Unless we were college students or getting
our hair done at one of the numerous beauty salons in the
area, we normally wouldn't have a reason to venture
down the narrow street that borders Aoyama University. But
even though someone had to tell us about NOS (Nature Off Stage),
once on the street it's hard to miss the modern glass
structure or the glowing cubic sign with its schematic diagram
of the establishment's three-plus stories.
Pulling open the huge folding glass door, we entered a garage-like
standing bar space with a small counter, various bottles lined
up against the wall, and two bicycles parked on the concrete
floor. The bartender called out to us over the hip-hop music
and said that if we wanted to sit upstairs, it was the terrace
or a long wait. We opted for the terrace.
Climbing the spiral staircase to the second floor, we passed
what appeared to be a private living room with sofas, a small
gallery space, and a couple of cave-like rooms crammed with
people-mostly youngish, well-dressed Japanese. Another
spiral staircase led us to a third-floor dining hall, with
candlelit tables and huge paintings hanging on the black walls.
Finally reaching the terrace, we noticed
it was more like a stuffy greenhouse, enclosed in clear vinyl,
which the staff said they couldn't open. But they were
able to move us to an inside counter area with a kitchen view.
By this time, it was clear we had entered a kind of restaurant,
not just a simple watering hole, so we quickly ordered some
standards from a rather basic drink menu, skipping over the
longer wine-by-the-bottle list (from ¥3,400).
When our Moscow mule (¥750) and draft beer (¥650)
arrived, we were deeply engrossed in NOS's original
food menu. Picking from headings such as "Energy,"
"Source" and "Beauty," we selected
a carpaccio of snapper (¥1,000), fried salmon salad (¥880)
and cheese risotto (¥1,000). Little details like giant
flakes of parmesan cheese, bits of red pepper in the salad
and barley in the risotto kept us talking about how nice it
was to eat food that actually had flavors and not just flavor.
As the music flowed from samba to a slow, funky jazz house
beat, we lingered at the counter. Too full to think about
dessert, we ordered two more cocktails: a Vodka rickey and
a bulldog (¥750). Digesting the ambience and the meal,
and feeling totally relaxed in this self-proclaimed "Tokyo-style
living space," we decided that two drinks would be
a wise limit in a glass house with two spiral staircases.
5-10-17 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku.
Tel: 03-5774-1727. Open Mon-Sat 6pm-5am, Sun and hols 6-11pm.
Nearest stn: Omotesando, exit B1. www.n-o-s.net
by Nobby Kealey
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