Craft Beer & Chips in Kanto

Craft Beer & Chips Guide Front

For those that have been following and reading BeerTengoku for a while now, know that we LOVE our chips. Wedges, crinkle cut, steak cut, shoestring, roast – there are so many ways that the versatile potato can be served up in the form of something that has been cut and fried in oil. Then there comes dips – mayonnaise, BBQ sauce, in-house sauces – but we always come back to the best being tomato ketchup. And of course, you need something to wash down those chips, and in comes the craft beer.

This guide is for those wanting to have some chips and craft beer – I know I love the combination and if someone asks me, these are the places we recommend for the great combination.

The only constraints for these places are:

  • Chips do not have to be the main focus but they should always be on the menu.
  • Craft beer has to be on tap and not in bottles – we have no problem with the latter; however, there is no difference then in making your own chips and buying your own bottles for consumption at home.
  • Must be in the Kanto area – we’ve extended the area out now as there are some good choices outside of the Yamanote line.
  • Must have Japanese craft beer on tap – else it would just be a chip shop.

Without much further ado and in no particular order:

1) August Beer Lab Kitchen – Nihonbashi / Tokyo

The Background

August Beer Lab Kitchen Food 1It was back in 2014, when BeerTengoku first started out, that our love with August Beer Club blossomed. The chips at the “original” branch grabbed us and kept us coming back for more – of course, the happy hour helped out somewhat. But the chips… Wow. If you’ve ever been to Belgium, then you’ve had Belgian fries – ones that have been first deep fried, and then fried / doused / smoothered with butter all over them, and a liberal dousing of salt. That’s what the chips at August Beer Lab Kitchen are like – and then they come served up with some delicious sour cream and mayonnaise concoction that keeps you coming back for more. The beers are good but the downside to August Beer Lab Kitchen is that it is a smoking bar – so come in, grab a plate of chips (go large!) and grab a couple of beers too as well to wash everything down.

The Review

August Beer Lab Kitchen in Nihonbashi, Tokyo

2) Mokichi Food Kitchen – Chigasaki / Kanagawa

The Background

Mokichi Foods Garden Food 1Shonan Beer / Kumazawa Shuzo have been making beers for over 20 years but they also have a small chain of bars across the south Kanagawa area, specialising in mostly Italian-style pizzas, bread, and also sausages. However, it was on a trip to the Chigasaki branch for one of their famed nomihodais (drink-as-much-as-you-can-without-puking) that we came across these fried lumps of potatoes. They’re not cheap but they do hit the spot and are very very good. Wash these wedges, lumps, clumps or whatever you want to call them, down with a wide range of beers from Shonan Beer, and you’ve got yourself lined up. Just one word of warning – they chips are piping hot so do let them cool down!

The Review

Mokichi Foods Garden in Chigasaki, Kanagawa

3) Beach Muffin

The Background

Beach Muffin FoodOn our original list, we completely dropped the ball and forgot about Beach Muffin – as so often we do. It can be an arduous place to get to – just take the Keikyu line to Shin-Zushi then walk for a bit, but it’s worth the walk for some of the best vegan food in Japan. Every time we’ve been to Beach Muffin though, the chips are always ordered. Solid lumps of potatoes that have been doused in some kind of chili coating – they’re spicy for sure, but they won’t blow your head off or overpower your senses. The only downside to them is either people steal them from you, “oh, just one chip.” and they’re all gone before you know it and you have to order some MORE of them to share.

The Review

Beach Muffin in Zushi

4) Ottotto Brewery Hamamatsucho – Daimon / Tokyo

Ottotto Brewery Hamamatsucho Food 1The Background

Daimon is another area that has seen a surge in popularity over recent years – but this area has seen an increase in craft beer bars instead. Ottotto Brewery is the first in the chain of expanding bars on the east side of Tokyo and it was with a post birth celebration that we ended up in Ottotto Brewery. While the bar’s focus is mostly on oysters, and they do a lot to promote Japanese oysters, the chips were also as equally amazing. Though the portion was on the small side for two people – don’t let that overflowing deep fat fryer basket fool you – the chunkier nature of them was different to the usual shoestring style of chips ever present in Japan. The sides were simple – tomato sauce and that was it – but sometimes that is all you need. While the beers do leave some room for improvement, the pale ale did go down very well with the chips here.

The Review

Ottotto Brewery Hamamatsucho in Daimon, Tokyo

5) Hikawa Brewery – Omiya / Saitama

The Background

Hikawa Brewery Food 1Saitama often gets a bad rep here at BeerTengoku – and usually for a good reason. It really is a trek to get anywhere up there past the Awakawa, River Awa, but we still made an effort to do a small crawl around the Omiya area. Hikawa Brewery took our fancy because they served pints – not US pints – but proper UK pints aka 568ml of beer in a glass for a decent price. But it was the table next to us and their order of chips that caught our eye. Wedges – potatoes that have been cut up into eighths – are something always welcome and these were cooked to perfection. With a healthy serving of salt and tomato ketchup on the side, these scalding hot wedges were consume within five minutes of arrival. And then more were ordered. And a third portion. The beers are getting better as more batches are made so side up with a good pint of beer and some of these wedges.

The Review

Hikawa Brewery in Omiya, Saitama

6) Yokohama Bay Brewing – Kannai / Kanagawa

The Background

Yokohama Bay Brewing Food 2Yokohama Bay Brewing prides itself on being the first brewpub in the area – though Yokohama Brewery may have something to say about that. However, for a while, Yokohama Bay Brewing was the place to be seen in the area if you wanted craft beer. Yet for us at BeerTengoku, it was the premise of the chips that dragged us there – and of course beer! Back in 2014, the chip machine was a new thing in Japan but essentially it squishes potatoes through a big plate that draws out some massively long fries – with some of them being between 15 to 30 cms in length – an impressive feat. While you don’t get many for your cash, you do get a lot in terms of actual potato. They’re again cooked to perfection with a crunchy bite, followed up by soft inside, though you do have to ask for some sides.

The Review

Yokohama Bay Brewing Kannai in Kannai, Yokohama

7) Craft Beer Market – Awajicho / Tokyo

The Background

Craft Beer Market Awajicho Food 2Craft Beer Market, along with Craft Beer Bar iBrew, have become chains famous of cheap craft beer in Japan. In times when prices are approaching ¥1,100 for a US pint, both chains manage to keep their prices down; however, it’s on the food they make their profits. It’s the chips that seem to be the most overpriced things on the menu. But they are worth it! Huge piles of shoestring fries that resemble something out of an American diner, and are served piping hot! There is also a slightly crunchy coating to them as well – something like you’d find at Burger King. With a decent amount of salt on top and some pots of tomato ketchup on the side, the chips are simple and tasty. It’s easy to munch through two or three plates both by yourself or with friends. Washed down with some of the cheapest craft beer in the country, it’s easy to come away with plenty of change from a 5000yen note.

The Review

Craft Beer Market Awajicho in Awajicho, Tokyo

8) Craftsman Yokohama – Yokohama / Kanagawa

The Background

Craftsman Yokohama Food 5

Yokohama has been rather slow on the uptake for craft beer, unlike its dedication to izakayas which have proliferated around the station area. In the past, Thrash Zone would have been on this list, but their choice to remove food from their menus and just focus on beer was a bit mistake. Craftsman Yokohama came in, swooped their chip-loving customers from under their noses, and haven’t looked back since. Their chips, like those found in August Beer Lab Kitchen, are Belgian style. Cooked once in oil then doused again in butter, they come up piping hot, but this time with a variety of sauces, but no tomato ketchup on the plate. You can ask for some but the sauces really are a welcome change – celery salt mayonnaise as well as pink Himalayan salt add a certain upper class spin on something so simple. With a wide varied menu of beers too, it’s possible to get filled up for ¥2000 on chips and beers.

The Review

Craftsman Yokohama in Yokohama, Kanagawa

9) TBE Brewing – Ebisu / Tokyo

The Background

TBE Brewing Food 2Ebisu was a funny place. For a long time, it was a commuter hub where people changed from JR lines to the Toyoko and Metro lines, with only a passing glance into the surrounding shops. A few izakayas dotted around for some office workers. TBE Brewing opened up with a crazy ¥100 beer opening offer that got people in – and kept drinkers coming back for more. While the beer is no longer as cheap – ¥980 per US pint – the rotating flavours of chips are worth coming for. They come in two sizes but let’s be honest, noone really wants the small portion of chips. In the past, we’ve seen truffle fries (nutty but tasty), lemon pepper (sour but spicy), and also cheesey chips (chips doused in parmesan cheese). They are piping hot shoe string fries that seem to disappear in groups of people. The rotating taplist is also posted daily on their Facebook so you know what you’re getting in advance.

The Review

TBE Brewing in Ebisu, Tokyo

10) Swan Lake Pub Edo – Kyobashi / Tokyo

The Background

Swan Lake Pub Edo FoodWhen you’re looking for beers during the day with kids, you had better find somewhere that has chips on the menu. And a happy hour to boot? Bonus! Swan Lake Pub Edo is located less than five minutes from Tokyo station, is open from lunch, and has an interesting take on chips. Big lumps of potato that aren’t quite wedges, nor are they roast potatoes, but just lumps. They came lightly spiced with some curry powder on that didn’t deter the little ones from munching down on them – except that the chips were piping hot! Be warned – they are like little pockets of boiling oil so do give them the chance to cool down before eating on them. The portion is on the small side, but the chips are quite large in size! Washed down with some Swan Lake beer that was on happy hour special and you’ve got yourself a tasty little session.

The Review

Swan Lake Pub Edo in Kyobashi, Tokyo

 

Honourable Mentions

1) Cosugi Lodge – Musashi Kosugi / Kanagawa

The Background

Cosugi Lodge Food 3Musashi Kosugi – a weird place that seems to have seen an explosion in popularity with commuters. However, it was a random visit in 2018 that took us to Cosugi (yes, a “c” not a “k”) Lodge and some beers. With the promise of camp fire cooking, think Dutch ovens and grilled meats, it was the “bucket of chips” on the menu that took grabbed our attention. Surely a bucket of chips is the best idea ever?! It turned out to be a bad idea with so many chips, but the shoestring style fries, along with a healthy dose of salt, and side of tomato ketchup meant a lot of beer was consumed while trying to eat the bucket of chips. These were designed to be shared and were perfectly crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside. If you can finish off a whole bucket by yourself, well done, but also pick up some local Brimmer Brewing beers too to help all the chips go down.

The Review

Cosugi Lodge in Musashi Kosugi, Kanagawa

Do you agree or disagree with our list? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author

BeerTengoku Writer

Who is the BeerTengoku Writer? Noone seems to know. Neither Rob nor Joe have been in the same place when the Writer has been out. All we know is that he likes big bold beers and knows a lot.

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