Kicking around the south side of Shibuya Station after Funkommunity’s epic first gig in Tokyo, we were feeling peckish, but indecisive. Not wanting to commit to a sit down meal, we headed to Fujiya Wine Bar, an offshoot of the infamous tachinomiya, Fujiya Honten. The original is a bit of an institution and the preferred watering hole for local oyaji who like to drink cheap and eat even cheaper – nothing is over ¥500. But that grimy dive bar is a far cry from its sparkling new standing bar, which is designed to target the younger, more urban demographic that frequent the area.
No oyagi here, it’s mostly dating couples and young professionals, but the basic ethos is still the same: a huge selection of bargain basement priced wines and inexpensive small plates of pan-European fare served without any airs or graces.
The wine list is a thick wad of laminated cards of that profile a vast selection of inexpensive new and old world wines. Prices range from ¥1,600 – ¥4,500, but most hover around the ¥2,500 mark. There are also about 20 red and white wines available by the glass for ¥500. Go for a bottle, because what you can’t drink, you can take home. And given that the prices are just a few hundred yen higher than retail, that’s a pretty good deal!
I was tempted by the Hugel Riesling, but as the music had shifted our thoughts to The Land of the Long White Cloud, we opted for a bottle of Old Coach Road Chardonnay, the economy label of Siegfried Estate; a winery renown for making of some consistently good New Zealand whites.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, tachinimoya are a great option for those in need of something ultra casual; you can drink order a drink and a plate then move on, or (as in our case) order cheap booze and food for as long as you can bear to stand. Generally, food is snacky and fairly underwhelming – drinking being the main focus. So it was pleasant surprise to discover that the dishes being pumped out of Fujiya’s small kitchen were both generously proportioned and tasty.
Table menus and blackboards list a variety of tapas and izakaya style dishes priced between ¥500-¥800. Apparently an English menu is available, but, as is so often the case, it only has their standard items – you will need to as for the daily specials.
I handed over ordering duties to The Stylist, as I did the obligatory Instagram photo documentation, and it seems that he was hungry, because we soon ran out of table space to accommodate it all.
A mixture of olives and pickles. Sure, they were straight out of the bottle, but at least they weren’t stingy with the portions.
Tai capaccio. Not so keen on the cherry tomato garnish, but the marinade was tasty and the fish nice & tender.
The elaborate saucing of the dishes made me wonder if there was a frustrated artist in the kitchen. Our caprice salad may have been made with hot house tomatoes and commercial mozzarella cheese, but the post-impressionist flourishes of basil dressing enlivened it nicely.
Kani-miso a la Jackson Pollock? A playful interpretation of an izakaya standard: crab meat deep fried in a thread-like patter with tobiko and a creamy kani-miso (crab entrail) sauce.
Kaki (oyster) and spinach gratin with a crunchy parmesan topping. Piping hot, creamy and packed with flavour.
The boys give their seal of approval. Last orders were called at 10:30, and by that they meant, “Drink up! We’re closing at 11pm.” Sure enough, at 11:01 – on the dot – we found ourselves on the pavement looking for a venue for our nijikai.
While the send-off may have been a little perfunctory, Fujiya Honten Wine Bar had served its purpose: we had full tummies and a cheap wine buzz. Its combination of good food and wine, low prices and convivial atmosphere make this standing bar a great option if ever you find yourself at a loose end on the south-side of Hachiko.