It doesn’t matter how big a city gets, it’s the neighborhoods that give that city its character. In Tokyo, that largest metropolitan area in the world, finding a nice bar in your neighborhood is, arguably, as important as good schools and a nearby train station. For everyone who appreciates a nice bar close to home, hopefully you can find your neighborhood here, and a bar to go with it. For those in Azabu and the surrounding areas, Bar Qwang is that place.
Bar Qwang isn’t really a hideaway, but it could easily be missed among the throngs of bars in Roppongi. Maintaining a safe distance from the Gaien-Higashi Dori strip, the bar is on the basement level of a building about ten-minutes’ walk from Roppongi crossing towards Nishi Azabu intersection.
It’s a sharp contrast to most bars in the area. With a cozy, dimly-lit atmosphere, bar owner Mr. Hasegawa has maintained a venue with great Thai food and amazing cocktails. Hasegawa and his wife Junko share a deep passion for quality food and drink, but also for the arts, film, and music. Ah, the music. Granted, on any given night you’ll probably be listening to songs by artists like Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits–and what perfect music to listen to in a bar. But Hasegawa will also play the odd upbeat song, including some Japanese artists.
In the kitchen, Junko, who loves Thai food and has worked in Thai restaurants throughout Tokyo, is busy cooking fresh, tasty dishes with the “built-in” spiciness familiar to most Thai connoisseurs. Junko’s dishes include light meals like papaya salad, as well as hotter, heartier green curry offerings. Be advised that the menu changes daily, so don’t get too attached to one dish.
The drinks menu is also constantly evolving, with special and seasonal cocktails tailor-made by Hasegawa. Sometimes drinking a skilfully strained, brown-auburn, bourbon cocktail called “Blood and Sand” while Tom Waits is blurring the night away makes you feel, well…Hallelujah. Hasegawa’s choice of cocktails (and cocktail names) is always interesting, with options including absinthe, gin and tequila-based cocktails along with a fine selection of whisky. This is one of those few bars that actually has a bottle of Becherovka around, which can never be a bad thing. An evening at the Qwang could be over light dinner with friends at one of the three tables available, or just drinking at the counter.
3-1-18 RD Nishiazabu B1F, Nishi Azabu, Minato-ku 106-0031, Tokyo Prefecture (Akasaka / Roppongi) 03-5410-8998
Open: Mon-Sat from 18:00
Closed: Sunday, Holiday, first Saturday of month
Mood: From somber to rock
Food: Thai, light Japanese dishes
Price: Food and cocktails from around 1100-1800 yen.