Gindaco takoyaki and highballs come to Akasaka
Japanese nightlife -- especially in the office-heavy Akasaka area -- is in large part dark izakaya inhabited by private parties or foreigner-drenched open pubs. There are few places where the locals crowd around in a communal open space. So it's nice to see a new establishment bring a boisterous crowd together in a standing-only bar -- even if it's just a glorified takoyaki stand.
International takoyaki chain Gindaco Sakaba has opened up a new octopus ball/highball stand right outside of Akasaka-Mitsuke station (Daini Taisuikan Bldg 1F, Akasaka 3-10-19, Minato-ku, tel. 03 5545 7738). Yes, us writing about a new Gindaco is kind of like getting excited every time Matsuya opens a new gyudon spot. But judging from the traffic on Wednesday March 3 -- the day after the official opening -- there was a certain magic in the place that made you want to raise a glass.
Although the bright lights and standing room only are not conducive to an elegant evening out, the Gindaco is the place for communal energy. By 6:30pm, the place was packed with people downing ¥350 Suntory highballs in those big glass mugs. ¥50 extra gets you whiskey mixed with something other than soda water, and for ¥550 the premium Yamazaki 10-year highball will be yours.
Basic takoyaki goes for ¥350 while advanced options such as cheese and tomato topping cost a bit more.
With the old-school highball, the greatest thing is that the ironic nostalgic appeal can cover up any of the less exciting economic rationales. In other words, don't go to Gindaco Sakaba just because it's cheap. Go there because it's a celebration of cheap Japanese classics. And don't be ashamed of this low rent passion: There will be lots of other people with whom you can share your enthusiasm.