Ushi Tora has moved. The old standing bar is still there (check here for a post on that place), but their main bar has now crossed the tracks to the area north of where the Odakyu and Inokashira lines meet. I have a bit of a troubled relationship with Ushi Tora. I've had some bad experiences in the standing bar and can't imagine I will ever feel the need to go back there. But I have to admit the service in this place was fine. Nice, friendly staff and none of the bad stuff that I had at the standing location. I do still have a major reservation about recommending their bars as I'm sure will become apparent further along in this post, but they are popular places and plenty of people seem to not have the same issues that I do, so here it is.
The new bar has a nice feel about it. Comfy seats, well lit but not too bright. They've gone for the bare concrete here (as opposed to the other Tokyo craft beer bar staple decoration, lots of wood). There's a long counter for probably around 15 people and tables for maybe 30 more. Sorry, I didn't count the seats properly as I imagined I could get the information from tabelog, but it looks like they might not have updated that listing from the previous place yet. They serve a nice range of pub food if you're hungry. The place is no smoking and they have wifi.
There are 22 taps available, two of which were handpumps. The beer line up is dominated by their own stuff. Eight of the taps were their beer and these were generally served in two sizes 260ml and 470ml priced at ¥600-650 and ¥950-1100 respectively. Their stronger beer was priced in these same brackets, but available in 150ml and 300ml servings. There were a similar number of Japanese guests available in similar sizes but priced from ¥730-880 for the small and ¥1150-1400 for the large. Much much more expensive than most other bars. The taplist was rounded off with imports and these were even more expensive (¥830-930 and ¥1400-1500). I don't really understand why people are happy to pay these prices, but each to their own I guess. Their beer list is posted daily on their blog, so you can easily check what they have on before you go.
So, pretty obvious what my gripe is. I just don't like feeling like I'm getting ripped off. But to be fair, their prices and serving sizes are clearly listed and there are no any extra hidden charges unlike in some bars. To look at the positives, the whole experience was much better than previous experiences I have had in the other bar and the old place. The service was good and if you can look beyond the prices, the selection of beers is decent enough (although not sure there's anything that you can't get anywhere else). Later in the evening though, there were a few things running out and nothing new coming on, but I guess this would be different at the weekend. I think they used to stay open really late in the old place, but this one has much more normal opening times. Although, they do have the magical afternoon/daytime opening! Not somewhere I think I'll be going particularly often, but it will definitely work for some.
Japanese breweries seen on tap:
代田 6-3-27, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo