A friend recently visited Tokyo for a week from New York and when asked what she wanted to eat, she answered: "oooh, I want to go to one of those Japanese bar/restaurant things, like the kind in Astor Place!" I answered that I thought she meant an izakaya, which was easy enough, since there are decent izakayas to be found in every neighborhood in Tokyo. On her first night, I took her to Kaikaya by the Sea in Shibuya, a perennial favorite among my friends for fresh, well-priced set meals that include delicious, innnovative seafood dishes. In my mind, Kaikaya is an izakaya since it's an establishment where one goes to drink and eat good food with the drinks. However, I could tell that as good as Kaikaya was, in her mind it was a restaurant, not a rowdy casual drinking establishment that she was thinking of as an izakaya. She confirmed as much when she noted that she thought that izakayas were supposed to have grilled yakitori on sticks.
I knew immediately where I would take her for her version of an izakaya experience: Jomon in Roppongi.
Jomon is a fun, laid back izakaya with a sake/shochu menu as long as its food menu, with bottles lined up at the wooden bar, behind which the friendly chefs grill skewer after skewer of delicious yakitori. During warm summer nights, the floor-to-ceiling windows are opened up so the raucous fun can spill out into the sidewalk.
From bacon wrapped cherry tomatoes and asparagus to AAAAA grade beef, the yakitori offerings at Jomon are the stars on the menu, balanced out by other common izakaya fare such as salads, rice and noodle dishes.
A sampling of Jomon's sake and shochu offerings
Food rating: *** and a half
Bang for buck rating: 4
Location: 5-9-17 Roppongi, just a few minutes walk from Roppongi Crossing
Average price of dinner for two (with drinks): 6000 yen (~$70)