Issue Index

  Mini Features
  Cultural Features
  Life in Japan
  Big in Japan
  Rant & Rave
  Cars & Bikes
  Health & Beauty
  Money Talks
  Tokyo Tech
  Web Watch
  Food & Drink
  Restaurant Reviews
  Bar Reviews
  Word of Mouth
  Travel Features
  Japan Travel
  International Travel
  Tokyo Talk
  In Store
  Japan Beat
  CD Reviews
  In Person


bar news and views
word of mouth

499: AGAVE
498: Miss Sixty Café
497: The Pink Cow
496: Cantik
495: Billiard Bar Cosmo
494: Soma
493: Hajime
492: Rm.39
491: Coopers
490: Bar Nemesis
489: Franziskaner Bar & Grill
488: NOS
487: Diego
486: Sekirei
485: Bonny Butterfly
484: So Ra Si O
483: Maduro
482: Space Punch
481: Cento Cose
480: Bamboo
479: Heartland
478: Sign
477: Yoshino
476: Omamori Cafe
475: So Bar
474: Traumaris
473: Naka Naka
472: Tsuki no Akari
471: Bar
470: These
469: Atomic Heart Mother
468: Soft
467: Milano Bar
466: Mother
465: Omocha
464: Insomnia 2
463: Lucusfloor
462: Pulse
461: Mahna Mahna
460: Ten
459: Trees'
457/8: Mayu
456: Lounge Sinner
454: Ja Ja Bar
453: See
452: Republica
451: Shanghai Bar
450: Tsuki no Kura

Issues 500+
Issues 449-
Issues 399-


by Stephen Cotterill

Mahna Mahna

Ever since US3 turned jazz into pop currency, we've been a little wary of anything billed as a jazz bar. Earnest young men with knitted wool hats, scratching their goatees and musing about Miles Davis' impact on post-modernist art could seriously put you off your beer. But Mahna Mahna in Sangenjaya is a lot more than it's cracked up to be.

We arrived there a bit bemused to be so far off the beaten track but ready for a change of scenery anyway and made our way upstairs to the spacious, well-upholstered balcony area. We settled into the comfy sofas as the resident DJ cheered up the Jazz skeptics among us with a funky '70s set. It turned out that Mahna Mahna was more eclectic than we thought, with a mixed crowd of Shimokitazawa drop outs getting into tunes covering the last 20 years of soul, pop and funk.

We set about the drinks menu with a purpose, ordering loaded Long Island Ice Teas (¥900) and hot wine (¥600) to keep out this desperate cold. The drinks list was fairly standard with only a couple of notable exceptions such as Shandy Gaff (¥700) and Cassis beer (¥700), neither of which really sounded that appealing, but we had to admire the nod to adventurism. Having decided that food might be a good idea to balance what sadly seemed to be a mainly liquid diet, we weighed into the extensive snack menu ordering olives (¥400), Okinawa specialty taco rice (¥800) and their delicious homemade lean pork chashu (¥600). Everything went down a treat, and we realized that leaving Shibuya may not be such a bad idea after all.

The space and vibe is perfect for small parties or live bands, and the friendly staff seemed keen to promote Mahna Mahna as a venue for any kind of low key event with punters only having to pay the ¥300 per head cover charge. This month's schedule for example includes a hip-hop event called “Nymphoseek,” a “Jazz Brazil” night from DJ QT-4 and something called “Banzanispa” with DJ Diasuke. None of us had any idea what any of this meant of course, but at Mahna Mahna it'll probably be fun anyway. Stephen Cotterill

Open Mon-Sat 7pm-4am Sun 1pm-4am. 2-9-26 Taishido, Setagaya-ku. Tel: 03-3419-7909. Nearest stn: Denentoshi line, Sangenjaya stn.

Photo credit: Anatole Papafilippou