quarter of the menu, so 18 beers or so). Food is generally very expensive in Tokyo and I am on per diem so getting by cheap at Popeye's one night allows me to go for something higher end the next.


That is the custom here on the windward side of Hawaii Island too.  During pau hana (happy hour) many bars serve free puu puus with their pau hana beer specials.  Not chips, popcorn, and peanuts, but small portions of their menu items.  Very nice!  Unfortunately the beer specials are always BudMillerCoors Light.  Steinlager is pretty popular here too.  Yum... :P
There is only one success: to be able to spend your life in your own way.


AHA Life Member #33907

Offline euge

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8022
  • Ego ceruisam ad bibere cervisiam
    • View Profile
Re: Tokyo?
« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2011, 11:19:26 PM »

Before 8:00 PM you can get a free half plate of one of eight items if you buy a beer that has a crown by it on the menu (about a quarter of the menu, so 18 beers or so). Food is generally very expensive in Tokyo and I am on per diem so getting by cheap at Popeye's one night allows me to go for something higher end the next.


That is the custom here on the windward side of Hawaii Island too.  During pau hana (happy hour) many bars serve free puu puus with their pau hana beer specials.  Not chips, popcorn, and peanuts, but small portions of their menu items.  Very nice!  Unfortunately the beer specials are always BudMillerCoors Light.  Steinlager is pretty popular here too.  Yum... :P

I like this custom.

I've never had a bad Japanese beer, but then again never had one of their craft brews. Are they available in the States?
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Laws are spider-webs, which catch the little flies, but cannot hold the big ones. -Anacharsis

Offline johnf

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 434
    • View Profile
Re: Tokyo?
« Reply #20 on: May 14, 2011, 02:38:33 AM »

Before 8:00 PM you can get a free half plate of one of eight items if you buy a beer that has a crown by it on the menu (about a quarter of the menu, so 18 beers or so). Food is generally very expensive in Tokyo and I am on per diem so getting by cheap at Popeye's one night allows me to go for something higher end the next.


That is the custom here on the windward side of Hawaii Island too.  During pau hana (happy hour) many bars serve free puu puus with their pau hana beer specials.  Not chips, popcorn, and peanuts, but small portions of their menu items.  Very nice!  Unfortunately the beer specials are always BudMillerCoors Light.  Steinlager is pretty popular here too.  Yum... :P

I like this custom.

I've never had a bad Japanese beer, but then again never had one of their craft brews. Are they available in the States?

Hitachino Nest is and I believe Swan Lake as well.

Offline johnf

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 434
    • View Profile
Re: Tokyo?
« Reply #21 on: May 19, 2011, 05:09:49 AM »
Been laying off the beer this week. Other than an ill-advised Tuesday night when I got high on cough syrup and raided the mini-fridge (the mini-fridge only has six normal strength drinks so I wasn't hung over or anything, just not sure $70 for 2 Asahi, 2 Budweiser and 2 lemon drinks when I was trying to recover from a cold was a good use of money).

Tomorrow back to Popeye. Looking forward to seeing some of the friends I made last Friday night or, barring that, making new friends as it is very easy there (despite the fact that there are close to zero westerners).

Saturday is sushi at the fish market and Baird public house. I continue to be very impressed with Baird and I am excited to try a range of their products.

They remind me a bit of a Russian River (though no sours), Rogue, Victory etc in that they can make a very wide range of beer styles without missing on any of them (that I have tried yet).

Not to diss Hitachino Nest or Swan Lake, which are also outstanding, but I would love to see Baird distribute to the US.

Interestingly, in a demonstration of how the craft beer market here diverges from that in the US, Baird bought Asahi's brewing operation last month. They bought it outright, no debt financing, with income from their public houses. I thought this was a very interesting juxtaposition with the recent AB-Inbev acquisition of Goose Island.

Had sushi the other night for the first time (it is actually not that common to eat it here, most people eat it less than once a month). Great stuff, very fresh and good, at least as expensive as the US (surprisingly). The new thing I had that I really liked was called akagai. Sort of a red colored clam. Big fan, I'll look for that in the US in the future.

Had matsusaki beef at a teppanyaki restaurant tonight. I am a big believer in these Japanese beef rearing methods. The texture and flavor are incomparable to anything I have had at high end US steakhouses. It's nothing to do with the breed as I have had wagyu in the US.

I also saw my first live abalone (the group next to me ordered it). I pretty much knew what an abalone looked like, but had not seen one moving around before. Pretty cool.

Offline SpanishCastleAle

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 272
    • View Profile
Re: Tokyo?
« Reply #22 on: May 19, 2011, 06:48:25 AM »
How different is the sushi menu there?  Do they even have California rolls?

Do you know where the majority of the malt and hops they use come from?  Is most of it 'domestic' (to them)?

Offline johnf

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 434
    • View Profile
Re: Tokyo?
« Reply #23 on: May 19, 2011, 08:06:47 AM »
How different is the sushi menu there?  Do they even have California rolls?

Do you know where the majority of the malt and hops they use come from?  Is most of it 'domestic' (to them)?

Cali rolls? No, I've seen nothing like that. Maki are rare, compared to Nigiri, and more traditional (no mayonnaise etc) here.

Hops? No question they are getting American hops. Simcoe, Centennial, probably CTZ. Malt? No idea. I'll see what I can find out.

abrewcadabrew

  • Guest
Re: Tokyo?
« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2011, 02:20:12 PM »
Next time anyone's headed to Tokyo, let me know. I live here and there are plenty of places to go.

I'd be more than happy to help show you around.

Cheers.

Offline johnf

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 434
    • View Profile
Re: Tokyo?
« Reply #25 on: May 28, 2011, 12:07:12 AM »
Next time anyone's headed to Tokyo, let me know. I live here and there are plenty of places to go.

I'd be more than happy to help show you around.

Cheers.

Still here. At Baird Nakagemuro until about 8.

Any recommendations near suitengumae that are not Popeye? Not that I could not go to Popeye and the Baird taproom for a year and never tire of them.

abrewcadabrew

  • Guest
Re: Tokyo?
« Reply #26 on: May 28, 2011, 03:21:39 AM »
Next time anyone's headed to Tokyo, let me know. I live here and there are plenty of places to go.

I'd be more than happy to help show you around.

Cheers.

Still here. At Baird Nakagemuro until about 8.

Any recommendations near suitengumae that are not Popeye? Not that I could not go to Popeye and the Baird taproom for a year and never tire of them.

Baird Nakameguro - Nakameguro Taproom! One of my favourite haunts - be sure to visit Bashamichi Taproom in Yokohama if you can.

My immediate best recommendation is, check out my mate's website - he's listed all breweries in the Tokyo/Yokohama region, what they serve, personal opinions etc.

http://boozelist.blogspot.com/

How long are you in Japan? Could meet up with you for a pint if possible. And watch out for Monday, looks like a typhoon headed our way.

Cheers!

Offline johnf

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 434
    • View Profile
Re: Tokyo?
« Reply #27 on: May 28, 2011, 06:41:53 AM »
Next time anyone's headed to Tokyo, let me know. I live here and there are plenty of places to go.

I'd be more than happy to help show you around.

Cheers.

Still here. At Baird Nakagemuro until about 8.

Any recommendations near suitengumae that are not Popeye? Not that I could not go to Popeye and the Baird taproom for a year and never tire of them.

Baird Nakameguro - Nakameguro Taproom! One of my favourite haunts - be sure to visit Bashamichi Taproom in Yokohama if you can.

My immediate best recommendation is, check out my mate's website - he's listed all breweries in the Tokyo/Yokohama region, what they serve, personal opinions etc.

http://boozelist.blogspot.com/

How long are you in Japan? Could meet up with you for a pint if possible. And watch out for Monday, looks like a typhoon headed our way.

Cheers!

Yeah, I read that site and it seems like the best place that is a quick trip from suitengumae is Popeye. Been there half a dozen times and other than Divine Vamp III which I am in love with, haven't repeated a beer.

Typhoon does not sound good but my hotel is connected to the train station and I have about a 150 meter walk to work, so I should live.

I am here until a week from today (June 4). I work about a 10 hour day in Kinschicho (Olinas Tower) and stay in suitengumae so Popeye is best for me on weeknights as it as about 15 minutes door to door. I plan to hit Baird again tomorrow, was planning on going back to nakamegura. I think yokohama is a bit of a trek, is it really a different enough experience to make the trip?

I would love to meet for a pint. Popeye or anywhere else relatively near suitengumae is best for a weeknight. My flight is 5:35 pm Saturday so I should be able to leave from anywhere in greater Tokyo at about 3 and make it. If you can suggest a place to meet for a pint around lunch on Saturday, I should be able to make it.

Can't say enough good about Baird. They are right up there with the top tier of American craft breweries. They make a ton of beer and it is all very good.

I was telling my wife I am amazed that I have had around 50 beers in Japan and they range from good to outstanding. I honestly have not had a bad beer. I think if I went to an unfamiliar part of the US and went to brewpubs and beer bars I would probably have a few crap beers out of the first 50.

I had a lot of great beers at Baird today. The Belgian IPA was great (and I often don't like them) as was the Saison and both of the cask beers (ordinary and best bitter). I got samplers of the amber, brown and porter and they were all just great. Pretty much any US brewery would be proud to have those in the lineup.

Now I just have to talk them into distributing to the US, lol.

Offline johnf

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 434
    • View Profile
Re: Tokyo?
« Reply #28 on: May 28, 2011, 06:44:09 AM »
Okay, so they do real BBQ at yokohama, I think I might need to change my plans for tomorrow...

Offline johnf

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 434
    • View Profile
Re: Tokyo?
« Reply #29 on: June 21, 2011, 01:08:39 PM »
So I am going back on Friday for two weeks. Turns out there is a BJCP sanctioned competition the weekend I am out there a little less than 3 hours by transit from Tokyo. I emailed the organizer and offered to judge if score sheets in English are okay. If that doesn't work out, probably going back to Nakemeguro that Saturday.