Tokyo's Takazawa Bar offers a modern izakaya experience

Takazawa bar is the brand new offshoot of the acclaimed and hard-to-book modern kaiseki restaurant Aronia de Takazawa.
Chicago, Illinois, US Estimated wait time: Three weeks (Photo: Flickr user Ann Van)
The fresh mozzarella in his tomato salad comes from a farmer in Hokkaido who learnt his craft in Italy. The firm milky cheese, fresh sweet tomatoes and pesto are a familiar combination but popping with flavour.
To make a reservation at this 26-seater, just call and leave a voice mail request... if you can get through to its usually full inbox. (Photo: Flickr user ulterior epicure)
Some of the highlights include beautiful live Hokkaido abalone (2,800 yen, S$32) that's flown in live every morning. He deep fries the critters alive coated in crunchy Panko crumbs, while the liver is mashed into a creamy pate with a bit of mustard to cut the richness.
Beverly Hills, California, US Estimated wait time: 1 month (Photo: Flickr user lesleyk)
Its 29-course menu sets diners back about $1,500 each, but that's not talking them out of the month-long queue. (Photo: Flickr user lesleyk)
The signature dish is Takazawa's home made duck curry, made with a mix of 50 spices cooked in a mildly spicy gravy thickened with blended onions, served with fried onions and raisins and artisanal steamed rice.
Brooklyn, New York, US Estimated wait time: Six weeks (Photo: AFP)
The restaurant takes phone bookings at 10.30am on Mondays (New York time). Have your finger on the redial button ready. (Photo: Flickr user nicola)
Tokyo, Japan Estimated wait time: Two months (Photo: Preferred Content)
Because the three-starred Michelin restaurant doesn't take foreign reservations, you'll have to get a Japanese local to make the booking for you and to go down personally to deliver a deposit of about $200. (Photo: Lee Peijie Rebekah)
Yountville, US Estimated wait time: Two months (Photo: Geoffrey Eu)
You can get a VIP table if you're going with someone big in the food industry, according to The Telegraph. No skirting the two-month queue, though. (Photo: The French Laundry)
Barcelona, Spain Estimated wait time: Two months (Photo: BT)
If you missed out on the legendary three-starred Michelin restaurant elBulli which closed in 2011, here's another chance to savour chef Ferran Adria's creations at this tapas bar, which he co-owns with his brother Albert. (Photo: Tickets)
Tokyo, Japan Estimated wait time: Two months+ (Photo: BT)
This Japanese/French fusion restaurant has two tables for a maximum of eight people. Good luck. (Photo: BT)
Copenhagen, DenmarkEstimated wait time: Three months (Photo: AFP)
Reservation day is on the sixth of every month, when the two-starred Michelin restaurant takes over 20,000 calls, according to The Telegraph. (Photo: ST)
Girona, Spain Estimated wait time: 11 months (Photo: El Celler de Can Roca)
Reserve seats, nearly a year in advance, at the world's best restaurant through its online booking system, which opens up at midnight on the first day of every month. (Photo: El Celler de Can Roca)
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, US Estimated wait time: A year (Photo: Talula's Table's Facebook page)
As stated on the restaurant's website, book your table "exactly one year in advance to the numerical date at 7am". (Photo: Talula's Table's Facebook page)
Earlton, New York, US Estimated wait time: 10 years+ (Photo: YouTube)
The restaurant in the basement of chef, waiter, grower, forager, gardener, cheesemaker, and cured-meat maker Damon Baehrel's home is currently not accepting new reservations due to a "huge influx" from April 2014. (Photo: Reuters)
Anaheim, California, US Estimated wait time: 14 years+ (Photo: Flickr user Ricky Brigante)
For access to this private club and restaurant located in Disneyland, you'll have to pay a joining fee of about $33,600, plus about $13,400 subsequently every year. And wait about 14 years to get the membership card. (Photo: Flickr user Ricky Brigante)
Manhattan, New York, US Estimated wait time: Your whole life, probably (Photo: YouTube)
This Italian-American eatery, which is now co-owned by actor Frank Pellegrino, does not take phone or online bookings. The only way to get in is through connections with regulars. They include politicians and Hollywood stars like Drew Barrymore (pictured). (Photo: YouTube)

SINGAPORE - (THE BUSINESS TIMES) It looks like a scene from The Wolf of Wall Street: loud American investment banker types chugging down expensive wine and boasting about big money deals, spitting out profanities in quick procession like they were getting paid $1,000 for each one. There are no naked women but there's plenty of food - artfully displayed canapes that they barely touch.

Such a waste considering that they're in Tokyo and eating at the new Takazawa bar - the brand new offshoot of the acclaimed and hard-to-book modern kaiseki restaurant Aronia de Takazawa.

Although it tends to attract mainly American expats, Takazawa Bar is chef Yoshiaki Takazawa's take on the traditional izakaya but minus the smoke and the whisky highballs. Instead you get a stylish (and pricey) range of tipple from sake to wine, fragrant grape beer and even artisanal Japanese ginger ale which comes in a tiny bottle.

  • TAKAZAWA BAR

  • Chome-6-10 Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo 107-0052
    Tel: +81 3-5797-7340 

Like the flagship restaurant (which incidentally is just behind the bar), the food is ingredient-based and sourced from Takazawa's stable of artisanal producers. The fresh mozzarella in his tomato salad, for example, comes from a farmer in Hokkaido who learnt his craft in Italy. The firm milky cheese, fresh sweet tomatoes and pesto are a familiar combination but popping with flavour.

Everything is prepared in the main kitchen at Aronia because the bar space is so tiny there are no cooking facilities and only enough space for one server to move around comfortably.

Takazawa and his wife Akiko are used to working in tight spaces so it comes as no surprise that they've managed to turn this tiny space into a stylish nook. A curved wooden counter is covered in glass, under which is a decorative zen garden of pebbles and stones in all sizes. Behind the counter is a cupboard door not unlike Harry Potter's room under the stairs, from which Akiko and Takazawa take turns appearing magically bearing food. The door actually leads to the back lane, from which it's just a 100 metre dash back to the main restaurant.

Some of the highlights include beautiful live Hokkaido abalone (2,800 yen, S$32) that's flown in live every morning. He deep fries the critters alive coated in crunchy Panko crumbs, while the liver is mashed into a creamy pate with a bit of mustard to cut the richness.

Shirako or cod milt (1,600 yen) is done two ways - creamy on the inside and crunchy on the outside as tempura; or takoyaki (octopus ball) style with a thin crust smeared with a coating of savoury balsamic soy sauce reduction.

The signature dish is Takazawa's home made duck curry, made with a mix of 50 spices cooked in a mildly spicy gravy thickened with blended onions, served with fried onions and raisins and artisanal steamed rice.

If you've always despaired of getting a reservation at Aronia de Takazawa, the bar is a happy consolation prize. Just tune out the Wall Street wolves and enjoy this modern izakaya for the good food it serves up.


This article was first published on Nov 28, 2015.
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