Meet the future of the Japanese beer scene. Ushi-Tora is at the cutting edge of craft beer bars in Tokyo, specializing in Ji-Biru (regional craft beer from Japan). It is owned & operated by 2 young beer geeks who seem pretty hardcore...in a good way. I was lucky enough to be there when an interpreter was on hand so communication was both easy & fun. These guys are not afraid to throw down and tell you what they think, good or bad. I like that. Their obvious passion for beer spills out from each tap, easily the most thoughtful draft line up I saw in Japan. Do not miss this place if you go to Tokyo.
Note: I rated 11 out of 15 for selection because I am comparing to all beer bars in the world. If it was just Japan, it would be a 14-15. Same with the overall rating (17). If it were just Japan, it would be a 19. We didn’t have food.
A nice little venue not far from Shimo-Kitazawa station with about 30 taps of which half devoted to their own beers. It was very quiet on the Monday arvo I visited but had a nice ambiance regardless. I didn’t try the food so can’t comment but all their beers I tried were good.
New rating for the new place. Staff experience was a lot better here than in the standing bar where I’ve had some dodgy experiences. Selection is heavy on their own beers which are priced around the 1000 yen mark. Japanese guests and imports are crazy expensive which they have to lose points for. Nice looking place and I know they have their fans, but the prices are a major turn off for me.
MrDick (13) San Francisco, California | August 29, 2016
Came into bar #2 (the one with tables and seats at the bar) on a Monday night ~7pm. Hardly anybody in the place. No attitude from the server. Extensive beer selection with 3 hand pumps, 10 Ushitora, 11 other Japanese craft, and 11 American micros. A bit pricey for the American micros ¥1500 / pint but a great selection including Modern Times, Funkworks, Firestone Walker, and New Belgium La Folie. Ushitora beers were priced ~¥1000 / pint (which is the same that I paid at Devil Craft. beers are better here though). Lots of IPA on tap. 4 by Ushitora including a triple IPA and Black IPA. 3 more American IPAs. Good place to check out and a great neighborhood to wonder around.
It was very hard to find this place from Google. Fortunately one local guided us (even he didn’t know the place). Two small rooms: other one is like a tiny bar and other one tiny restaurant. Food is excellent and kitchen is just behind the bar. Good selection of Japanese microbrews so a place to visit in Tokyo if you visit this area.
Located in the hipster/musician area of Shimokitazawa in a tiny backstreet, quite old and traditional vibe. One of the pioneer bars and geek-favorite around Tokyo’s craft beer scene, so the tap selection is quite extensive both for japanese and foreign seasonals, but prices are pretty steep for the area. Food snacks are fine but fairly small portions for the price, there are lots of better budget food spots in the area. Still can be worth a visit to check their recently opened ushitora brewery creations.
willisread (102) Nashville, Tennessee | February 9, 2015| Updated February 6, 2016
Between Ushi-Tora 1 and 2 they have probably the 2nd most taps in Tokyo. The taps are majority Japanese craft and they get a lot of stuff other places don’t have or get, which is awesome. Ushi-Tora is probably the most expensive craft beer bar in Tokyo. The atmosphere is also a little too dark for me (reminiscent of a Japanese kissaten or dungeon). The staff has been nothing but helpful for me on the 3 occasions I’ve been. They’ve even let me order beers from the other bar and delivered them without even leaving my seat. The food is pretty average izakaya fare although they do have some original things that are pretty tasty. They just finally started brewing their own stuff as well, late last year I believe.
Collection of two bars a few minutes walk from Shimokitazawa Station. Entered the first bar at the top of the stairs which is Ushi-Tora II, standing room only and pretty tiny. Ushi-Tora I is on the same floor a few steps away with tables and bar seating.
Good selection of Japanese and imported beers at both bars. Different menu at both but you can order at one bar and take it to the other. Pretty expensive beers, maybe the most expensive I’ve seen in Japan.
Didn’t try the food but it looked good from what others were ordering. Food menu was only in Japanese, not sure if they had an English menu but I wasn’t hungry enough to ask.
Friendly service. Worth a stop, just be prepared to splurge a bit on the beer.
EdKing (192) London, England | November 2, 2014| Updated November 3, 2014
Despite a few visits to Japan over the years it’s taken me a while to get down to Kitazawa. Finally made it on Halloween Night. Two small bars up on a balcony, about a 5 min walk from the station. The larger bar with food, lacks enough tables, so it’s a standing bar mainly. The second smaller bar is even smaller and is standing room only. I found the layout of the first bar a bit uncomfortable but weirdly the second bar is more cozy and comfortable to stand. They do a list of different beers in each bar. The main bar didn’t really have anything too exciting. Beers from Stillwater and another average American brewer, plus the last of the Ushi Tora beers from Luc Bim. I had the Test Batch #1 and it was pretty poor. Others were much better. In the smaller bar they had a huge beer list of Shiga Kogen beers, so great timing to be there. Big thumbs up for the number of beers. Service is very friendly. Overall a great little set of bars, maybe starting to get surpassed by some of the newer bigger craft beer bars, and now getting beaten on price, which were above average.
As it was Dec.30th when I popped in they had 700 yen half pints and 1000 yen pints but they decided to cancel the 1100 yen tasting set even though it was on the menu. That being said, service was knowledgeable & friendly enough but for the event it was cash on delivery. The selection was good with a Masaji Beer I was trying to track down & some really nice ales on hand pumps-all beers I had were in great condition. The atmosphere was nice with the sitting bar being all dark woods & a bit classy whereas the standing bar was more of a rough hewn rowdy atmosphere. A really nice place but after hearing tons of effusive praise for it in Kansai I was expecting to get my socks knocked off.