We dont usually feel old when we go
out in Tokyo, but a recent visit to Shibuya hotspot Zaru had
us ready to sign up at a retirement community. Our fellow
patrons not only appeared too young to drink, most of them
seemed too young to shave. So it was with a certain amount
of self-consciousness that we gingerly settled into our seats
and took in the scene.
Zarus stunning interior soon distracted us from our
self-pitying. When we noticed that the ambient lighting had
changed from a deep electric blue to a hot red, we thought
our elderly eyes were playing tricks on us. But after another
few changes in color, we realized that the subtle and gradual
alternations were intentional. The light show was just one
of the Zarus many clublike elements. Cathedral ceilings,
chandeliers made from inverted champagne glasses, and an in-your-face
sound system completed the effect.
Zaru sits on the fourth floor of Zero Gate Shibuya, a building
that also houses nightclub La Fabrique in the basement. The
escalator up passes clothing shops and a café before
spilling out into the bars large open interior. Seating
options include booths, a lounge with couches, and a row of
tables along the far wall, which is obviously the old folks
area, because thats where we were seated by the cordial
Despite all the clubbish effects, Zaru reckons
itself an izakaya, and their menu backs up the claim. Cocktails,
beers, wines and cheap champagne all make an appearance. We
started off with Carlsberg on tap (¥520) while watching
groups of kogyaru sip primary-colored drinks in between bouts
of keitai meiru, which in Zarus darkened space cast
their faces in an eerie glow. Next up was the decent red house
wine (¥490), but as the parade of lovelies grew ever younger,
we sought out the hard stuff with a really well-made martini
Zarus food, too, was cheap and pleasing. Weve
gotten into the (perhaps dubious) habit of judging izakaya
by how they handle one of our guilty pleasures, ebimayo (sautéed
shrimp with a mayonnaise-based dressing). Zarus version
(¥680) was more than passable, a creamy dish with lots
of shrimp for the price. Their take on pho (¥800) likewise
passed muster, the noodles coming with a nice, salty broth.
Our companion was keen to try the foie gras onigiri (¥1,400),
but that combo turned out to be a bit much even for us.
As we were leaving this fun and enchanting bar, we noticed
that Zaru has no down escalator; everyone must ride an elevator
on their way out. That was a perfect arrangement for us slightly
tipsy senior citizens.
4F Zero Gate, 16-9 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku.
Tel: 03-5728-3338. Open Sun-Thu, hols 11am-2am, Fri-Sat 11am-5am.
Nearest stn: Shibuya.
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