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May 19, 2014 02:05 PM

Tokyo Natural Wine / cocktail bars

Going to be staying in the Shiodome area of Tokyo and are looking for some suggestions on good natural wine bars. Read an article that mentioned Shonzui but wondering if there is anything else closer. Also any other wine / cocktail bar recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. I wish I could help with that part of town, but between Shonzui (which, btw, is only about 15 minutes by train from Shiodome station), Ahiru Store (aka my living room), Sajiya, Uguisu, and so on, it's hard to find a reason to leave the west side for natural wine bars.

    1. I suggest you check out Mardi Gras, near Shinbashi Station. Wachi-san worked at Shonzui's sister shop, Grape Gumbo (now closed), before opening his own bistrot, which stocks mostly biodynamic wine. Like Shonzui, the menu is meat driven and portions are incredibly generous. Wachi-san did his training at Hiramatsu, as well as several years in France where he honed his charcuterie skills. I can't vouch for the meat personally, thought my dining companions have always been well pleased, especially when the 'All Meat is Love Plate’ hits the table. He's a lovely man & a great host - he speaks English too.

      Lesser options for natural/bio wine in the area are IJ (Ichi-Jyoji), Coronilla, Desse, French Bar 3Vintheo & Wine Bar Bekkan. But if I couldn't get a booking at Mardi Gras, I'd rather jump on a train and head to elsewhere: Shonzui, Bunon or Gori, in Roppongi; Le Verre Vole or Beard in Meguro; Standing Bar Waltz, in Ebisu; or Ahiru Store, Libertin, or Sajiya in Shibuya; Meli Melo in Iidabashi, et al...

      1. Aside from what others have mentioned, a few other ideas in the Shiodome vicinity and the inner east side, all within 10~15mins of Shinbashi by train.

        Natural & Harmonic Himizutuchi (Ginza), not a wine bar per se, more of a health food restaurant with a reasonable bio/organic wine list. Lunch sets are very good value.

        La vigne a Table (Tsukiji) - also has a shop from where you can buy wine and, with corkage, have it with your meal

        Wine Bar Ame (Kayabacho)

        But Brasserie & La Pioche (Ningyocho), the latter being more hardcore 'natural'.

        Khadono (Shintomi), 6~8pm happy hour is very good value.

        Yumekichi (Kanda), an interesting mix of natural wines, nihonshu and kimono-clad service. A bit pricey, but worth it for a one-off experience.

        Avoid restricting yourself to the Shiodome area. Tokyo might look enormous on the map, but it doesn't feel that way thanks to its extensive/reliable train network.

        16 Replies
        1. re: DirtyDen

          I second La Poiche, Yumekichi & Ame. The owner of Poiche, Hayashi-san worked at Jean-Yves Péron in Savoie for a year, so has great knowledge of natural wine production. He's a character, too!
          Further north, La Guingette La Chevre, in Asakusa is a great casual option. Felicita, in Aoyama, Papier Doré, in Ebisu & Le Cabaret are also worth travelling for. BTW, Tsubo-san, the much loved maître d' at Shonzui, has moved to Le Cabaret.

          1. re: wekabeka

            Tsubo-san is great, I didn't know he'd gone.

            One more place - Lucky - the chinese/italian bbq joint with Shonzui roots. You need to bring your own atmosphere, but the wine list has some very interesting selections:


            1. re: Gargle

              Yes, I started a thread on Lucky a while back (posted while I was overindulging at the opening party), but you were the only one to reply. Obviously Cantonese food & natural wine isn't a popular combo... yet. Not sure where you're getting the "Italian" bit from, as Lucky is heavily influenced by Katsuyama-san's experiences in the Cantonese grill shops of Hong Kong and Guangdong.

                1. re: Gargle

                  No, but I very much enjoyed the brain cavity of the Cháozhōu whole grilled snapper - the eyeball sockets were particularly delicious.

                  1. re: wekabeka

                    The parmesan crust on the tripe was the Italian bit :)

                    Also, Katsuyama-san refers to it as such, although obviously it's much more Chinese.

                    1. re: Gargle

                      The dish is an adaption of the tripe served at Fook Lam Moon, where one of the chefs worked. Not sure if a sprinkling of parmesan on top of tripe kamayaki makes it an 'italian bbq joint', but each to their own.

                      1. re: wekabeka

                        I'm not sure either, which is why I didn't call it an italian bbq joint, but the owner expressed his interest to me in giving it an italian twist, so I took his word for it. I hope that explains things ;)


                        1. re: Gargle

                          I've honestly never heard Katsuyama-san mention anything about an Italian influence at Lucky; not in his opening night speech, subsequent conversations, nor in articles (the 4 page story in 食楽 13/10 is excellent). So, I thought it would be best to send a text & ask the man himself. And here is his response to your comments:


                          I hope that clarifies things for you, and that we can now get back onto the topic of this thread.

                          1. re: wekabeka

                            Well, maybe he was joking, or thought I was Italian (which is not uncommon). I really appreciate the effort in clarifying this very important point, even if it's unfortunate that the trippa is off the menu, it was nice.

            2. re: wekabeka

              Interesting to hear about Tsubo-san. He'll be missed.
              Speaking of Le Cabaret, their chef recently left to open his own shop, Tendre, in Kichijoji. Worth a visit just for that omelette!



                1. re: DirtyDen

                  I was just about to mention that we hadn't even started on the western suburbs yet, when I saw your comment. Good call! I like Kubota-san's little shop for lunch, but as the menu & wine selection are quite small, I favour Organ (sister shop of Uguisu), in Nishi-Ogikubo, for dinner.


                  1. re: wekabeka

                    you know I loved it when you took me to Bar Tender ... mmmm #Cocktails

                    1. re: foodiebuddha

                      Mr Uyeda (I'll never forget the y now) sure knows how to shake a gimlet!

                      1. re: wekabeka

                        I have the book i got right next to me as i type ... damn it i need to get back over there.