Barbies and Beer in Shimbashi
No, I'm not talking about Barbie dolls drinking beer in Shimbashi. But right in the middle of one of Tokyo's busiest business areas, a barbecue—"barbie" for Australians and New Zealanders—beer garden is now available to help you enjoy the summer in the city. It is called BBP, which stands for barbie, beer, and PA-3, a brand of probiotic yogurt from Meiji.
The cost of entry and equipment rental for two and a half hours is ¥2,000 per adult and ¥1,000 per child. Shaded by green tents, each table offers enough space for four people to sit comfortably. The tables have charcoal grills at their center, meaning everyone can easily reach the food for cooking and eating. One thing I would suggest is to keep your beer far away from the grill, as it was so hot that my beer went a bit warm. Gushes of strong wind disrupted our meal a few times, but surprisingly, the tents were very strong and sturdy. Just make sure to keep your paper plate from flying away. Without the wind though, it was baking hot. It would have been better to have some fans underneath the tents, as sitting around a flaming barbecue on a 29-degree day made the experience a bit rough.
The food selection was amazingly wide, ranging from Aussie steak to Japanese yaki onigiri (grilled rice balls) to paella. We were especially impressed with the seafood: crab legs, fresh scallops, large clams, and jumbo tiger shrimp. The Aussie beef was juicy, tender, and full of flavor. Sets can be pre-ordered, and range in price from ¥980 to ¥3,580 per person. Otherwise, you can pick from the à la carte menu. Some of our top picks were the sirloin steak (¥1,300 for 200 grams), the seafood set (¥800), the one-pound steak (¥2,980), and yaki onigiri (¥400 for two). If this menu doesn’t completely satisfy your tastebuds, you can also bring your own food and drinks at no extra cost. Keep in mind, though, that the free drink menu is just ¥1,000, with draft beer, cocktails, and Bacardi mojitos on offer, so it may not be worth your while to haul in your own drinks. For beer lovers, I would recommend upgrading to the premium free drink menu for an extra ¥300, as that includes Yebisu beer and sparkling wine. Also, the only condiments we found were salt, pepper, and Japanese tare (a soy sauce based dressing for grilled meat). So, if you like ketchup, mustard and barbecue sauce, be sure to throw them into your picnic basket.
After your meal, don’t forget to chug a bottle of PA-3 yogurt to keep your purine level in balance. PA-3, Lactobacillus gasseri, is a probiotic that “fights purines.” As much as your body needs purines, we often consume more than enough, especially with all that barbecue food. According to Meiji, a daily healthy intake of purine is only 400 milligrams. PA-3 can break down extra purines in your body and help you maintain your health.
BBP is open through the end of February 2016. If you’re lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it), you may happen to plan your visit on one of the “macho days,” which give guests an opportunity to interact with the buff guys of Macho 29, Japan’s latest bodybuilding boy band. The ¥5,000 per person course comes with the usual barbecue equipment, some delicious food, an all-you-can-drink plan, plus pictures with the Macho 29 staff as they sweep you off your feet, literally. Upgrade to the “wall of meat” (肉の壁) course for an extra ¥3,000, and they will even dance around you in a circle, building a wall of muscle just inches away from you. On regular days you will also find “cowgirl” staff, hired by Meiji to promote the PA-3 drink.
Address: 1-1-3 Shimbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Open: Daily through the end of Feb. 2016, 10:00 a.m.–10 p.m. Two and a half rental time slots are available from 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 7 p.m., and 7:30 p.m.