Craft Beer & BBQ in Kanto

Craft Beer and BBQ in Japan
Japan loves its meat – yakiniku, yakitori, yaki—- everything if you can grill it, then you can probably find a place that sells it. All of these places have beer and meat in coming; however, it’s only in the last decade or so, that American-style BBQ has become popular. It’s messy, smokey, and time-consuming; however, the flavours and cuts of meat used vary greatly from the yakiniku you get served. The long, arduous process of marinating, smoking, and cutting the meat is left to the die-hard fans, while the rest of us can’t wait to consume it. Brisket, sausages, ribs, pulled pork – all of these are amazing when cooked well – we’ve had our fair share of it in Japan. We’ve gained weight because of it, lost weight, and gained the weight again, and no doubt will lose it and rinse and repeat the cycle.
This guide is for those wanting to have some bbq and craft beer – we’ve asked around with some local experts on what they like and where they would eat and drink.
The only constraints for these places are:
  • BBQ MUST be made in store and not from bought – so no places that order in BBQ for you.
  • BBQ HAS to be the main focus for food in the bar. BBQ with something else is fine, but BBQ as an afterthought is a no-no.
  • 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 BBQ 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 yakiniku listing with beer.
Without much further ado and in no particular order:

1) Baird Bashamichi Taproom in Bashamichi, Yokohama

Being a Brit, the idea of a BBQ for most of the small nation contains sausages burnt on the outside, and frozen on the inside, alongside some rubbery bits of meat that could be steak or pork. And sauces? Well you’ve got the choice of tomato sauce, some mayonnaise, or salad cream. Maybe some BBQ sauce too. One of the first BBQ places I went to in Japan was Baird Bashamichi Taproom back in late 2011 – and my mind was turned. The selection of meats at Baird Bashamichi Taproom is simple and straightforward, and all well made. The sides also go well with the meats and range from simple staples, such as corn bread and mac & cheese, to salads for vegetarians and also some flammkuchen-like pizzas. The taps are all Baird Beer with plenty of styles to choose from to go with whatever meat or sauce you choose to go with your meal.

Review: Baird Bashamichi Taproom in Kannai, Yokohama

2) Hatos in Naka-Meguro, Tokyo

Hatos, located in Naka-meguro, has long been a stalwart in the Tokyo community for BBQ. If you have not booked, it’s also one of the most busiest places for both craft beer and BBQ too – with queues and waiting times upwards of a few hours. It was also the first place in Tokyo to sell pit BBQ style food – with smoked pork sliders aka smoked pork burgers, pulled pork, baby back ribs, and some other specials throughout the year, such as chili, sausages, and other meats like chicken or beef. The sides are basic with fries and salsa, chili beans with corn bread, and the ubiquitous mac & cheese. The range may be narrower than other places on this list, but the food is highly recommended and the craft beer on tap – with Shiga Kogen well represented and also beers from overseas – pairing very well with the meats on the menu too.

Review: Hatos Bar in Nakameguro, Tokyo

3) Smokehouse in Yoyogi-Uehara, Tokyo

Shibuya is better known for fashion than drinking; however, Smokehouse, previously called Urban BBQ Smokehouse, brought BBQ to the Shibuya area, thanks to TY Harbor. While Smokehouse may not be the “first authentic BBQ” as advertised on the Smokehouse website, it does offer up authentic south American BBQ food, with the familiar brisket, sausages, pulled pork, alongside more modern dishes such as smoked chicken, chicken burgers, and also sliders too. As always, you can find the common sides of mac & cheese, pickles, and corn bread, with other options such as grits, smoked nuts, and green veggies. For those people wanting something different, there are also some more unusual offerings for a BBQ restaurant, with fish dishes on the menu too. Smokehouse is also one of the pricier places to go to get BBQ food however the portions are large enough to share for two or three people. The taps are mostly TY Harbor offerings with some guest beers on tap, though there are plenty of styles to choose from.

Review: Urban BBQ Smokehouse in Shibuya, Tokyo

4) Nawlins BBQ & Craft Beer House in Yokosuka, Kanagawa

Of all places prime for a BBQ place, then a city home to one of of Japan’s largest US naval populations should have been at the forefront. Nawlins BBQ & Craft Beer House opened in 2014, and since then has become a popular place for locals and tourists alike to pick up some BBQ food, and also New Orleans cooking, hence the name Nawlins – the tourist pronunciation of New Orleans. The food is split between both BBQ cooking, with options of Baby back ribs, St Louis spare ribs, Texas style brisket, Chicken legs, Andouille sausage, and Memphis style pulled pork on the menu, along with traditional cooking from New Orleans and southern cusines, such as Po’ boy sandwiches, gumbo, and catfish. There is also a wide range of taps of craft beer, with selections from both domestic breweries and overseas options on the menu too.

Review: Nawlins BBQ & Craft Beer Bar in Yokosuka, Kanagawa

5) Midtown BBQ in Kannai, Yokohama

One of the newest BBQ places in Kanagawa that came highly rated – and for good reason. The original branch in Nagoya is often fully booked, and their wagyu brisket sells out so fast that even with a reservation you’re not guaranteed to get some. There are plenty of options for meat lovers – sausages, chicken, ribs, brisket – and the best thing about it is that you can get it to take away if you can’t finish off the portions. Pair this up with a varied selection of domestic and imported craft beers, and you’re set for a lunch or evening of great meat and beers.

Review: Midtown BBQ in Kannai, Yokohama

6) Rise & Win Brewing Co. Kamikatz Taproom in Minato, Tokyo

It’s not all about American BBQ on this list, as the food at Rise & Win Brewing Co. Kamikatz Taproom is based on BBQ and grilled meats, so vegetarians should try getting food elsewhere. However, it’s not your usual American style BBQ, but more traditional with meats grilled over coals – known as hibachi. Japanese BBQ, while often thought to be yakiniku, is far more simpler than that, with coals being used to cook instead of gas flames. The menu focuses on locally grown, and on occasion organic, food sourced from around the area. While Kamikatz beers vary in quality – we’ve had some good ones and some bad ones on the site – there is plenty of choice here, so you can find something you’ll like.

Review: Rise & Win Brewing Co. Kamikatz Taproom

7) Barchie’s in Kamakura, Kanagawa

A late addition to this list is somewhere we came across on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Kamakura. Barchie’s came recommended to us via a friend who had been there and exalted about the ribs and also their craft beer. If someone recommends a place this much to us, you know we have to go. And we weren’t disappointed. Everything is cooked in-house over coals, with some wood used for smoking, and the ribs! Wow! They are seriously huge though you may order more than one. Be careful, there is a lot of meat on those ribs and I was definitely happy after one, but next time I go, I’m going back for two – or even three of them!
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.

Liked it? Take a second to support BeerTengoku on Patreon!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.