Drinking and eating in Japan at foreigner friendly pubs.
So you arrive in Tokyo and you are not sure where to go for your first drink. There are so many options from a vending machine, a convini beer or an izakaya. You walk past so many places in awe of all that there is to see… BUT you are still thirsty. For me my most recommended place is The Hub British Pub. There is am amazing amount of locations throughout Japan and many major wards in Tokyo like Shinjuku will have more than one location within a few minutes walk of each other. I first experienced The Hub in Omiya Saitama on my 2nd night in Japan. I met a few friends there and thought “WOW” what a cool place to meet. There were non-smoking areas, smoking areas and even a patio. The bar staff were friendly, spoke some English and the service was amazing.
NOW, the first thing you want to do when going to The Hub is get their point card. The form is easy to fill out and I think if I can remember it costs 500 yen to get. The good thing is that you get 2 things with this card – 1) every purchase is 5% off 2) you collect points for all purchases. As the points accumulate you can achieve different points levels of getting Hub Cash coupons in increments of 500. For example 3000 = 2000 yen 10000 = 7000 yen and 20000 = 15000 yen. Remember it is HUB CASH only used at the Hub. You can use at any Hub which is a +! The only catch with using this cash is if you purchase something for say 540 you can pay 500 yen Hub coupon and 40 yen cash. Same example but you want to use 2 500 yen coupons…you won’t get any actual cash back….so purchase close to trying to use each coupon as you can.
I have visited many locations and although each location is branded the same the actual layouts to vary. You may encounter some locations that are mainly smoking (they are changing these), some that are small and cramped to very big and spacious. Usually The Hub locations will be somewhat close to a station or a shopping area (high traffic areas) and are very easy to find. In the Tokyo area I am very partial to The Hub LaQua (Tokyo Dome) and have become a “regular” with the staff knowing me due to going there many times a week. You can check out and old video here: https://youtu.be/KRRY1yNzT9w It is a smaller Hub and due to being close to Tokyo Dome it truly gets packed on any event day (baseball games and concerts) which can get crazy BUT this location has been closed since mid Jan 2018 (insert crying face here) and will reopen March 14. 2018 with an expansion and HUGE face lift. In looking at their renewal open sign they will be offering great drink specials too.I couldn’t find a layout of the old style (watch the video for a better idea) and here is how the “NEW” layout is….a HUGE improvement! In looking at the new
layout you can see it has doubled in size with a few great updated features like; a separate smoking room area/ smoking booth, double the washrooms,a mini bar (not sure about this but may be to service the patio). Speaking of the patio it seems they have either made it a bit bigger and/or just redesigned it better. It really is awesome to sit outside in the summer people watching etc….. Another good thing that they have now (didn’t have due to size) are the 2 big round table creating a community table and being able to meet new people. The Hub truly is a great place to meet people.
The other location I visit is in Shinjuku which is comparable to the new layout of my “2nd Home” but is where I as a vlogger have filmed a few times due to the atmosphere and friendly customers and foreigners passing through. By far a location great for a Sat night with only 1 community table. This is where I took Thailand Rob when he visited Tokyo. Here is the link for the Thailand Rob visit https://youtu.be/Y2xw-GN-0qY where he was quite amazed at how easy it was to meet people. Here is another video https://youtu.be/k_An0fI1cnQ (night before getting married) which truly shows how wonderful drinking and being social at the Hub is a great way to meet even though I had known no one when 1st arriving to making many new friends and even some travellers from around the world and left making many new friends and even some network contacts.
Most staff can speak some English and try very hard to help you in any way they can. Even if you do not speak any Japanese there are menus in English and Japanese but the biggest thing is all menus have photos of their food and drink menus so you can just point!
I truly like the atmosphere The Hub provides along with great customer service from the employees. I heard (from my buddy Pulok) that all staff actually go the “The Hub School” for training. One thing you will notice after going to The Hub is that all staff have pretty much all the same way of doing things.
NOW…most important – FOOD AND DRINKS
Prices for food and drinks are comparable to many pubs in and around Tokyo but between 5pm – 7pm Mon – Fri they offer a “Happy Hour” where specialized cocktails are basically 50% off! What a deal that is! Getting a gin n tonic for 190 yen or a Jumbo version for 250 yen is a great deal…. trust me had a few too many lol. If you are a beer drinker there is no happy hour prices…booooo
Food on the other hand that I highly recommend is their Fish and chips available in a 2 piece set or in bit size which are awesome. Other food that I enjoy is their grilled cabbage know it’s just cabbage (i know right! … but damn it’s good), the chicken and chips (bite size pieces also) and their funky pizza choices (try the salmon potato)
I hope my experiences at The Hub will help you and hope to see you at a location if you ever come to Tokyo and/or live here already.
Ok drink time…off to The Hub
Keep it real ya’ll….. Tokyo Drew