When I heard of this drinking den below ramen restaurant Machiya, I had the image of a cool izakaya in mind. It’s certainly a down-to-earth place for a sake-based drink, but it’s lacking in any of the artfully-lit Japanese atmosphere I’d been hankering for. A few tall-backed, second-hand leather armchairs have been plonked in a narrow space that seems to act mostly as a thoroughfare for restaurant customers heading to the toilets. Otherwise, it’s about stark white walls and, quite frankly, a bit of a whiff in the air.
The happy hour threatened to make up for the dank setting, with house cocktails at two-for-one between 5pm and 8pm on weekdays. And the menu of original cocktails is a real feast from the Orient. A mightily refreshing Mio Spritz combined sparkling sake with Campari, while the Kawaii Ne (which means ‘cute’ in Japanese) contained junmai sake mixed with lychee and peach liqueur and yuzu juice, all topped off with a perfumey sake-yuzu foam and a pretty pansy head.
These original tipples deserve a setting that’s equally ‘kawaii’. But as it stands, this bar is acting on false eastern promises.