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bar review

Simplicity and elegance at The Lounge by Aman

By Alexandra Hongo

We live in a time when standing out often calls for conspicuousness: if you want to be seen, you need to shine and if you want to be heard, you need to shout.

That, I try to persuade myself, could be one of the reasons why the vast majority of restaurants, bars and other modern entertaining venues often resort to any possible means to attract customers’ attention and keep them loyal. For most of us, that's the way it is. And we find certain comfort and amusement in it.

With these thoughts in mind, I put on my best jewelry and most expensive jacket and headed for an appointment at Aman Hotel in Tokyo’s Otemachi, where many of the capital’s executives often gather for a late night drink after work. I was ready for a regular Tokyo high-end experience: the glitz, the gaudy colors, the highly sophisticated decorations and the bourgeois manifestation.

But here I am, standing on the 33rd floor in The Lounge by Aman, looking up at the 8-meter-high vaulted ceiling made of plain white Japanese washi paper. At the center of the lounge there is a giant plant stand decorated with seasonal flowers — this time, a pine tree for the celebration of the new year. A black engawa strip separates the internal part of the bar from the rest of the lounge in a typical old wabisabi Japanese house architecture, making you imagine you were comfortably sitting in your living room, away from the city hustle and bustle. The rest — to your right and to your left — is all black: black chairs, black tables, black uniforms for the staff and black menus.

We are guided to our window seat, from where — we are told — you can see most of Tokyo and even Mount Fuji on on clear sky days. The city at night looks calm from where we sit and we are naturally transported to a place of simple luxury and elegance.

As I sip my first black drink for the night, I find myself having an imaginary conversation with Coco Chanel: “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance,” she says, and I’m guessing that if only she were alive and in Tokyo, she would be coming here every night, wearing her signature black dress and feeling unbothered by all distractions of the modern world.

The Black Bar plan started at The Lounge in its current style last October, and as you can guess, uses black as its theme not only for its interior, but also for its drinks and food menu, alike. Here, things are simple: minimal decor, quality food and exceptional drinks. And the moment you enter and sit down relaxed, you know that is all you need.

We are invited to taste the “Free Flow” set (¥6,900), which includes a wooden tower plate filled with nine kinds of unique appetizers, from black olives, prosciutto with black pepper and cheese, to black garlic baguette toast and sesame breadsticks — and an all-you-can-drink selection of over 40 kinds of signature cocktails, whisky, beer, soft drinks and black tea.

Starting from the classic Aman Black Espresso Martini, we go down the list ordering everything we wish to try: Black Velvet, Black Rain, Mystery Night and Black Rum Mojito — all created for an exquisite taste and visual presentation. Nothing else would better describe the supremacy of every cocktail we had: simple, elegant and just the way you want it for a feeling of comfortable luxury, without being pretentious.

The Black Bar plan also offers unique a-la-carte bits and bites, including Black Mini Burgers (¥3,200), Squid Ink Black Tagliolini (¥2,800) and the bar’s signature Dark Chocolate Mousse (¥1,600), topped with raspberries — all exquisite additions to your dinner in case the appetizers are not enough. And if you are visiting at day time, you can also enjoy an afternoon tea set, which naturally is also black.

The Lounge by Aman is a quiet place that will vividly remain in your memory and make you want to go back — to black. Here you can relax in a simple, yet truly elegant ambience in the company of savory food and cosmopolitan cocktails. It is also a kind of place where, as you sip your black drink and look out from the window overseeing Tokyo, you are reminded that at the end of the day, sometimes less is more and going back to minimalism may be worth once in awhile.

After unexpectedly spending over three hours at the lounge, we walked out feeling absolutely carefree. Coco Chanel, I imagined, winked at me from the corner of the lounge, before she drifted away in the scenery of Tokyo, drinking her last cocktail for the night.

“Black wipes out everything else around.” I hear you, my lady.

For more information on Aman Tokyo’s The Black Bar plan, see the hotel’s official website here https://www.aman.com/ja-jp/resorts/aman-tokyo/the-lounge-by-aman

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