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Jul 22, 2013 12:55 AM

Fantastic new wine bar - Parabola

I went to a really great new wine bar in Nishiazabu called Parabola (see which opened a few weeks ago. One of the partners in the bar, Julian Stevens, used to work for Berry Brothers (oldest UK wine merchant) and has a fantastic taste in wine, which is reflected in the selection.

The wine bar has a very large number of wines, but for each day they put out a 2 page menu which contains a selection of those wines. I was told that in most cases, they only buy a dozen or so bottles of each wine, so each wine runs out pretty quickly, which means that much of the menu changes every day.

There are some fantastically well-chosen wines - it is a real wine lover's place. You won't find massive, blockbuster Napa oak monsters (urrrgh) which are sadly so popular these days. Instead the wines are very well made, elegant offerings from around the world. Very humane prices as well, plus what must be Tokyo's biggest cheese platter.

The place has only just started off so the people running it are what I would consider unsually flexible and generous. Hopefully that will last even after the place becomes better known, but if you like wine it is a good idea to go and pay a visit now. They are open every day except on Mondays, and one of the people running it told me that they only close when the last customer leaves (which apparently has so far varied between 3 am and 6 am).

Definitely worth a visit (though it is dangerously close to my home, which means I have been 3 times in very quick succession and am the worse for wear today).

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    1. re: Uncle Yabai

      It's a very different animal from Elevage. I really like both, but other than offering wine, they have literally nothing in common (except that they both serve Chateau d'Yquem by the glass, which is absurd - you'd struggle finding a place doing that in the whole of London, and here you have two places within 2 minutes' walking distance from each other doing that).

    2. Yes, I was excited to hear that Julian had set up his own bar/company. Looking at the online wine list, I was a little disappointed that it doesn't feature any NZ wine - surprising given that's one of his areas of speciality as well as his country of origin.
      What are the prices like? Is wine available by the glass?

      1 Reply
      1. re: wekabeka

        I was so busy scanning the varietals that I overlooked the clearly labelled prices - opps. So to answer my own question, both food and wine seem reasonably priced. I've cleared my schedule and made a date with one of those cheeseboards!

      2. Yes I have waded through the website also and before this gets too negative it looks like a decent venture worth checking out. However, yes there is a however, the website is hugely pompous - basically decreeing that the Tokyo wine scene become London and this be the vehicle - and there are NO prices mentioned for any of the wines. Go see. No prices, and to make note of the very interesting art on the pages of their list, NO prices listed, that is if you can find the names of the wines and good luck in doing so as it is a challenge. This is just the start of the mystique of the website which is in equal parts fascinating and frustrating, and did I say pompous? Let me be straight. Good wine list depending on price, interesting food menu depending on execution, space as of yet unknown - is this somebody's apartment? (yes I also waded through the photographs online), simplicity of offering/statement to the market, hell no! Give me a menu, a wine list, and cut the crap.

        10 Replies
        1. re: Markintokyo

          "Tokyo's elitist wine bar for the masses" - yikes.

          1. re: od_sf

            Maybe they should have called their place "Hyperbola" instead of "Parabola". By the way, saw that the bar is in that idiotic "Art Silo" building. That thing is vexed. It is a butt-ugly remnant of the worst architectural excesses of the late bubble period, and should be torn down. It has a dismal occupancy rate, and besides the original tenant (a bar called "The Drugstore", which was the Heartland of its day during the bubble, which meant it makes Heartland feel like a funeral parlor), it has been a succession of failures, the most notable being the Absolut Ice Bar, which was kind of cool (cold?).

            The "art galleries" in the round part of the building by the corner have never made a go of anything, so the hex is on. I wish them luck, because they'll need it.

          2. re: Markintokyo

            As I discovered, it helps if you read the menu:

            The July wine menu pdf (with prices for decanter, glass & bottle):


            From the full menu pdf:


            "...all wines on the list below JPY 10,000 are available by the 250ml decanter for 35% of the full bottle price. Subject to availability, all wines on the list can be purchased by the mixed / unmixed case (12 bottles) at a 20%/25% discount on list prices, delivery inclusive for orders over ¥10,000."

            1. re: wekabeka

              Thank you. Of the former, I had read the 'launch list' and fair enough it is updated and duly noted . Of the latter, still utterly 'spot the wine and guess the price', lovely as it looks nevertheless. Are you working for them and though this irks you must see that they are truly represented? If so you needn't try so hard. It is indeed correct that the wine establishments in Tokyo lead a lot to be desired so I will undoubtedly be paying this place a visit or two.

              1. re: Markintokyo

                Ha ha. No, I don't work for them. As you can tell from my previous comments, I haven't been there yet. Just trying to ease your angst.

                1. re: wekabeka

                  Angst eased. Why are they trying so hard I wonder?.. Their website reads more like a political manifesto than a restaurant menu... I've seen places like this come and go before.. Best go check the place out I suppose if I can get a table.

              2. re: wekabeka

                I want to go back to some of choice of the wine list !! The selection of 'Cote Rotie' is good, I am from the South of the France, and have to say that Cote Rotie Anger or Champin are very good selection ! I have to insist that the North of Vallee du Rhone are very different than others Cote du Rhone. Usually these wines are difficult to find, great !
                Thank you Wekabeka for the price list, I will surely go try it.

              3. re: Markintokyo

                Saying 'NO prices' in capital letters several times doesn't make it so. There are prices for the actual wines being offered (the monthly or daily menu, I forget, but in any event there is a menu setting out what wines are being offered, and at what price).

                There are things I like about the website but I agree that there are bits that come across as pompous. Their biggest issue in my view is not that though - it's the fact that as yet, they don't have a Japanese language website and Japanese bar staff. They need to japanise the whole thing and do so soon to stay afloat. (They are conscious of this but really need to move fast and employ a Japanese person or at least a fluent Japanese speaker soon.)

                1. re: Asomaniac

                  With those prices I can live with a little pompous, have to check this out next time I'm in Tokyo.

                  1. re: Asomaniac

                    I take back what I said about the Japanese aspect of things - they now employ Japanse staff and the wine list is being translated. Was back there again yesterday, fantastic stuff. A group of people did not enjoy a wine so they took it back and started selling it by the glass. A fantastic 1996 white Rhone marvel.

                2. Wow, that's an off-putting website. I'm sure it's a knock-off from some other wine bar in some other city, although I don't know the original :)

                  Wine prices seem good - more or less 100% markup to US retail prices, but the selection, while nice, doesn't quite live up to their pompous declarations, and also doesn't show much in terms of personal taste of the owners... high dbag potential. Will try to get there before the potential is realized.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Gargle

                    If you can, have a glass (or two) of 1996 Chateau d'Yquem in the terrace. Hic!