Monday, 23 September 2013

El Nubichinom

Yokohama again today, and a place that might now get overlooked because of all the places opening with lots of taps. El Nubichinom is tiny. Standing only with not really much room for more than 7 or 8 people at a push. Situated next to a canal, which sounds very picturesque, but it's in a bit of a shady area, so might not be the idyll you are imagining. This place is on this blog mainly for its atmosphere, although I have never been in the evening, as it's a pretty nice place to have a drink in the afternoon and has the bonus that it is open relatively early.
The area of town that El Nubichinom is in is one that is heavy on massage parlour type places and hostess bars, so a bit dodgy, although in the afternoon this just amounts to a lot of closed shopfronts, so not really scary. I have heard that there is not a big crossover of customers between this place and the other local businesses, partly due to the difference in opening hours. El Nubichinom is open from 15.00 to 21.30 daily (apart from Tuesdays), so is a good option for an afternoon drink. Saying this, it does seem to close for various reasons from time to time which makes it a bit more difficult to get in. My first two attempts were unsuccessful. The first time this was due to the place being booked for a private party (although the master was kind enough to sell us beer to take away), and the second time, closed for a holiday. The third time I thought I was going to fail again when I tried the door, and it wouldn't open. Thankfully, due to me lingering and cursing my luck, the barman demonstrated the sliding door, which naturally did not respond to me pushing or pulling it. Whilst I was drinking the same thing happened with another customer, making me feel not quite so stupid. And even if you do find it closed, there are quite a few places in the area, so probably worth popping here first and checking, rather than depending on it being open to round off a lengthy pub crawl.
So, on to the beer. When I visited, there were five taps on. I believe that sometimes there might be six, but you won't get more than that. The choice was not amazing, with a couple of beers on that I was not interested in, but there was still a few good options. On the day of my first unsuccessful visit involving the takeaway beers, the choice was a lot better, so I am not going to be too hard on it. In spite of it being so small, it also serves food as well as beer. When I arrived I was given a small piece of cheese which I presumed was going to be because of a cover charge, but it seemed to be just a taster, and it was delicious. If I was hanging round much longer I would have ordered some, so it kind of worked but maybe not exactly to the extent that they might have hoped. The beers are served in two sizes and the prices are the same for all beers (choose carefully!). The small is 200ml and the large 420ml. The strange opening hours and local colour have lead to an interesting pricing policy. The menu lists the two sizes as costing ¥700 and ¥1400, which for the larger size in particular is very expensive, even for Japan. However, there is a 'happy hour' which runs from opening to 21.00, so effectively the whole opening hours apart from the last 30 minutes. I have to admit I quite enjoyed the idea of this. I guess they don't want people hanging around after nine. Certainly came as a relief as I had ordered a large without first checking the price list and when I saw the ¥1400, I swallowed something hard and jagged.
Not really much else to say about this place. I had heard good things about it, and especially about how unique it was, and on that level it certainly did not disappoint. Whilst the choice was a little underwhelming when I was there, given that there is no cover charge, there is really nothing to stop you leaving after having what you want and moving on to one of the other good places in the area. The barman on the day of my visit was standing in for the owner who was at the Yokohama beer festival, but was still very friendly and helpful. I would definitely have stayed and chatted if I hadn't been on a tight schedule. I will definitely pop back here for another one again as the place just feels nice and I would imagine it is a good place to go for a different kind of Japanese bar experience.

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:

Shimono Loco
Fujizakura Kogen

Opening Hours:
Daily, 15.00-21.30

Closed Tuesdays

都橋商店街 117, 1-1
宮川町, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 

Once again, out of my directions comfort zone as I am not a Yokohama resident. I can't say this is the best route, but it is the one that I take and you will go just past Antenna America (so the first bit of the directions is the same). From Kannai JR station, leave via the North exit. After you come through the ticket barriers turn left and then left again out of the station. When you get to the main road, cross it and turn left again and walk under the railway tracks. As you come out from under the tracks cross the even bigger road and at the other side, turn right. Carry on up this road until you cross the river. Turn left at the small police station on the corner down the side street and follow it down. El Nubichinom is on the left hand side a little way down. Best check the picture of the outside above. 


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