Vivo! The Bottom Line
As much as I wanted to like Vivo! there was something about the bar being downstairs, windowless and in turn stuffy, and with smoke floating around that put me off it – though if you can get over those points, then Vivo! would be a good place to pick up some beers, if you don’t mind the prices being towards the higher end of Tokyo’s range. The menus have a comprehensive amount of detail on them, from the sizes and prices of beer, to thorough descriptions too. There is no table charge in Vivo! and all prices include tax in them as well. The bar also has free WiFi but you do have to ask the bar staff for the password (I think it was Vivo2010 but don’t quote me on that one!)
Vivo! The Full Review
Vivo!, or vivo! BEER+DINING BAR to give it its full name, has been serving Ikebukuro craft beer since 2003 and is perhaps one of the oldest craft beer bars in the area – besides The Aldgate in Shibuya – there aren’t many older bars within the Yamanote line loop that have been serving craft beer for so long. It’s situated on the east side of Ikebukuro station, located in the basement of a busy district with office workers and couples streaming through, so make sure you have a careful eye out for the sign above the door that leads downstairs. Vivo! was the, eventual, third bar in the small crawl around Ikebukuro, with Gotsubo pulling us in for a short distraction.
Vivo! was already 1/2 full when we turned up at just after 7pm on a Wednesday night. As we stumbled / strolled in, we could hear football being played on the TVs around the bar, with a small amount of hubbub going on, with couples and office workers drinking the night away. Tokyo often feels like a place of two cities; so much goes on above ground that you forget that there exists an underground side to it. Vivo! felt a bit like that – no natural light and warm air con blasting away making it feel stuffy. The bar is non-smoking though there is a small smoking room located by the entrance, which needs some work on its ventilation as it wasn’t helping matters. There wasn’t any table charge for the bar and there was also some WiFi too, but you have to ask the bar staff for the password. There’s about 15 seats at the bar counter, with another 25 or so seats dotted around various tables in the bar.
There are 20 taps on at at Vivo! with a heavy leaning to domestic craft beers on tap, with some American and European imports too. The beers come in a variety of glasses and sizes, with small (280ml) at ¥780 to ¥880 for domestic beers, medium (350ml) at ¥930 to ¥1,030 and large (470ml) at ¥1,080 to ¥1,130, though all the prices do include tax. Imports also are priced higher, at about ¥150 to ¥250 extra per size, than those beers but come in the same sizes. The beers were served in a decent size and came up served up to the line on the glass where appropriate, with a bit more in there as well for luck. The tap list was quite varied, with plenty of choice available but with prices at the higher end of Tokyo prices then it can get expensive quickly. If there was a happy hour, then it wasn’t advertised nor were we told about it and there didn’t appear to be any beer flights on offer.
Let’s skip everything else about food and surmise it as round discs of potato that were boiling hot and burnt my mouth – even more so than the effort at Darcy’s. These were little flat pockets of burning hot oil that was not even tempered by the tomato ketchup and mayonnaise on offer. However, there were lots on the plate. The regular menu was your standard pub offerings with small finger dishes to full meals on offer. The menus did have English on them and the staff did speak English going as well.
Open: Monday to Thursday 17:00 – 00:30 (L.O 00:00) Friday 17:00 – 02:00 (L.O 01:30) Saturday and Sunday 15:00 – 02:00 (L.O 01:30)
Happy Hour: None
Homepage (in Japanese): http://vivo-beer.com/
How to Get to Vivo!
The closest station to Vivo! is Ikebukuro, which is shared by East Japan Railway Company (JR East), Tokyo subway operator Tokyo Metro (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line, and Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line) along with Seibu Railway and Tobu Railway. It’s about a five minute walk to the bar from the central east exit of the station.