Bakushuan Otsuka The Bottom Line
Bakushuan Otsuka may have a cosy, at-home atmosphere that is relaxing but the high prices, along with the table charge meant that what could be the saviour of craft beer in a quiet area of Tokyo has left itself wanting. The prices are towards the higher end in Tokyo, the 400yen table charge, and the tiny portions of food for a relatively high price is off putting for those looking for a couple of cheap pints. The lack of English menus is also off putting for those for those who can’t read cursive Japanese though the staff were helpful. Thankfully though, Bakushuan Otsuka prices do include tax and the whole bar is non-smoking.
Bakushuan Otsuka The Full Review
Otsuka has long been a barren wasteland of craft beer bars in Tokyo, what with it being stuck between Ikebukuro and Ueno along with the masses crawling home to their sleepy commuter towns past Otsuka. Bakushuan Otsuka has been present in the area and is well-known to be the longest serving craft beer bar in the area, and the Ebisu branch was a welcome expansion to a bar that is seemingly always busy.
Bakushuan Otsuka is located two minutes from JR Otsuka station, and also the quaint and imaginatively named Toden Arakawa Line station Otsuka-ekimae, above a Mos Burger. I know it’s hard, but the Mos Burger is possibly there for good reason. Bakushuan Otsuka is located in what first appears to be an old Japanese izakaya, with low chairs, wooden walls, a long counter placed in front of a rustic kitchen. There is space for about 6 people at the counter, and about 20 people sitting at tables but it’s recommended to book – I turned up at 6:15, soon after opening, and all the tables had been reserved, so counter seating it was. Unfortunately, there is a ¥400 table charge it seems, though that was due to some rough calculating from the final cost as no receipt was given.
There are ten taps of craft beer at Bakushuan Otsuka, and lots of sake, though the staff do encourage you to try the craft beer first before moving onto sake. Most, if not all, of the taps are dedicated to domestic craft beer, and beers come in two sizes: small (270ml) from ¥500 to ¥750, and large (490ml) from ¥950 to ¥1300 – a tad on the pricey side, but those prices do include tax it seems. The beers are served with a minimal, if not no, head unless you ask for it. Some craft beer bars in Japan could probably learn from this. There wasn’t a happy hour, nor were there any tasting sets available either.
Food – well let’s just say I’m glad that there is a Mos Burger downstairs. The food at Bakushuan Otsuka is geared towards seafood dishes, with oysters playing a large part in the menu – a menu that was all in cursive Japanese. Thankfully, the staff were quite generous in helping to read out some of the harder to read kanji, though they did give a very detailed explanation of each piece on the menu. However, while the food is tasty, it’s expensive for what it is and tiny – best take a trip to Mos Burger either before or after drinking to line your stomach.
Bakushuan Otsuka Details
Open: Tuesday to Saturday 18:00 to 01:00 (L.O 0:00) Sunday and National Holidays 15:00 to 23:00 (L.O 22:00)
Happy Hour: None
How to Get to Bakushuan Otsuka
The closest station to Bakushuan Otsuka is Otsuka on the JR Yamanote line. It can also be reached from the Toden Arakawa Line station Otsuka-Ekimae. Turn left out of the ticket barrier at JR Otsuka station and walk straight across the bus stop area. Bakushuan Otsuka is located just behind the building.