I had been enjoying my time in Japan but had desperately wanted to explore a nice little hole in the wall place. Tokyo is known for all its tiny little bars and restaurants and I wanted a piece of that experience. McTigger’s cousin decided to take us to Sengen-Jaya, not a touristy spot by any means but it was exactly what I was looking for.
It was getting later in the afternoon and we walked around a few dark alleys that weren’t wide enough for more than two people to walk side by side. It was about 6 o’clock and the tiny bars that lined this alley were just starting to open. You could see the men inside getting ready for the night, same as any other bar around the world only these bars had a few less chairs to set up. Every once in a while a businessman would zip by and slide into one of these bars, passing by so many others to enter one that I can only imagine he has visited night after night for years and will continue to for years to come. Sharing stories and unwinding after a long day at the office.
We found ourselves in front of a bar with a little window in front of it, where a woman stood cleaning a grill beckoning us to come in, and so we did. We pushed through the opening and took a seat at one of the maybe 7 stools that were available, from where I sat I could touch the back wall and almost the other side of the bar, it was clearly longer than it was wide which still wasn’t by much. The grill was used to make a traditional style of takoyaki, so we ordered up some along with a few drinks. I started off with a beer to wet my pallet but noticed the gentleman at the end getting something poured out of one of the huge saki bottles at his end of the bar. We started to talk to the owners and sampled a few drinks. The large bottles were mostly sweet sakis and I asked for them to make me a drink of their choice. I should have given some specifications because what came next could only be described as the most effeminate spritzer I’ve ever held. This thing had a straw, and was a bright pink bubbly concoction that was too sweet to taste like anything other than some fruit cocktail of sorts. The gentleman at the end of the bar had a bit of a grin and I sheepishly sipped my drink down.
After about three sips, I decided I needed something to earn back my place among this businessman and we asked for a manly drink, something as far from pink as possible and they grinned and they smirked as they went to work on what they would serve me next.
I knew I was in for something because the gentleman at the end of the bar kept peeking down at me as they mixed up my drink. My drink was simple yet it packed a punch, they called it Kigyo which I was told means little red fish. The fish was a little red chili that was served in my drink that ended up making this the spiciest drink I’ve ever had. I think they got the idea since I was pouring hot sauce on my takoyaki, so they felt I could handle something with a kick. I’m still not sure what was in the drink except the ice didn’t chill it and there was some leaf served in it. This drink was good, that is if you can eat a chili with a smile on your face. I know liquor is supposed to warm you up but this was something new altogether.
The night went by fast, we talked up with the owners and found out was their 3 year anniversary that day and we ended up getting a few parting gifts. They gave us their own takoyaki sauce and two little charms that you can put on your phone. I wanted to revisit the place before we left but I never got the chance, however I highly recommend if you do that you find your self wandering around sangen-jaya that you search out a takoyaki bar called ラヂオ or ‘Radio’ stop in for a bite to eat and maybe a drink or two and if you are up for a challenge ask for a Kigyo.
*The monkey pic is from the cover of the areas map guide and the star on the map is where the bar is located.
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