Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on January 2010
Bar Fabrica is a music-lover’s sanctuary. Originally opened by a local musician, it’s situated next door to a branch of Rinky Dink Studio that was once frequented by Cornelius, and is now used by the likes of Hige, plus a million still-green bands. Last year the bar changed hands, and is now in the loving care of Hiroshi Sato, better known as the guitarist for indie heroes Riddim Saunter. The prices have gone up a little, but the welcoming atmosphere and the friendly young regulars remain. In fact, it’s such a special, tiny wee bar that it’s tempting to keep the place a greedy little secret.
Fabrica is located close to Umegaoka Station on the Odakyu Line, two stops from Shimokitazawa and eight from Shinjuku. It’s intimate, to say the least: the sociable counter seats seven people, with three tables providing space for eight more. An eclectic indie-dance soundtrack sets the tone, though the bar has also begun to host diverse DJ nights recently, covering electro to punk to soul and all points in between. (Note that some of these have an entrance charge of ¥1,000, including one drink.) The walls are lined with languorous scenes from around Europe, shot by music photographer Rui Hashimoto.
The bar is well stocked with a wide array of spirits (cocktails from ¥650) as well as cheap and cheerful house wines (¥600 glass/¥3,500 bottle), crisp Heartland beer on tap (¥600) and shochu (from ¥600). The Moscow Mule is fiery, made with spicy Wilkinson ginger ale and large, smooth cubes of ice, while the White Russian seems to be popular among the regulars. For the record, they do serve cocktails without Soviet names too.
Look out also for the selection of super-strong foreign spirits, whose names you’ll probably be too hungover to remember the next day. If you’re very lucky and the staff are feeling generous, you may even be awarded a shot of one of these on the house.
The light food menu, served until 5am, includes curry and rice (¥900), two pasta dishes (¥880) and pizza (¥800), plus a variety of nuts, olives, pickles and salsa chips priced between ¥500 and ¥680. It’s not by any means gourmet, but it’s enough to keep you ticking over as you drink into the morning in this sleepy suburban neighborhood.
But what will keep you going back night after night is the regulars. Even on those midweek occasions when you may find Fabrica totally empty (at least for a short while), you’ll always find conversation behind the bar, whether it’s with Hiroshi himself or one of his music-mad part-timers. Plus… Hang on, why am I telling you all this? Whatever you do, don’t go to Fabrica. And if you must, for god’s sake, keep it to yourself, yeah?