Away from the glare of more prominent chains, Ebisu has a thriving back alley (yokocho) dining scene. Once the closed door to this covered alley is breached, you enter a bustling scene of lively twenty-somethings chowing down at a score of diverse and tiny kitchens. One of the first you reach, on your left, is marked by a red lantern with the kanji stating ‘Jun-chan’. We don’t know if Jun is there or if she is indeed small, but her retro-styled izakaya is a specialist in Kyushu-style dishes. The laminated menu states – in Japanese only – whale meat and horse meat are on offer, prepared several ways. If this doesn’t take your fancy, try instead the bar snacks, which include karasumi (dried mullet roe), takana (a pickle of mustard greens) and mentaiko – in this case, cod roe marinated with bright red chilli, both salty and spicy. These bar snacks should waken your thirst, which can be slaked with one of the hipster choices of tipple at the moment – a shochu cocktail, created from vodka-like shochu in an ice-filled beer glass, mixed with a chaser of low-alcohol Hoppy beer. If your tastes are more orthodox there are draught beers too, including two slight variations of half-and-half – half dark beer, half light, poured one on top of the other into your glass.
Meal for two with drinks: from around ¥4,000