In Japan, it’s customary to cap off a night of drinking with a bowl of ramen. But while it puts a tasty final period on a night of comfortably inebriated sentences, it can be hard to motivate your legs to transport you from the pub to a ramen joint after several drinks.
You could sidestep that problem by drinking at a ramen restaurant to begin with, but the downside is that most of them stock only the most basic of alcoholic drinks, often limited to a Japanese macrobrew beer and lemon shochu cocktails. Tokyo’s Arizuka, though, is different.
Sure, it might look like just another ramen restaurant. Located in the downtownJinbocho neighborhood, the sign above the entrance says “ramen,” and there’s a machine out front to buy meal tickets from. But take a look at the menu, and you’ll see an option for an all-you-can-drink sake course.
And no, Arizuka doesn’t expect you to settle for repeated refills of some cheap, generic house sake. Instead, it keeps over 50 varieties of sake, from respected brewers across Japan, on hand. These are located in refrigerators on the second floor, but the all-you-can-drink plan is available for customers sitting in the first floor’s non-smoking section as well, with waitstaff bringing you drinks as you request them (customers on the second floor serve themselves). Oh, and while most all-you-can-drink plans in Japan are two-hour deals, Arizuka’s is valid from whenever you choose to start until last call at 11 p.m.
▼ A sampling of Arizuka’s sake selection
Sake is best when enjoyed with food, and to handle your hunger while you’re slaking your thirst, the all-you-can drink plan also includes all-you-can-eat gyoza, which are delivered to your table straight from the wok, with lightly crisped skin and your choice of garlic or shiso (Japanese basil) seasoning the meaty filling.
Not a fan of dumplings? No problem, because the plan gives you all-you-can-eat karaage fried chicken too.
And since Arizuka is, first and foremost, a ramen restaurant, you also get a single half-sized serving of ramen, brought to your table when you’re ready to call it a night.
While there’s no dessert, the lineup of high-quality sake, including premium junmai daiginjo brews, was enough to have even us forgetting about sweets for a while.
Honestly, the individual appeals of sake, gyoza, or karaage would be enough to have us visiting for an unlimited amount of any one, but with all three bundled together, Arizuka easily justifies the 5,000-yen it charges for the course, and we’re triply happy that it’s part of Tokyo’s restaurant landscape.
Arizuka / 蟻塚
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Nishi Kanda 2-1-11, Misawa Building 1st floor
Open 11 a.m.-midnight
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