Monday, 2 September 2013

Kraft Work (Banji Kaichou)

Finally, a new blog post, after a brief hiatus where I returned to Europe for a little holiday and drank far too much for me to even want to think about beer for a while after returning to Japan. Today, Kraft Work in Ikebukuro which I have been meaning to try for a while, mainly because of the name. On my first attempt to visit, it was fully booked, so once again this is a place where you would be advised to book in advance or turn up just as they are opening. This is possibly the curse of the Tokyo Craft scene at the moment (along with, in my opinion, cover charges). There has been a lot of talk recently about the world Craft Beer scene reaching saturation point, but the fact that Tokyo places are always busy suggests that we are not there quite yet. Although, it could be that Japanese beer bars are usually a lot smaller than their European counterparts, and are generally more geared towards food and drink rather than drink and a little bit of food as you might see in the UK. Anyway, back on to the topic of the day...
Ikebukuro seems to have quite a lot of good places to drink nowadays, quite a few of which I still haven't tried. Kraft Work was high on my list because of the fact that they do craft beer and craft sake (along with the name of course). On my visit though, I concentrated on the beer. They have 10 taps of craft sold in two sizes (275ml and 450ml). Stronger beers are just sold in the smaller size. The prices are not the cheapest around, the smaller glasses ranging from ¥650-¥750 and the larger ones from ¥1050-¥1150. All the beers were from Japanese breweries and apart from the decor (which is quite mod influenced and has lots of musical stuff round and about) the place does have a real Japanese feel.
The food is pretty much all seasonal Japanese dishes and not the regular cheap pub stuff and is again possibly a bit more expensive than other places in Tokyo, but the atmosphere is really nice. It is not the biggest of places (no surprise!) and there is seating for about 10 at a couple of counter areas and maybe 20 more at a range of tables. Pleasingly, the place is no smoking, but from time to time smoke does drift in from the smoking area outside the front door. Although given the smoking policy of some places in Tokyo, this is easy to put up with.
So, a place that I really liked, but with some reservations. The prices are not the cheapest (particularly the food) and you could say that the beer selection is not the widest but there was definitely good stuff to drink. And they do have a ¥300 cover charge. However, it does really have quite a special and unique feel. A lot of places in Tokyo could have been transplanted from elsewhere in the world, but Kraft Work has a real Japanese feel. Also there are a lot of places around that are really trying to be classy establishments, but sometimes feel a little bit sterile. Kraft Work is the opposite in that it feels comfortable and with lots of atmosphere, but with good quality stuff on offer. I will definitely be going back!

Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Shiga Kogen
North Island

Opening Hours:
Monday-Friday, 11.30-14.00, 17.00-24.00
Saturdays (and Sundays before a public holiday), 17.00-04.00
closed Sundays

2F, 1-47-5 東池袋, Toshima-ku, Tokyo, 170-0013

Ikebukuro station is a bit of a maze, so good luck. Ideally leave the station by exit 23, although this is easier said than done. As a rule, you need to head for an East exit. There are lots of different 'passages' in the station, but I think the direction I normally head for is central passage East exit. So presuming you manage to find exit 23, come up the steps and head straight along the main road. You will go past a big Bic Camera and a big Labi/Yamada Denki. After about 250m you will see on the right hand side of the road a fairly big government building (Toshima ward office) and a Family Mart on the left hand side. Take the left turn after the Family Mart. If you get to where the Expressway crosses overhead you have gone too far, so turn round and go down the first side street. Once you have made the turn, continue to the junction and you should be able to see Kraft Work opposite you on the second floor. Look out for the mod looking circle logo. Good luck! 




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Forrester Hamish said...

This place has good sake too. The owner used to work in a Japanese restaurant, hence the unusual food. There were a lot if whale meat dishes when I was there, which not everyone would agree with. I

Tokyo Beer Drinker said...

Not so good for me, but then again I realise that as a vegetarian I am very much in the minority here, so don't expect everyone to cater for me. I do appreciate it more when they have something I can eat though.