Sake Scene Masufuku: A Japanese Bar To Remember

Invite Yourself To A Unique Japanese Bar Exploration

By Nano Betts
May 11, 2017
Food & Drink

A true sake experience is never only about the drink — it’s about the communication, the art and the story behind it. And that is exactly what the newly opened Sake Scene Masufuku bar in Tokyo’s Minato serves you.

As I walked down the Shibadaimon street to the narrow alleyway, I knew my bar choice for the night would not disappoint. After months and months of searching for the best food and drink gems in my new home Tokyo, I’d come to know that the best places — those that tease all your senses and remain in your memory — are tucked away in the understated side streets.

And so was Sake Scene Masufuku — the recently opened sake bar I was on a mission to explore for the night.

Instead of the intimidatingly discreet exterior, characterizing so many Japanese restaurants in Tokyo, Sake Scene Masufuku instantly grabs your attention and lures you inside thanks to the large square window. Arriving little past 6pm, I spotted the kimono-clad owner and hostess Yukari Yanaba arranging sake bottles on the shelves. She gave me a warm smile and welcomed me inside on my discovery journey.

A Very Personal Interior

A softly draped noren (curtain), the clean, pure tones of the interior, textured washi paper covering the wall, hand-made glass light fixtures and the original paintings from Kyoto – these are the elements that greet you the moment you step inside the bar. There is a strong sense of unity about the furnishings, the concept and the owner’s passion for giving her customers the best. You can feel that every single detail here has been thought-through and each item hand-picked by Yanaba herself, which gives the place a personal touch and makes you feel you are visiting her home, not a communal place.

The bar has a refreshing aura which exudes refined elegance influenced by the timeless Japanese aesthetics. My attention is irrevocably drawn by the display of exquisite one-of-a-kind sake cups — a collection of pieces that have taken the owner’s personal fancy. By serving sake in this luxurious pottery, Yanaba provides the ultimate sake tasting experience — a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.

A Chat Over The Counter

What makes your visit extra special is the ability to chat with Yanaba herself and listen as she passionately shares her expertise about the drinks she serves. There are a handful of small tables available for a more intimate dining, but sitting by the counter completes the experience. You can sit and watch Yanaba use her unique method – okan suru — to warm up the sake and hear a story behind each drink, in her fluent English. She’ll tell you why she came to run the bar, what makes Japanese sake special, what food to drink it with, where and how it’s made — amid everything else you can talk about.

Exceptional Meal Courses & Sake Variety

When it comes to food finesse, Japan and France have much in common, and when it’s done well, it makes the perfect match. So here at Sake Scene Masufuku, unique French-inspired dishes are served to elevate your authentic Japanese sake tasting. All dishes are prepared by Teppei Fujisawa, the bar’s new chef, who has trained and worked in France and then worked as a head chef of Pont d’Or Inno before helming the kitchen at Masufuku. You can order food a la carte or sample one of the two set menus: a five-course meal (¥10,000), which includes two entrees, fish and meat main dishes, and dessert; or taste the lighter ¥5,000 four-dish course, which comes with two entrees, a choice of meat or fish dish and a petit dessert.  

As to the sake, you’ll spend quite a time choosing here. Yanaba strives to promote local boutique sake breweries from across Japan and offers a great variety of cold and warm sake. You’ll see the meticulously arranged sake bottles — like trophies on display — and if you dare to count, you’ll find nearly 60 varieties to choose from. You can order a la carte or opt for the sake tasting — or even better, ask Yanaba for recommendation and she’ll pick the perfect one for you.

For my dining experience, I chose the full course and opted for mackerel sashimi served in parsley sauce as an appetizer. The flavorful fish had been marinated in vinegar which gave it a touch of just enough acidity, while cucumber and herbs on top added to a refreshing taste. Per Yanaba’s recommendation I paired it with sake from Kanagawa prefecture. Its slightly sour taste and fruity undertones complimented the fish perfectly. For my main course, I savored every bite of the perfectly cooked seabass topped with capers and roasted almonds, the latter giving a nice contrasting texture to the bite. It was coupled with warm sake from Fukuoka which had more profound taste of rice and brought out the flavors of the seabass. I ended the night with a glass of Mizu Kagami from Shiga prefecture served cold. With 70% alcohol and clear taste, it was a strong finish to the wonderful dinner.

As I sat at the bar relaxing and savoring the moment with my elaborate sake cup in hand, I was tickled by a sense of pride for finding this gem of a place. I couldn’t have picked a better spot to end the day of exploring in the area — the Kyu-Rikyu Gardens, Zojoji Temple and Tokyo Tower were just a stone’s throw away. After a day of sightseeing, my evening was filled with great sake, exquisite food and welcoming ambience that typifies the true Japanese hospitality, the way I had always imagined it.

The Deets

Sake Bar Masufuku

Address: 2-11-20 1F Shibadaimon, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Business hours: 6 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. (Mon-Sat)

SPONSORED BY Sake Scene Masufuku

An Exclusive Japanese Sake Bar And French Restaurant In The Heart Of Tokyo